Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Second Lebanon War: Moshe Yaalon

Western Passivity Magnifies the Jihadi Threat
Part 5

The international community is weak and split over how to proceed in Iraq and against Iran. This may in part be a result of the fact that many European countries do not understand that the West is in the middle of a world war, a clash of civilizations and cultures with radical Islam. Ahmadinejad has been clearer on this point. He reportedly received one of 1,000 pirated copies of Professor Samuel Huntington's Clash of Civilizations that had been translated into Persian and trucked in to Tehran by the IRGC in the mid-1990s.

Washington also appears to have lost its post-9/11 footing. The Iraq Study Group (Baker-Hamilton) Report seems to underscore a growing preference among many in Washington for appeasing and negotiating over confronting and isolating the radical Islamists, particularly in Iran. The report's central recommendations that the Bush administration open diplomatic dialogue with Syria and Iran and actively pursue comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace negotiations – including Israel's return of the Golan Heights to Syria – represents a 180-degree-turn away from President Bush's policy since the September 11, 2001, attacks. Bush had declared in his 2002 State of the Union address that "some governments will be timid in the face of terror. And make no mistake about it: If they do not act, America will....If we stop now – leaving terror camps intact and terror states unchecked – our sense of security would be false and temporary."

Another example of the West's traditional preference for diplomacy and Israeli concessions over confrontation with radical Islam occurred in late 2001. Joschka Fischer, then Foreign Minister of Germany, stated on at least one occasion that Israel's unilateral and precipitous withdrawal from Lebanon in May 2000 served as a trigger for the subsequent Palestinian Authority war of terror that Arafat launched four months later. But while Fischer acknowledged the problem and even sounded like "an Israeli security hawk," according to a senior British foreign policy analyst present, he did not recant the pressure he placed on Israel for territorial concessions.

Aside from the Second Lebanon War, Israel has been hesitant to confront Iran and Syria. It had been much easier for Israelis to first confront and then negotiate with secular Arab states such as Egypt and Jordan, and reach bilateral peace treaties on the basis of the "land for peace" formula. However, in the case of Iran and its Jihadi proxies, Israel faces uncompromising enemies. This requires the Jewish state to confront the Jihadi threat and act with uncompromising political will.

Hizbullah is not nearly as dangerous a fighting forceas Egypt or Syria. However, the fundamentalist group's blind hatred of the West and its irrepressible political will to destroy Israel and export terror renders it largely immune from embracing what moderate and reform-minded Arab regimes and the West consider overriding national considerations such as economic interests. Iran and its proxies are not primarily motivated by the same national calculations characteristic of the West, but rather by religiously driven, apocalyptic dedication to vanquish Western democracies such as the United States and Israel. Therefore, conventional deterrence strategies such as "mutually assured destruction" that the United States employed opposite the former Soviet Union are not relevant opposite the Islamic Republic of Iran. Ahmadinejad appears more than prepared for Iran to suffer massive human losses to reach his objective of annihilating Israel and reaching a nuclear showdown with the United States.

Nonetheless, the passive posture of the United States, Europe, and even Israel, with regard to Iran, Syria, and their proxies has bolstered Jihadi confidence and has magnified their growing threat to the international state system. The West's interest in maintaining the current international order and avoiding a clash with radical Islamic leaderships has also enhanced Sunni and Shiite Jihadi appeal throughout the region, from Iraq to Jordan, in Lebanon, Gaza, Egypt and the West Bank.

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