On War # 280: The Other Election

by William S. Lind
October 28, 2008

While the world’s eyes are fixed on the American election coming up soon, another election with equal importance for America’s future crawled onto the calendar over the past weekend (don’t expect a monarchist to think highly of elections). Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni gave up her efforts to form a new Israeli government and called for elections. Her move may be a last negotiating gambit. If not, Israel will probably face national elections in February 2009.

At present some, polls suggest the Likud party will win. If that happens, it will mean as much for America as for Israel. Why? Because America’s Middle Eastern policy is effectively the tail on Likud’s dog. Many American neo-cons, those great guys who gave us the war in Iraq, are de facto members of Likud. Several leading American neo-cons wrote Likud’s strategy for Israel, which calls for someone – guess who? — to destroy every Middle Eastern country that could be a threat to Israel. The American invasion of Iraq represented in part that strategy being put into effect.

Those who imagine an Obama victory will see the neo-cons shown the door are in for an unpleasant surprise. Under the guise of neo-libs, they are no less influential in the Democratic establishment than in the Republican. The only way Likud could get shut out of a Democratic administration is if Obama bypasses the whole establishment in choosing his foreign and defense policy appointments. While that is fervently to be wished, it is probably not going to happen. Like figures on a medieval clock, the Republican and Democratic establishments succeed each other in an unbroken chain of policy failure.

A Likud government in Israel come next spring would make two wars virtually certain: a war between Israel and Hezbollah and another between Israel and Iran. The Israeli military leadership recently announced that in the event of another war with Hezbollah, Israel would destroy Lebanon’s civilian infrastructure throughout the country. Since the neo-libs will make certain America backs Israel to the hilt, world-wide Islamic anger over the unnecessary destruction of a small, helpless Middle Eastern country (at least a third of whose people are Christians) will focus as much on America as on Israel. Islamic 4GW organizations will get a huge boost to their recruiting and fundraising, while the legitimacy of Islamic states with ties to America will be further weakened.

An Israeli attack on Iran, in turn, could bring about the loss of the army America has in Iraq. If I sound like Cato in repeating this warning endlessly, I do so with reason. The destruction of an entire American army would mark an historic turning point, America’s Syracuse Expedition, which is what the Iraq war has resembled from the start. Our strategic position in Iraq hangs by a thread, its long, thin supply line coming up through the Persian Gulf and Kuwait. If Iran and its allied Iraqi Shiite militias cut that line, the best outcome we can hope for is a sauve que peut withdrawal of U.S. forces north into Kurdistan.

To this happy picture a Likud government in Israel might add a war with Syria and an open U.S. break with Pakistan, driven by Pakistani popular anger at America for its alliance with a Likud-led Israel. That would cut our main supply line for the war in Afghanistan, again forcing a withdrawal.

All of this would occur against a background of a world economic depression, a depression wars in the Middle East would intensify. The price of oil, now artificially depressed by a fire sale of commodities held by hedge funds, would soar to unprecedented heights. Those countries still exporting oil might dump the dollar and demand payment in gold. The American defense budget could skyrocket at a time when the U.S. faced an urgent need to cut federal spending, leading to printing-press dollars and hyperinflation.

It may be that elections in Israel hold more meaning for the United States than does America’s own coming vote. One writer quoted in the Washington Post said that if McCain wins, history will pay America a visit, “the shroud, the scythe and all Four Horsemen.” That may be no less true if Obama wins, unless he improbably finds the wisdom and courage to break with the Democratic Party’s foreign policy establishment. That establishment is as tied to Israel as Russia’s foreign policy establishment was tied to Serbia in 1914. Past, I suspect, is prologue.

William S. Lind, expressing his own personal opinion, is Director for the Center for Cultural Conservatism for the Free Congress Foundation.

To interview Mr. Lind, please contact (no e-mail available):

Mr. William S. Lind

Free Congress Foundation
1423 Powhatan Street, # 2
Alexandria, Virginia 22314
Direct line: 703 837-0483

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Filed in Uncategorized | 13 responses so far

13 Responses to “On War # 280: The Other Election”

  1. gpanfileon 28 Oct 2008 at 6:31 pm 1

    This analysis is as usual excellent until it gets to the Obama part. Fact is he opposed the Iraq adventure, one of the very few politicians in either party to do so, and that is a major reason why he got the nomination. His grassroots support, the young people, and the nonwhites who are backing him to very high percentages are all opposed to foreign adventurism and are very unlikely to get behind a continuation of our fealty to the Likud. This is in contrast, of course, to the McCain campaign which has the feckless Lieberman circling like a vulture for exactly that purpose.

    In order to hold a good chance at winning some states like Florida Obama has had to say the obligatory pro-Israel things, and to some extent they are even true. What is far from proven is that he will indeed be misled the way Bush was. The evidence is to the contrary. I would expect for the next two years at least Obama will be firmly against any such nonsense from the war party who have already run so much into the ground.

