Imagine if during WWII, the Allies bombed Italian cities while sparing the German cities from attack. Such a scenario would have prolonged the war indefinitely, and might have given the Nazis the time to develop and use atomic bombs against the Allies. Today, this scenario is actually being put into practice by the Obama administration in choosing secondary targets such as Syria while allowing the main target, which is Iran, to finalize the development of its nuclear program, and perhaps, in the not too distant future, use it against Israel, and ultimately against the U.S.
The Obama administration has made disastrous mistakes in executing foreign policy, particularly in the Middle East. It supported the 2011 Muslim Brotherhood takeovers in Tunisia and Egypt in the name of democracy, while at the same time throwing a longtime ally, President Mubarak of Egypt, “under the bus.” The Arab Middle East took notice, especially the Saudis.
In 2009, the Obama administration kept silent when the Iranian people protested against the stolen presidential election that kept Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in office. Iranian liberals and democrats risked their lives in going to the streets with banners that read “Obama, are you with us or against us.” Yet, in July, 2013, the same Obama administration protested the ouster of an authoritarian and unpopular Egyptian President Morsi by the military. Obama called for a quick return of authority to a democratically elected civilian government. He declared, “We are deeply concerned by the decision of the Egyptian Armed Forces to remove President Morsi and suspend the Egyptian constitution,” while at the same time dancing around the use of the word “coup” which would carry legal consequences for U.S. aid to Cairo.
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia reacted differently. He congratulated the new government in Cairo for assuming leadership “at this critical point in history,” following the removal of Muslim Brotherhood President Muhammad Morsi by the Egyptian military.
While the Saudis have been dismayed by U.S. policies, as were the Israelis, the Islamic Republic of Iran was delighted. Middle East observers concluded that if this is how the U.S. treats its allies, America seems at best a fair weather ally and friend.
Betrayal of pro-Western allies was one thing. Lack of long-term vision regarding American interests and contradictory actions were another. On the one hand, the U.S. and its NATO allies decided to bomb Gaddafi’s Libya, thus tipping the balance in favor of the jihadist rebels. On the other hand, for 2 ½ years, the Obama administration refused to act against an oppressive dictator in Syria, Bashar Assad, who killed over 100,000 of his people. Moreover, Assad has allied Syria with the U.S.’s arch-enemy, Iran, and the terrorist organization, Hezbollah.
In Libya, the U.S. bombing strikes were pretexted as serving a humanitarian mission. U.S. interests were not involved and certainly not endangered. Obama did not ask the U.S. Congress to vote on authorization as he did recently regarding Syria. And, Muammar Gaddafi, unlike Bashar Assad, did not use chemical weapons on his people. In Libya, however, the U.S. Air Force destroyed the Gaddafi controlled airfields, and demolished the Libyan air force, but not in Syria. The contradiction is clear.
The crucial question today in the Middle East and elsewhere is which nation is endangering world peace and threatens to destabilize the region. It certainly was not Libya. Neither is it Syria, albeit, with its use of forbidden chemical weapons, and creating millions of homeless refugees in the neighboring states, it has created an international concern. However, the Islamic Republic of Iran is the major destabilizing force in the region and beyond. By virtue of its defying the international community on its nuclear program, Iran’s role as a state sponsor of terrorism, with its threats to “wipe Israel off the map,” makes Iran a global concern. Tehran is directly involved in undermining U.S. interests in the region.
Obama is not the first U.S. president to use a diversionary attack rather than a direct attack on the most threatening U.S. enemy in the region, Iran. President George W. Bush ordered an attack on Iraq in 2003 with unsubstantiated intelligence information about Saddam Hussein’s (Iraq’s brutal dictator) possessions of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), alleging that he was clandestinely procuring and producing more. Iraq did not possess nuclear weapons but Iran was working to acquire them. Iran is a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), signed on July 1, 1968, and ratified. It deposited its ratification of the treaty in Washington on February 2, 1970. And, while Iraq also signed the Nuclear NPT at the same time as Iran, it did not possess nuclear weapons (Israel destroyed the Osirak Nuclear facility near Baghdad in 1981). Nevertheless, the U.S. attacked Iraq, but not Iran.
Iran is also a signatory to the International Convention against the use of chemical weapons while its junior partner and proxy, Assad’s Syria, is not. Hence, Iran and North Korea have proliferated nuclear and chemical weapons (destroyed by Israel) to Syria and should be held responsible. George W. Bush, moreover, called Iran, Iraq, and North Korea the “Axis of Evil,” but not Syria. Once again, an American president (Obama) has chosen to strike the less harmful target (Syria) instead of the real culprit, which is Iran.
It is apparent that Obama has no stomach for any military action, neither on Syria nor on Iran, yet he has bungled the U.S. policy versus Syria from the start. Obama’s “red line” on chemical weapons has been crossed before the August 21, 2013 attack near Damascus. His threat to attack Syria was soon modified by the excuse that he needs the endorsement of the U.S. Congress. Now, a slip of the tongue by his Secretary of State John Kerry, about possibly avoiding a U.S. attack if Assad surrendered his chemical weapons, was seized upon by Russia’s President Putin, and might let Obama “off the hook.” American credibility is not, however, “off the hook,” and Obama’s credibility is in worse standing in the Middle East and especially in Iran.
Twice now, U.S. presidents have deliberately chosen to overlook the main problem in the Middle East, which is Iran. George W. Bush did it in 2003, and Barack Obama is doing it now. It is laughable to consider Obama’s arguments for the U.S. striking Syria, since Syria never ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention, and thus cannot be held legally responsible for using chemical weapons against its own people. Iran, on the other hand, has violated the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty it ratified. Tehran is seeking to develop and use nuclear weapons, and has threatened to “wipe Israel (a member state) off the map.” If America is to expand it resources to protect world peace, it needs to punish Iran.
Iran occupied the U.S. embassy in Tehran (a declaration of war right there) in 1979, and has killed directly and indirectly U.S. servicemen in Iraq. It is instigating terrorist attacks, and obstructs peace negotiations. Additionally, Iran is threatening that “any military action against Syria will cause a military and terrorist reaction on U.S. targets and allies.” Iran is a far more strategic target than Syria. It is high time for America and the West to abandon secondary targets and focus on the primary one, Iran.
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