Thursday, January 15, 2009

Hamas and Iran

The Israeli operation against Hamas is unfolding as we predicted a couple of weeks ago and is likely well on the way to completion. The objective is to dig up and destroy every Hamas asset including any fool desirous of martyrdom. There is no creditable diplomatic activity that will even slow this process down.

The residents of Gaza will then be in a position to take control of their own destiny if they have the stomach for it. The remaining living members of Hamas will be badly shaken.

This represents one more incremental step in the resolution of the historic conflict between Israel and the Islamic world. The door is now open for the Palestinian political infrastructure to assert real command and control and to enter into a settlement with Israel that can last. A chastened Hamas may stay in the background and learn to behave.

Hezbollah in Southern Lebanon after claiming a great victory have good reason to keep their heads down. Everyone likes to savor success even when it is at best a Pyrrhic victory when your side did most of the dying and burning. Next time the Israelis will be providing the Hamas treatment and will come fully prepared.

A more difficult situation is the Iranian standoff. Obama has signaled a williness to open discussions. This is something that I fully support. Isolating petty dictators, whatever their stripe has ever proven to be at best a simple failure. It is a failure because it permits the targeted leader to fully deploy homeland security apparatus in his country under visible duress and pushes him into an accommodation with your stronger enemies.

At present we are getting buzz regarding a possible Israeli air raid on Iranian nuclear targets. It is not going to happen because it really does need US cooperation for air space access. The news that such a request was turned down was a forcible reminder to the Iranians that the USA is shielding them.

Iran is still a problem that belongs to the USA. The good news is that the leadership is aging out and burning out their internal political support. The challenge is to contain their nuclear enthusiasms while nature takes its course as happened to the USSR. It has served their ends to be paymasters for the thugs in Gaza and Lebanon and Syria. At the same time, those same thugs have depleted their political capital by accepting Iran’s money and are all seriously isolated.

The present danger is that these folks will see it as advantageous to humiliate the new president in some way or the other. That has been their folly to date. Can you imagine now different the Middle East would look today had the Iranians not humiliated Carter with the hostage crisis? It was an Iranian ego trip at the time that utterly backfired and set the diplomatic stage for the Iraq – Iran war. And everything else that followed including the ongoing support for their clients in Gaza and Lebanon.

What has changed? The end of the oil age has been announced and everyone is now on notice that the globe will now move heaven and earth to leave the rest in the ground. This war is now been fought economically and Iran political structure is an oil financed theocracy that has failed to advance the internal economy significantly. This contradiction is now been exposed as pressures build.

In the long term they could be as bankrupt as the old USSR and naturally vulnerable to internal upheaval and the impact of external pressure.

In the long term they and their clients are on a downward spiral of systemic failure that no amount of American cash can stave off.

Let us hope that Prime Minister Whack Job who is great at overplaying his hand to the local rabble does not convince someone outside Iran that he can deliver before he is bundled of to retirement. At least they are pretty quick about that in Iran.

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