Thursday, March 31, 2011 5:31 AM
There is a new divide by which we define ourselves: Those who suck in the acrid smell of jihad in the Middle East, pronounce their hallucinations "Arab Spring," crave more ... and those who don't. Among those of us who "just say no" to this nowhere trip, it should be noted, are those who take their sharia seriously, and see its extension as the lingering and insidious side effect, the one that take us down when the vapors are no more.
The Fox News commentariat is where you find the highest and most persistent rate of "Arab Spring" abuse, as Andy McCarthy notes here, Fred Grandy here, but its use is widespread and indiscriminate because it enables users to see the world as they want to see it. On the conservative side of the spectrum, one dose of "Arab Spring" and the "Bush freedom agenda" looks like a brilliantly red, white and blue success, not the bleak, endless nightmare that it is.
Melanie Phillips weighs in today (via Ruthfully Yours) on the appropriately outraged side of Political Temperance. She concludes that the West has made itself "an open goal for its enemies," and pronounces herself "[gaping] in stunned amazement at the extent of the idiocy being displayed by the leaders of America, Britain and Europe over the `Arab Spring' -- which should surely be renamed `the Arab Boomerang.' "
Boomerang is right. Among the cautionary lore supporting the skeptics is the boomerang effect of empowering active jihadist groups, which, first and foremost, will strike at the tip of the spear against the jihad, Israel. The other beneficiary is the jihadist state of Iran.
All, however, would agree that tectonic plates are shifting, and they move at such a rate as to blur the emerging pattern. For example, why intervention in Libya where a terror-kingpin-dictator is killing his people, but not in Syria where a terror-kingpin-dictator is killing his people? The trigger-happy Obama administration's rationale is perfectly lame.
But maybe not. Phillips, picking up on the apparent discrepancy, writes:
As a result, moderate Arabs are appalled by western hypocrisy. In
two articles in Al Sharq al Awsat its editor Tariq Alhomayed suggested that the U.S. had failed to realize that the demands of the Shi’ite protestors in Bahrain were not democratic, but a manifestation of Iran’s threat to Bahrain and the Gulf states.:
‘Amidst America’s contradictory comments regarding the events in our region, one particular statement always stands out, namely the call for restraint. Two days ago, the Americans reiterated this same statement in comments on the [GCC's] Peninsula Shield Force’s entering Manama, at Bahrain’s request.
How can the U.S. defense secretary say that Bahrain must enact speedy reforms to put an end to Iranian interference… while the Americans are also issuing statements saying that in Yemen, protests are not the solution, and that there must be dialogue? Why must the Bahrain government to act immediately, while the demonstrators in Yemen must to wait? This is wrong, and it raises both suspicion and doubt.
…This is not to mention that that the U.S. is ignoring what is happening in Iran, where the state oppresses its minorities. [As recently as] yesterday, the Iranian opposition has tried to come out and protest in Tehran, only to be repressed, and its key figures have been arrested. This is a perplexing matter indeed, but it clearly tells us something – that is, that Washington does not have a clear picture of what is going on in the region, and that even if it does, it is too weak to act.”
Or, possibly, that Washington really has nothing much against the Iranian status quo and even expansion. "Clear picture" and this "region" don't necessarily converge, but is it the case that a trend is emerging whereby it is discernible US policy not to repulse the Iranian-axis?
Let me rephrase the question, because it is has been US policy since the 1979 takeover of the US Embassy in Tehran not to repulse the Iranian axis, even though Iran has committed innumerable, catastrophic and unavenged and unaddressed acts of war against the US.
Is a trend emerging from the sands of Arab Spring of -- how to describe -- a more concerted, more definite US policy to tolerate the Iranian axis?
It is the very interesting case that America has eschewed all forms of solicitude for Saudi Arabian concerns, the rival Muslim power in the region, whom the US has long served as loving (blech) ally and arms pureyor while simultaneously enacting sanctions and other coolnesses on Iran. Surely, this is an unexpected turn from the president who bowed to the Saudi king. And surely, there are strategic implications to this overt shift. (UPDATE: See this McClatchey rundown on the springtime "wedge" between the US and the Saudis by my old Wash Times colleague Warren Strobel here.)
What are they? It begins to look as if the Al Sharq al Awsat editor is touching on something, that Libya yes, Syria no is suggesting something, along with the White House's abuse of Israel as a point of policy to the emboldenment of Hamas (although this also pleases the rest of the umma, from Riyadh to Tehran): There seems to be a marked determination to follow a hands-off-Iran policy.
Had the US been operating to counter Iran (and therefore in alignment with what has always been forced down our gullets, with a steady IV drip of oil, as "our great ally Saudi Arabia"), we would have supported Mubarak, would now support Bahrain against Iranian-ginned-up Shia opposition protests --- or at least wouldn't be pressuring Bahrain to appease this Iran-linked opposition, a potential regional flashpoint. (Elliott Abrams, meanwhile, doesn't see any evidence of Iranian "colonization"of Bahrain's Shiites.) Syria, so far exempted from US intervention, humanitarian or otherwise, while we push for diplomatic solutions, is a special terror pal of Iran's. As even the Wall Street Journal has noticed in surveying the landscape, "hardliners in Syria and Iran, and those within Lebanon's Hezbollah leadership and Gaza's Hamas government, still seem secure."
A veritable Iranian axis, seemingly unopposed at every turn by the US.
Is this purely accidental? I'm not suggesting the US did or could engineer this array of Iran-positive powers left standing -- which, of could, with a big enough wind, could also fall. But have we in effect gotten out Iran's way? Is that what we're doing? Are these our new boys?