    If there is a point of difficulty, it might occur in a few years, if perchance economic problems impeded Obama from showing any results and he had popularity issues when reelection loomed. In that atmosphere the Republicans could run against him on the issue, the Israelis would feel emboldened, and he might go along in an attempt to retain office. On the other hand, if he does well enough and is not under serious threat for reelection, the Likud on both sides of the pond will be out of luck, it says here.

  2. jaylemeuxon 29 Oct 2008 at 1:35 am 2

    I’m confused about this business of (the state of) Israel wanting us to wipe out the Islamic Middle East for them. Doesn’t Israel have a proven military that’s unmatched in the Middle East? Don’t they also unofficially have nuclear weapons? What conventional threat to their soil are they worried about? Isn’t it just that they don’t have the logistics to project combat power far from their borders?

    Aren’t the neoliberals far more reluctant than the neocons to use military force?

  3. senor tomason 29 Oct 2008 at 8:51 am 3

    “as tied to Israel as Russia’s foreign policy establishment was tied to Serbia in 1914. Past, I suspect, is prologue.”

    A fantastic stretch of an analogy. Russia and Serbia in 1914 did not have nukes. The United States of America and the State of Israel in 2009 will. So, an apple and oranges comparison by Mr. Lind to help support his anti-Israel (although I hope not anti-Semitic) agenda.

  4. […] suggests that the world went to hell with the demise of the House of Hohenzoleren) believes that next Tueseday’s voting here in the United States may be only the first of two elections in the…. The other is likely to take place early next year in Israel if Tzipi Livni is unable to form […]

  5. JJon 29 Oct 2008 at 12:32 pm 5

    Ahmadinejad was reported the other day to be seriously ill, there was also a report that Hezbollah Secretary General Nasrallah had been poisoned, that was NOT true.

    Ahmadinejad was expected to recover.

    The incursion into Syria, one wonders.

    We can rest assured that the interests of the American people will be put where they have always been, dead last.

  6. Barryon 30 Oct 2008 at 10:32 am 6

    Here, the very boldest of predictions and from one with a hard earned reputation for being prescient. William Lind gives a trenchant (and fearless) analysis of what is truly decisive in US policy.

    Obama will not be the first President to campaign promising to avoid war, he will surprise me if he does in fact have such a priority when in office. Israel may well not strike Iran but that will be in the eventuality that the US does.

  7. Maxon 30 Oct 2008 at 11:38 am 7

    “We can rest assured that the interests of the American people will be put where they have always been, dead last.”

    Lind as ususal makes a good point.
    On the face of it,
    It’s utterly preposterous that the future of the United States
    Of America is impingent on a forgien election, and particuarly
    a socalled Ally.

    Washington must be spinning in his grave.

    M

  8. Maxon 31 Oct 2008 at 10:03 am 8

    I came across this illustration of extreamism,
    this morning, that dovetailes with this thread.

    Extreamists as such can be considered to
    pose just about as much a serious threat to
    the peace, stability, prosperiety of mankind
    as any.

    The problem is thier everywhere, the dis-enfranchised,
    the perpetualy angry, malcontents, and militants, among lunatics.

    This is an essential element of 4GW.

    Learning how to deal with them, to isloate,
    marginalise, and alient them from the mainstream
    is the key.

    One of the most effective methods that I’ve seen
    and experienced is by effectively mitigating a large measure
    of thier greivance, or any legitimate portion
    of such. As such you pull the rug out from under them,
    and those who persist in militancy afterwards are exposed
    as such.

    http://tinyurl.com/69fraq

    M

  9. Newjarheaddeanon 31 Oct 2008 at 1:06 pm 9

    A`HOY, C-o-m-e o-n… Mr. Obama, C-o-m-e o-n… Miss Livni, just finished watching Michael Moore on Democracy Now. A long the lines of Mr. Lind, “The only way Likud could get shut out of a Democratic administration is if Obama bypasses the whole establishment in choosing his foreign and defense policy appointments”.

    Mr. Moore said he was hoping the campaign promises Obama brakes are increasing the war in Afg. etc. (more or less braking with the old Dem. Guard). I’m hoping for the same thing.

    I don’t now who Cato is (LOL) but I’ll repeat my self “if Obama dose win and dose not keep most of his promises, (i.e. make big chances) its over for both sides of the coin”. Also after reading Jews God and History by Dimont, I still believe there is more support in the USA for the oil in the M.E. than Israel.

    Gpanfile; good observations, IMO along those lines I do believe that ultimately we’re all doomed give or take a century or two. G-day!

