Cole in Truthdig: Iran is Winning, Israel Losing

My new column is out in Truthdig: Leaks Suggest Iran Is Now Winning in the Middle East”

Excerpt:

Iran is winning and Israel is losing. That is the startling conclusion we reach if we consider how things have changed in the Middle East in the two years since most of the WikiLeaks State Department cables about Iran’s regional difficulties were written. Lebanon’s Sunni prime minister, once a virulent critic, quietly made his pilgrimage to the Iranian capital last week. Israeli hopes of separating Syria from Iran have been dashed. Turkey, once a strong ally of Israel, is now seeking better relations with Iran and with Lebanon’s Shiites.

Read the whole thing.

15 Responses

  1. Israel’s hope of separating Syria from Iran?

    I don’t think the Israelis ever had any such illusions. Only the United States was stupid enough to believe–and act towards–that fairy tale objective. As long as the Iranians remain a major player in Lebanon (“Greater Syria”), Syria will be their faithful ally.

    Syria may want the Golan but not as much as they desire hegemony (or more) in Lebanon. The West dangles the prospect of a return of the Golan but offers Syria the certainty of expulsion, or greatly diminished influence in Lebanon. Iran offers Syria a partnership, and then a blind eye in Lebanon and will back them in any future conflict to retrieve the Golan.

    Baby Assad may be unlucky but he’s not stupid.

  2. link to nytimes.com

    December 7, 2010

    U.S. Ends Push to Renew Israeli Freeze on Settlements
    By MARK LANDLER

    The Obama administration has abandoned an effort to get Israel’s government to renew a freeze on the construction of Jewish settlements, two senior officials said.

    • What? The invertebrate Barak Obama publicly take a “principled” position only to limp away from his usual drubbing lamely “compromising” what he never had any intention of insisting on in the first place? Surely, you jest. Right?

  3. Very true, and the case you make becomes stronger the more you look at the geopolitical circumstances, especially when viewed over time.

    The answer to pursuing true US interests is aligned very much with a modus vivendi (sp?) between Iran and the US. The problem with that scenario is that Hillary cannot go to Iran as Kissenger went to China. Politically she doesn’t have the juice and any such deal would get creamed by the GOP, just in-time for the 2012 elections (and now would be the very time to press this potential).

    Actually, STRATFOR.com analysis has developed this whole scenario. The way they see it, Obama has to go to his foreign policy portfolio at this point, being boxed in by a GOP committed to defeating him, personally. Iran is the center of gravity in many, many, regards. But, his choice is too effectively make a peace or a war.

    Now, thinking of the various pressures he must contend with, and more importantly, the options developed by his staff and the executive branch, how much traction do you think the notion of a grand bargain would get….versus a more manly option?

    Remember, the bottom line line of the GOP is that real men harden their positions and wimps go soft and pull out. When it gets down to it, the only reason we are still in Afghanistan is for Obama to have the hope of some support from the tough guys.

    Given your observations that Iran is slowly but surely having its way, won’t the political pressure become ever stronger to do the ONE thing we know we can do to attempt to spoil Iran’s successes and reelect a president in a time of war? Do we think Obama has the strength of character to go up against all that pressure? Would the GOP, the right wingnuts, or Israel and its acolytes, ever tolerate the suggestion that a deal cut with Iran was a good deal?

    • Do the schoolyard bullies who steal President Obama’s lunch money every day at recess really harbor any intentions of letting their favorite punching bag look “tough” on anything? I rather doubt it. As philosopher/scientist/logician Charles Sanders Peirce once said: “Where two faiths flourish side by side, renegades are looked on with contempt, even by the party whose beliefs they have adopted.” Translation: Who would trust as a new recruit a turncoat who regularly betrays his own party?

      Barak Obama apparently cannot learn from either recent history or his own failed experiences seeking “bipartisanship” from pathological partisans determined to see him fail at everything he attempts. In Iraq and Afghanistan, even as he drags out and deepens the debilitating debacles began by Deputy Dubya Bush, the Republicans only “support” him in his folly because they know it will lead to ruin for which they will blame him — claiming preposterously that “their guy” really had it all “won” before a “Democrat” came along to screw things up.

      I’ve heard it claimed that Obama plays some sort of Vulcan 11-dimensional chess that we veterans of the Nixon-Kissinger Fig Leaf Contingent (Vietnam 1970-72) cannot possibly understand or appreciate. In fact, the bungling boob doesn’t seem capable of taking up the game of checkers with any prospect of learning how to play. He seems pathetically obtuse, not to mention politically tone-deaf and incompetent. I’d say that Iran has little to fear from him as an adversary — quite the opposite.

