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The Libya Precedent
Israel - Middle East
Monday, April 11, 2011
Jack Kinsella - Omega Letter Editor

“We are facing a diplomatic-political tsunami that the majority of the public is unaware of and that will peak in September.” - Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak

The Palestinian Authority is planning to cash in on the wave of unrest and uncertainty sweeping the Middle East, working behind the scenes to build support for a UN resolution welcoming the State of Palestine as a member whose territory includes all of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.

That includes land that Israel has controlled for forty years, including some Israel had intended to keep in any two-state solution scenario. Especially Jerusalem.

In the event that such a resolution was to pass, Israel would automatically be an occupying force on land belonging to a fellow UN member.

Ehud Barak called the situation “very dangerous” and said that “paralysis, rhetoric and inaction” will only serve to deepen Israel’s international isolation. 

Unfortunately for Israel, paralysis, rhetoric and inaction when it comes to America's allies are the Obama administration’s strong suits.

When strong, decisive leadership was demanded during Iran’s failed revolution in 2009, Obama was on the golf course.  For six long days, Iran teetered, waiting for some word from the United States. 

When Obama finally broke his silence to condemn the Iranian government's reaction to the demonstrations, his criticism was tempered by his reference to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as "President" Ahmadinejad and to Ayatollah Ali Khameni as "Supreme Leader."

The demonstrators heard what they needed to hear. Obama recognized Ahamadinejad's presidency as legitimate while acknowledging Khameni as Iran's 'Supreme Leader'.

Since the catalyst for the revolt was Khameni's legitimization of Ahmadinejad's election, Obama's 'condemnation' cut the legs out from under the revolution. Obama justified his inaction by saying he “didn’t want to meddle” in Iran’s internal affairs.

When Hosni Mubarak’s reign was imperiled, Obama lost no time meddling in Egypt’s internal affairs, calling for his ouster with no regard for how it might impact Israel.  

He lost even less time intervening militarily in Libya, devoid of either legal justification or Congressional support. 

But the so-called “Arab Spring” isn’t the catalyst for backing the Israelis into a corner.  It is the justification.

One wonders why Obama the great peacemaker would lead the US headlong into an unplanned, ill-conceived and ultimately useless military excursion against, of all people, his pastor’s old friend Muammar Ghadaffi?

Especially without the advice and consent of the Congress?  And without any clear threat to any US interests?And without any endgame strategy  -- or even and endgame? 

I am starting to suspect that the only purpose for the attack on Libya is to establish a precedent.

“And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.”(Zechariah 12:3)

Obama had plenty of time to go to the Congress for authorization.  He probably would have gotten it, too.  But he didn’t, even though bypassing Congress violated the Constitution and could even justify articles of impeachment. 

But Obama didn’t even try.  Instead, he worked the Arab League as if it was the US Senate and the UN Security Council as if it was the Congress. 

Armed only with international authorizations, he proceeded to commit US forces to combat in what the War Powers Act defines as an illegal war.

One can want Ghadaffi removed, Ghadaffi can deserve to be removed, and it might be extremely satisfying for him to be removed, but none of those reasons make the war legal.  And Obama knows it, which is why nobody in the administration will call it a war.

Again, we have this problem of discerning whether Obama is a brilliant strategist playing six moves ahead of everyone else – or if he is the most incompetent buffoon ever trusted with the keys to the nuclear football.

In September, 2009 the Palestinian Prime Minister announced his government would seek statehood within two years.  Last September, President Obama said that he expected to have a framework for an independent Palestinian state within one year. 

And this September, the Palestinian Authority says it is prepared to take his membership before the UN General Assembly.  Thanks to the Islamic and Arab majorities at the UN, it is expected to pass the General Assembly easily. 

Membership is determined by the General Assembly and not by the Security Council.  In the GA there are no vetoes.  In the GA, Washington’s voice is no louder than that of Micronesia’s.

What would a unilateral declaration of statehood mean to Israel?  It would mean that Israel would then be in daily violation of the rights of a legal UN member state with all the legal and diplomatic consequences thereunto appertaining.

Using the intervention in Libya as our guide, it means that the UN and Arab League would be perfectly justified in ordering no-fly and no-go zones in Israel to defend Palestinian ‘patriots’ seeking to repatriate their own land.

Using that same template, President Obama could order the United States forces to intervene militarily against Israel, without either the consultation or approval of the Congress.  If Obama wants to duck questions, he can always order the assault and then go on vacation for a couple of weeks.

In Ha’aretz last week, Ari Shavit compared the risks posed to Israel in 2011 to the biggest military setback Israel ever faced, the 1973 war.  The Yom Kippur War was the closest Israel had ever come to being annihilated by the Arab enemy. 

He wrote that “2011 is going to be a diplomatic 1973,” because a Palestinian state will be recognized internationally.

“Every military base in the West Bank will be contravening the sovereignty of an independent U.N. member state.” He added, “A diplomatic siege from without and a civil uprising from within will grip Israel in a stranglehold.”

Mikhail Jubran, writing for the Palestinian Chronicle, called 2011 “The Year of Living Dangerously.”

Did you notice that it’s only April?

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