  10. Rob Pon 03 Nov 2008 at 3:46 pm 10

    I am always been blown away with admiration by Mr Lind’s analysis, even if I don’t always agree with it. Bill’s scenario is possible only if an amazing amount of “ifs” come together in the worst possible manner.

    The Likud party has been in power before, Isreal has attacked Iran’s facilities in the past and so have we. Iran destroyed our embassey and currently funds terror organizations all over the world. If Iraq’s Shiite majority were so in love with Iran, we’d be fighting street to street from Kut to Basra to retreat out of northern Iraq after the Interior Ministry kidnapped and killed the Coalition Forces- Iraq CG and his staff during a scheduled meeting. Point is, really bad things have happened in the world and it is still here primarily because 4GW has a fog of war that infects the enemy worse than us.

    Hesitation and a refusal to see an enemy is how a president can let our nation’s enemies defeat us. Decisive national action, right or wrong, often forces the enemy(ies) to react and creates a whole new set of variables that change thinking in a 4GW environment in ways that are difficult to anticipate or direct by both sides. Sen McCain and Obama may not be foreign defense geniuses or may or may not have backed a mistake of a war, but a president’s refusal to do anything, which seems to be Sen Obama’s answer to 4GW international agression, is much worse than fighting an unpopular war.

    [CR: And imagining enemies behind every bush is a great way to create them. If we can’t handle a couple of 4th-rate insurgencies with a defense budget that equals the rest of the world’s — combined — how will we ever be able to fight all the new enemies that you want to create? I really do wish that tough-guy rhetoric were the solution to our problems; it would make life so much simpler.]

  11. Rob Pon 03 Nov 2008 at 11:32 pm 11

    I agree with everything mentioned by CR except for the idea of creating enemies: America’s enemies existed well before we invaded Iraq and Afghanistan. As a country, we often fail to understand that we have enemies that are not rational that always exist; the question is whether they can strike at America or our interests.

    I agree that with our defense budget we could “handle” more than a couple of 4th rate insurgencies. In fact, we could destroy them and every person within 100 miles of them if our country changes its position on indiscriminate killing of civilians more cheaply than fighting a counterinsurgency both in dollars and in American lives. Our national defense budget is geared toward defense, not attack.

    Insurgencies tend to orient their budgets towards attacking weak targets, especially civilians, and destroying the systems and technology that creates civilized societies. As a result, they can do a lot of damage with very little money.

    [CR: “Our national defense budget is geared toward defense, not attack. ”

    Defense from whom? Our current defense program isn’t protecting us from anybody. Russia is not an enemy of the United States and neither is Iran, although there are — as I noted — those who would like to turn them into such. So any use of military force by the United States would be a war of choice, and you can see how those are turning out.

    We can motivate lots of recruits to non-state ideological groups, as we are now doing in the Middle East and South Asia, but these are threats for intelligence, diplomacy, and law enforcement.

    By the way, I should mention that my chapter in America’s Defense Meltdown takes a strong position that the worst mistake we could make would be total nuclear disarmament. In that case, conventional war among the major powers becomes imaginable again — probably inevitable — and real enemies might well emerge.]

  12. JJon 06 Nov 2008 at 1:39 pm 12

    At one time the Arab world, the Muslim world, were favorably disposed towards the United States, then US support of Israel became paramount and so the Arabs turned to Moscow, at that time, as an ally.

    I do not know what, if any, strategic value was effected in the decision to turn against the oil holders and to favor Israel. There may have been one but in these many years I cannot yet fathom it.

  13. Rob Pon 11 Nov 2008 at 9:16 pm 13

    From CR: “Our current defense program isn’t protecting us from anybody.”

    What do you mean by “defense program?” Is it the military, Dept of Defense establishment, Presidental Strategic Policy, the political defense appropraitions process, congressional oversight, or a combination?

    As far as the “wars of choice” are going, counterinsurgencies are always expensive in terms of people, time, money, and national will when measured against what gets accomplished. Both the Small Wars Manual and Street Without Joy indicate as much. America has always had plenty of everything except national will. I am actually heartened that the American people and our President exhibited as much national will and patience as we’ve seen so far and I believe we are seeing the results we need in Iraq. Historically, we’re doing better than we ever have in terms of national will.

    Also historically, America has had more tolerance (national will) for high casualties and more money spent in relation to GDP than to long wars. WWI and WWII produced a lot more casuaties and were extremely expensive compared to our modern wars of choice. By the way, it can be argued that WWI was as much a “war of choice” as OIF.

    [CR: Rob — tanks for the note. I was interpreting “defense program” in the broad sense.

    It isn’t that counterinsurgencies are expensive, it’s that since about the end of World War II, they haven’t worked very well, at least for armies of occupation. And if something as simple as “national will” were the main factor in national security, a lot more people in Europe would be speaking German today.

    I think I’d be more willing to vote in favor of “national gray matter.”]