Apr 05 2012
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The irrational US-Iran-Israel dynamic
Why does most of the world continue to lose respect for the United States and its conduct of foreign policy?
Two developments in the past week shed some light on this and, not surprisingly, they both relate to Washington's relations with Iran and Israel, an arena in which American rationality, fairness, consistency and integrity go out the window, and hysteria takes over the controls.
Last Friday, President Barack Obama announced that his analysis of global oil trading led him to conclude that there were sufficient supplies of crude oil in the market for the US to implement previously announced sanctions on countries that buy oil from Iran. If third countries do not reduce or stop their oil purchases and commercial dealings with the Central Bank of Iran, those countries will not be allowed to do any business with the US.
The US does not see itself as a leading power among equally sovereign states around the world; it sees itself as the definer and guarantor of global behaviour, and the enforcer of norms that it sets on its own. Most of the world rejects and resents this.
Washington rejected this rationale and said that the Arab boycott had to be opposed and busted. Now the US applies exactly the same principle, totally abandoning the values that it summoned when it opposed the Arab boycott of Israel.
The continuing insistence by Washington that its foreign policy should operate according to a set of rules different from that of the rest of the world -- especially when Israel is concerned -- is a major reason why so many people and governments around the world look at American foreign policy with disdain and disrespect. The second development last week helps explain why this kind of behaviour occurs. An opinion article in the Washington Post by Dennis Ross and David Makovsky, of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), titled "The US can meet Israel halfway on Iran" laid out a series of reasons why and how the US and Israel should closely coordinate their diplomacy, negotiations, sanctions, threats and potential military attack on Iran
It noted: "Because Israel is the only country that Iran has repeatedly threatened to 'wipe off the map', it is reasonable for it to have some input into the objectives of diplomacy and the timetable for progress in negotiations. The more Israelis feel their views are being taken into account, the more inclined they will be to give diplomacy a chance to work before resorting to force. Israel should also understand that if diplomacy fails and force proves necessary, the context in which force is used will be critical."
This is not surprising coming from WINEP, which is a highly effective pro-Israel think tank in Washington, DC, that has exceptional influence among US officials, as do most other such institutions that broadly reflect the positions of the Israeli government and the pro-Israel lobby groups in the US.
What is surprising is the rather explicit call from the heart of Washington, DC, for American policy on Iran to be so closely coordinated with Israeli views. Coordination is a normal tool for diplomatic action, but many people in the US and around the world feel that the line between cooperation and coercion has been badly blurred in US-Israeli relations, as America's Mideast policies seem increasingly subservient to Israeli concerns.
Ross was a central figure in American policies on Arab-Israeli and, more recently, Iranian issues -- policies that have failed in almost every respect. Is it perhaps due in part to the fact that American officials and lawmakers often confuse Israeli concerns with American interests? Are we seeing this principle in action again these days on policy towards Iran, where coordination and coercion seem especially confused?
© Jordan Times 2012
© Copyright Zawya. All Rights Reserved.
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