Judging from Daniel Pipes’ lucid critique of the Bush administration’s failings in the Middle East, the Brookings/CFR study, Restoring the Balance: A Middle East Strategy for the Next President, seems to be following the same path with respect to Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Its co-authors, Richard Haass and Martin Indyk seem wedded to the tried and ineffectual path of negotiating with despotic regimes. They ignore the global ambitions of Iranian President Ahmadinejad—basically a disciple of the Ayatollah Khomeini. They virtually ignore the geo-strategic dimensions of the Iranian threat. Iran is not only the epicenter of international terrorism. Of immediate concern is Iran’s development of nuclear weapons and its present ability to turn the spigot off the oil flowing through the Persian Gulf.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s incantation “death to America” is not merely a metaphor. Nor should the next president downplay Ahmadinejad’s vow to wipe Israel off the map—something Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority has already done in its maps of the Middle East.
Haass and Indyk will reinforce president-elect Barack Obama’s often-stated desire to engage in negotiation with Ahmadinejad. These Americans seem oblivious of the role “honor” plays in Muslim culture. Surely, there should be at least two preconditions for any negotiations between the United States and Iran: First, that President Ahmadinejad retract his statement about “death to America, and second, that he retract his threat to wipe Israel off the map. After all, not only is Israel America’s primary ally in the Middle East, but Ahmadinejad’s threat violates international law regarding genocide.
It has been said “only dead fish go with the stream.” Let’s hope the stream does not lead to the White House.