Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Coming U.S.-Iran(-Russia) Axis

Valerie Jarrett with Iran Flag
Former Council of Foreign Relations president Leslie Gelb continues to press for Obama to partner with Iran.  Gelb is apparently seeking a U.S. foreign policy surprise that parallels what Henry Kissinger achieved with his secret 1971 trip to China on the eve of U.S. defeat in Vietnam. When Kissinger sold rapprochement with China to President Nixon, the two turned disaster into triumph.

Iran is no China, and America’s Middle East problems, serious as they are, don’t compare to the dangers we faced in the Nixon-Kissinger Cold War era. Partnering with Iran would be a pale imitation of Nixon’s opening to China. Nevertheless, here’s evidence, in his latest writings, of Gelb’s effort to replicate the Kissinger strategy:  
  •  Gelb kisses up to his “boss” in Kissinger-like fashion, writing,
Mr. Obama always says a lot of smart things—and mostly without Hillary-like hedges. Much more than most foreign policy blabbermouths, he is attuned to the underlying centrality of politics in most world problems, and to the need to seek diplomatic solutions.
  • As did Kissinger, Gelb shifts focus to a new enemy to justify a new partner:
If the jihadis are allowed to . . . gain a strong foothold in the Middle East, all other neighboring nations will be seriously jeopardized. But these are not stakes for America alone. The costs are great for dozens of nations. . . the United States . . . must have partners and allies. The jihadis are a direct threat to Assad’s Syria, Russia, Iran. . . Yes, Moscow and Tehran are troublesome[, but] they feel as or more threatened by the jihadis, and would be as or more willing than Washington to contribute to the jihadi defeat. . . which is the bigger threat, Assad or the jihadis, the jihadis or Iran?
We fought in Vietnam to contain China. Kissinger told Nixon the real enemy wasn’t China, it was the Soviet Union. Nixon agreed; paving the way for America's opening to China.

Now Gelb is pushing Obama toward declaring the “Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS)” the principal enemy (even as he calls them, "only about 327.   .   . riding in circles around the mountains to make it look like they have 2 million"), instead of the Iran-Russia-Syria-Turkey-Qatar-Hezbollah-Hamas grouping that threatens Israel; potentially including a nuclear-armed Iran able to threaten us.

I think Gelb is dangerous, even more so because the Iran-born Valerie Jarrett, Obama’s closest confidante, presumably agrees with Gelb.  Lest you think me an alarmist, read this latest from sober conservative sage Walter Russell Mead:
If there is one fixed star in the administration’s Middle East policy it has been the belief that a ‘grand bargain’ with Iran offers the best hope for regional stabilization. From the campaign trail back in the Democratic primary season in 2008 right up through the current round of negotiations with Iran, President Obama has done his best to steer American policy toward some kind of arrangement with the government in Tehran.
many of the President’s advisers share a belief that the rise of ISIS is as frightening to the mullahs as it is to the West, and that the new jihadi peril will therefore strengthen the factions in Iran who believe in compromise with the West. They will. . . urge President Obama to . . . seize the opportunity for a breakthrough with Iran. U.S. negotiators will sweat blood to meet the new November deadline in talks with Tehran. . . and militarily we may even look for ways to cooperate with Iran against ISIS.
Comment: You can bet “many advisers” means Jarrett. And you can bet this line of thinking freaks out Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the Arab Gulf states, and most especially Israel. Still, the pleading tone of Gelb’s article suggests Obama may not yet have signed on to a dramatic “opening to Iran.”

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