  4. Hogwash….ever hear the saying “Stay close to your friends and closer to your enemies”?

    That’s what Saad Hariri’s is doing. Iran had his father assassinated and can turn Hizbollah loose at any moment. He is begging for appeasement regardless of how he really feels. Would you befriend your fathers assassin? I don’t think so.

    As for Erogdan, per Wikileaks and his actions it is apparent he is a Fundamandilist and can’t stand Israel. He, like Ahmajinadad demonizes Israel for political gain of the far right.

    Iran is the arguably the most isolated country in world now other then the North Koreans. How can that be a gain ?

    • Russia and China — among a host of other nations and corporate entities — continue trading with energy-rich Iran because of the obvious benefits of doing so. (Think Iran/Contra and the Reagan Administration that publicly refused to have any dealings with the country it regularly dealt with).

      Empty and meaningless “sanctions” — otherwise known as “embargoes,” “punishment,” or “acts of war” — have so far done little except expose the erstwhile “punishers” as ineffective and hypocritical losers. This has not gone unobserved in the Middle East, where real loss of power and influence by America and Israel continue further and further to isolate the deranged duo from a world grown tired of their belligerent bullying.

    • Because whhile Iran may be becoming more isolated globally (maybe) … They are actually gaining regionally. As this grows -and I believe it will-it will force the hand of the US and Israel and their policy of israeli regional hegemony.

      Regarding their global isolation, I think we are witnessing a reshuffling of the world order. The US is losing it’s influence. Countries that were willing or forced to subordinate their self interests for policies more desirable to the US are willing to spread their wings (read: turkey and brazil) for policies that meet their own views of the world. Iran just needs to wait out the inevitable demise of the US.

      • I agree. But my point (above) was that a big, dumb bully, when totally finessed by a barely third-rate power, can still do ONE thing, and the naturally reaction of such a character is to strike out, however wildly and irrationally it may appear. It is a matter of striking out against impotence, in a way that is in equal parts desperate and pathetic.

        The only thing that stands between that eventuality, as relentlessly pressed by the neocons and Israelis, with their bought and paid for US Congress, is the Big O.

        Now, given his current domestic impotence, his only chance to show himself as capable and defeat a plausible GOP candidate would be to effectively execute a War or a Peace, and Iran is the glaringly obvious problem to be solved. (It just occurred to me that when his biggest worry is Sarah Palin, he’s got more wiggle room than I was originally thinking. Still, the pressure will be on to go one way or the other.)

  5. Israel is as isolated as both Iran and North Korea. Iran has neighbors who work with it, for various reasons. Same goes for North Korea, and can count on China, period.

    Israel has the US and Europe. Amazing to see the similarity between these three nations.

    quite a group to belong to and in.

  6. “Iran had his father assassinated and can turn Hizbollah loose at any moment.”

    This is lying, typical lying.

  7. Dear Professor Cole

    The Israelis have elected to comit suicide.

    link to guardian.co.uk

    Do you think they are being deliberately “agent provocateur” and using their Agent in Place Dennis Ross to provoke a shooting war in collusion with US Generals who actually want to win something?

    Remember the French Generals who were defeated at Dien Bien Phu and went on to the killing zones of Algeria. plus ca change…

    Written with deepest cynicism.

  8. Dear Professor Cole

    Akiva Eldar in Haaretz seems to be on the button.

    link to haaretz.com

    The significance of the U.S. decision to stop pushing for a moratorium, which was reported on Tuesday, is that Obama is refusing to give Netanyahu a seal of approval to build in Jerusalem. He also isn’t giving out any Christmas presents if Israel is so kind as to comply with the road map and respect international law. The president also understands that after three months of a second settlement freeze, he would have found himself without any kind of agreement and facing repeated Arab demands to extend the freeze again, necessitating another exhausting bargaining session with Netanyahu.

    The U.S. announcement has been in the offing for a number of days, but was held off until the hysteria over the Carmel fire died down. The Americans acceded to the entreaties of the Palestinians and their friends in the Arab states, who demanded that Obama finally announce who the good guys are and who the bad guys are.

  9. Now that Obama has put himself in a position where the democrats in congress may hand him a tax defeat after he very inadvisedly ripped into the democrats instead of lambasting the republicans, I wonder how he will react when the nation of Palestine comes before the UNSC and there are 14 yes votes.

    Will Obama abstain, making AIPAC and Likud very mad or will he veto the motion completely isolating the US and Israel? The 7 December Rachel Maddow show wondered if Obama may have made himself irrelevant.

    link to msnbc.msn.com

    Obama may have shot himself in the foot one too many times.

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