While the world's eyes are fixed on the American
election coming up soon, another election with equal importance for America's
future crawled onto the calendar over the past weekend (don't expect a monarchist
to think highly of elections). Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni gave up
her efforts to form a new Israeli government and called for elections. Her
move may be a last negotiating gambit. If not, Israel will probably face national
elections in February 2009.
At present some, polls suggest the Likud Party will win. If that happens,
it will mean as much for America as for Israel. Why? Because America's Middle
Eastern policy is effectively the tail on Likud's dog. Many American neocons,
those great guys who gave us the war in Iraq, are de facto members of
Likud. Several leading American neocons wrote Likud's strategy for Israel,
which calls for someone – guess who? – to destroy every Middle Eastern country
that could be a threat to Israel. The American invasion of Iraq represented
in part that strategy being put into effect.
Those who imagine an Obama victory will see the neocons shown the door are
in for an unpleasant surprise. Under the guise of neo-libs, they are no less
influential in the Democratic establishment than in the Republican. The only
way Likud could get shut out of a Democratic administration is if Obama bypasses
the whole establishment in choosing his foreign and defense policy appointments.
While that is fervently to be wished, it is probably not going to happen. Like
figures on a medieval clock, the Republican and Democratic establishments succeed
each other in an unbroken chain of policy failure.
A Likud government in Israel come next spring would make two wars virtually
certain: a war between Israel and Hezbollah and another between Israel and
Iran. The Israeli military leadership recently announced that in the event
of another war with Hezbollah, Israel would destroy Lebanon's civilian infrastructure
throughout the country. Since the neo-libs will make certain America backs
Israel to the hilt, worldwide Islamic anger over the unnecessary destruction
of a small, helpless Middle Eastern country (at least a third of whose people
are Christians) will focus as much on America as on Israel. Islamic 4GW organizations
will get a huge boost to their recruiting and fundraising, while the legitimacy
of Islamic states with ties to America will be further weakened.
An Israeli attack on Iran, in turn, could bring about the loss of the army
America has in Iraq. If I sound like Cato in repeating this warning endlessly,
I do so with reason. The destruction of an entire American army would mark
an historic turning point, America's Syracuse Expedition, which is what the
Iraq war has resembled from the start. Our strategic position in Iraq hangs
by a thread, its long, thin supply line coming up through the Persian Gulf
and Kuwait. If Iran and its allied Iraqi Shi'ite militias cut that line, the
best outcome we can hope for is a sauve qui peut withdrawal of U.S.
forces north into Kurdistan.
To this happy picture a Likud government in Israel might add a war with Syria
and an open U.S. break with Pakistan, driven by Pakistani popular anger at
America for its alliance with a Likud-led Israel. That would cut our main supply
line for the war in Afghanistan, again forcing a withdrawal.
All of this would occur against a background of a world economic depression,
a depression wars in the Middle East would intensify. The price of oil, now
artificially depressed by a fire sale of commodities held by hedge funds, would
soar to unprecedented heights. Those countries still exporting oil might dump
the dollar and demand payment in gold. The American defense budget could skyrocket
at a time when the U.S. faced an urgent need to cut federal spending, leading
to printing-press dollars and hyperinflation.
It may be that elections in Israel hold more meaning for the United States
than does America's own coming vote. One writer quoted in the Washington
Post said that if McCain wins, history will pay America a visit, "the
shroud, the scythe, and all Four Horsemen." That may be no less true if
Obama wins, unless he improbably finds the wisdom and courage to break with
the Democratic Party's foreign policy establishment. That establishment is
as tied to Israel as Russia's foreign policy establishment was tied to Serbia
in 1914. Past, I suspect, is prologue.