Monday 15 April 2024

Iran / Israel: George Bush Snr's 1991 doctrine needed

Prisoners of Geography (Tim Marshall) is a well known, oft-quoted book on geopolitics.  It's really an A-level text - first-year university stuff at best.  I don't have a copy to hand.  But the weekend's news from the middle east brings one of Marshall's often quite blunt assessments to mind, which from memory runs roughly thus: 

A lot of people in middle eastern nations harbour vicious and irreconcilable hatreds against each other.  It's a typical mistake made by western folks, not to believe middle easterners when they say they hate someone, and what they intend to do about it.

OK, so we believe it: this whole matter is filled with irreconcilable hatreds, and people hell-bent on killing their neighbours.  And that these hatreds can spill out all over the place, not least the www.  So let's try to keep this thread strategic.

1) Looks like Netanyahu, in furtherance of his political / personal goals, has played Biden ruthlessly, successfully - and transparently.  Plenty of commentators saw a canny, US-suckering escalation coming.  Forewarned isn't always forearmed.  Still, Biden should have been able to do better than this for the furtherance of his own goals - not least of which is retaining independence of agency.  That said ...

2)  "Can the USA be relied upon any more to protect its friends then, eh?"  And indeed, can coordinated onslaughts of massed, mix-&-match missiles be defended against - by anyone?  Russia thought it had proven the answers were "no", and "no".  Well, there's a bit more to ponder now, on the part of the many people in the RoW who have been wondering about that.  Including ...      

3)  Taiwan and, errr, China.   Ah yes, China.  We read that, once again, the Chinese are "very interested" in what's going on in the middle east.  But, once again, just as in the case of their some-time client Libya, China's role seems to be that of a rather academically interested spectator.  When are they going to become that global great power they keep billing themselves as?  And it's back to the drawing board for that invasion of his own Xi keeps toying with.  ("One Iron Dome system, please, for the oriental gentleman to the north of the Philippines.") 

So, back to Netanyahu.  In 1991, Saddam Hussein launched a wave of Scuds on Israel (and Saudi).  George Bush Snr told Israel to stay its hand - which was just as well, because the pointy end of the  Israeli airforce had taken off moments before the first missile landed (we could detect Scuds at launch even in those days) and was in a holding pattern, waiting for the order to nuke Baghdad etc.  (You might like to refer back to my 30th anniversary account of this episode.) 

We all need "Ironclad" Biden** to dust off his history and make that call, firmly and credibly.  Is he up to it?  



**Wasn't that subtle of him, eh?  See, he does have some advisers with their heads screwed on.  They just seem to go missing at vital moments.


dearieme said...

"for the furtherance of his own goals"

"Own goals R us" said Lezgo Brandon, nominal President of the USA. "On the word of O'Biden."

Matt said...

I think that Marshall quote is accurate. Take Hamas and the "two state" solution as an example. It keeps getting bandied about as the only game in town to resolve the problem, yet ignores the fact that Hamas won't accept an Israeli state. They hate the Jews and won't compromise that. Plus they are on a mission from God (well Allah, but that's screws up my Blues Brothers reference!).

Anonymous said...

The same vicious hatreds are to be seen in the "Bloodlands", from Croatia to the Baltic.

I'm not so sure the defence wins out. I heard about the attack about 8pm, when the slow "old" (from a year ago!) Shaheds still had hours to go to Israel, and Israel and satraps (that's US and "us") had hours to prepare. It's the ballistics that are of concern.

Is it in US interests to play this all down, "well, Israel, you sure cleaned their clock, victory is yours"? Pre-Ukraine I'd have said no, they want war and just need an excuse. Now I just don't know.

(Be fair, Matt - BOTH sides are on a mission from God)

Diogenes said...

Is the invocation of God or Allah or ANO strategic? Russia are doing it in their holy war against Ukraine. Seems God is a fickle deity.

Back to the 2-state solution. Some argue that there can only be a 1 state solution but that raises the question of who can be a citizen? How do those from the other state become citizens, especially the displaced ones? Or will they all be displaced so others can have a seaside plot in Gaza (plus the offshore gas).

If it to be a 2 state solution, a genuine second state ought to be able to acquire weapons for defence - however defined.

This then poses the duck question - if it walks like a duck etc. How does one define the current situation where one state has carved up the second in the way Israel has done in the West Bank with areas A, B and C plus the exclusive areas/roads for settlers.

What would you favourite deity say?

Anonymous said...

@ "How does one define the current situation where one state has carved up the second in the way Israel has done in the West Bank with areas A, B and C plus the exclusive areas/roads for settlers. What would you favourite deity say?"

Not being a scholar of either the OT or the Koran, but I'm willing to bet there are complicated rules all set down. After the bit about your neighbour's ox.

As a fall-back, Smiting is prescribed for many eventualities.

jim said...

A nuke is a marvelous thing - until you get one back - so don't go there.

I should think having a go at power plants and industrial sites would be likely - either by cyber or by conventional means. Both sides could play at that for a while. A bit more economic warfare also on the cards.

The next problem is Raffa and then what happens in November. Gaza could in time make a nice site for a chain of hotels and golf courses. The outlook for the Palestinians is not so good, but they could have a nice life - somewhere else. November may decide.

Drone ping pong until November with a better ballistic effort perhaps. A game of asymmetrical cost made more interesting by fast and high clusters of ballistics. Come November things could get bad for Tehran, get those centrifuges spinning, unplug the internet and no USB sticks.

Israel knows Biden has to play fairly nice - for electoral reasons. After that things might change.

Anonymous said...

I'm seeing reports that the US is asking, just as it asked Israel to declare a victory over the drones, is asking Iran to accept a symbolic Israeli strike - "just a little one, honest". Iran have said they will shoot back.

I see we were involved in shooting down Iranian drones, despite the fact that Israel gave Argentina as much help as it could in the Falklands.

After the Argentine Air Force contacted Isrex, the Israeli defence company, a meeting was arranged between representatives of the company and Begin. Israel Lotersztain, a salesman for Isrex Argentina, said Begin interrupted the Isrex officials as they tried to explain the situation, saying: "You've come to talk badly about the British. Is this going to be used to kill the English? Kadima (go ahead). Dov [Gruner] up there is going to be happy with the decision. Obviously, it must be all done perfectly."

Gruner was hanged by the Brits for a terrorist attack on a police station.

Anonymous said...

"An influential global body has forecast Russia's economy will grow faster than all of the world's advanced economies, including the US, this year. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) expects Russia to grow 3.2% this year, significantly more than the UK, France and Germany. Oil exports have "held steady" and government spending has "remained high" contributing to growth, the IMF said.

They were right when they said sanctions would do huge damage to the economy, they just didn't say which one.