The New US Strategic Middle East Foci: Israel and Iran

By Sean Osborne

This is a brand new, revised strategic assessment, and has been a work in progress due to very recent developments. This assessment has only firmed up within the past coupe of days. In my last, which was posted on 15 December 2005 and entitled “Contingency Planning for the Iranian Nuclear Threat,”  I spoke of an apparent necessity that any strike against Iranian nuclear facilities be a joint US/Israeli mission. This is no longer the case.Quite frankly, due to these new developments, my previous assessment has apparently been rendered moot. The fact is, there has occurred a paradigm shift in US strategic plans for the Middle East, specifically as regards the State of Israel and the so-called “Road Map to Peace” and the principle obstacle to peace found in the Hojjatieh sect of Shi’a Islam running the show in Tehran.

Bluntly stated, my assessment is that the US currently has no pending executable plan nor the logistics to conduct and support sustained combat operations against Iran in the near term - which I believe would be a most certain prerequisite to consider when attacking the current regime of Hojjatieh Shi’a.

What has led me to this current assessment?

It is the realization that the Hojjatieh Shi’a like President Mahmud Ahmadi-Nejad and his spiritual mentor Ayatollah Mesbah-Yazdi believes in the necessity to facilitate a global apocalypse in order to realize their religious goal of the return of Imam Mahdi. It is my assessment that the President of the United States will not hand them their most fervent desire on a silver platter by striking the critically vulnerable nuclear facilities at Natanz, Esfahan and Bushehr. I believe President Bush is determined to avoid the “Armageddon” scenario for as long at is it within our power to do so.

Specifics upon which I base this assessment:

1. The US recently deployed about 80 F-16 aircraft to the Southwest Asian Area of Operations. I will not go into detail on these aircraft as it is imprudent to discuss capabilities and other specifics of deployed US combat power. However, this is a key component in that while the US military certainly has a ready and validated executable plan to strike the main nuclear vulnerabilities in Iran - we are not going to execute that plan at this time.

2. The critical issue is the paradigm shift I mentioned above. This is a paradigm shift in US-Israeli military relations and for the entire region. The United States has very recently extended our strategic nuclear umbrella to encompass the State of Israel. This extension of the US umbrella is specifically intended to counter the explicit Iranian threat to nuke Israel and wipe the nation off the map. Israel is now officially a military protectorate of the United States - much more so than it has ever been in the past.

3. Look at SECSTATE Condi Rice’ statements during the Washington DC press conference with new Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni this past Wednesday. This is the central plank or girder upon which we will attempt to move forward to achieve a comprehensive peace and Final Status agreement. Additionally and according to various Israeli news sources, FM Livni’s Wednesday meeting with National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley was postponed until Thursday when officals learned that President Bush would be in the White House. President Bush has a habit of “just passing by” when meeting with the foreign ministers of various nations while they are present in the White House. On Thursday the President “just happened by” for a 30-minute meeting with Livni in the midst of her metting with NSA Hadley. Of the two topics reportedly discussed one was “the Iranian nuclear issue.”

What the President has done is a bold step forward. We all know Russia, Red China, North Korea and Syria support Iran. We’ve seen that and raised the ante - we will defend Israel exactly in the same way we have conducted the defense of Europe since 1945.

Here is an excerpt from a recent Washington Post article on this new paradigm shift from one week ago, bold or italics mine for emphasis:

“Israel is a solid ally of the United States. We will rise to Israel’s defense, [b]if need be[/b]. So this kind of menacing talk is disturbing. It’s not only disturbing to the United States, it’s disturbing for other countries in the world, as well,” [US President George] Bush said.

Asked whether he meant the United States would rise to Israel’s defense militarily, Bush said: “You bet, we’ll defend Israel.

The Jewish state sought some sort of military alliance with the United States shortly after it was founded in 1948, but was rebuffed by several presidents, partly out of fear of offending Arabs. Since then, Israel has established the principle of securing its own defense, including a nuclear deterrent, backed by large weapons sales by the United States.

Past presidents have spoken elliptically about helping Israel, a close ally, in a conflict. The United States has no military alliance with Israel, though President Bill Clinton dangled the prospect of a military alliance as part of a final peace deal, said Dennis Ross, a senior Clinton adviser on the region.

Ross said he could not recall a president ever saying so clearly the United States would come to Israel’s defense. But he said it is a “logical extension” of existing policy, because Israel has never before faced the threat of a foe with a possible nuclear weapon.

“This proves once again the United States is the best friend and ally of Israel,” said Israeli Ambassador Daniel Ayalon. “We are very proud of this special relationship, which is the cornerstone of stability in the Middle East, for the mutual benefit of Israel, the U.S. and all peace-loving countries in the region and beyond.”

Link: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/conte…6020102134.html

And there you have it… the as-adopted geo-strategic plan of the so-called “Road Map to Peace” between Israel and the Arabs includes an all-facets military guarantee from the United States in defense of Israel’s right to exist. A second plank of this is the two-state solution - an independent Palestine whose right to exist will also be similarly guaranteed within the framework of a Final Status arrangement. We can call this new reality “Oslo II” because it will be based heavily on the framework of the 1993 Oslo Accord.

While some regional governments also look at Iran’s achievement of nuclear weapons capability with trepidation, we have embarked on a determined course to contain and deter Iran much as we contained and deter Russia or Red China from launching their nukes against us. It’s called, in this specific instance - Assured Destruction - and notice that in this instance there is nothing mutual about said destruction when it comes to Iran and its nuclear capability. As President Bush has stated, “if need be… we’ll defend Israel”. This means that if Iran moves to implement its Hojjatieh beliefs of precipitating an Islamic Armageddon we will swat them down swiftly and decisively.

“You bet…”