Saturday, September 13, 2014

Note to Obama: All "Islamists" are Against Us

Dennis Ross
In an important New York Times column titled, “Islamists Are Not Our Friends,” Dennis Ross, former Middle East advisor to Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, argues that the powers we identify as “Islamic extremists” should simply be called “Islamists.” Sunni or Shia, Islamists believe in the Umma, the larger Muslim community that should cross and obliterate state lines. Their opponents are non-Islamists, and, Ross says, we must back the opposition.

Ross, I believe, is surfacing a battle going on behind the scenes in Washington pitting defenders of Israel against those closest to Obama, especially Valerie Jarrett and including foreign policy guru Les Gelb, Peter Beinart and others, who want Iran’s help in defeating the terrorist “Islamic State in Iraq and Syria” (ISIS). Jarrett, Gelb, and company don’t mind that partnering with Iran alarms Israel.

Ross is careful to hide Israel’s importance to this inside-the-Beltway struggle, mentioning Israel only once in passing. Ross doesn’t want to come across as just another pro-Israel American Middle East expert (Ross is Jewish). Also, the non-Islamist states Ross defends, nations to which Israel now looks for common cause, need protection from Islamists all too ready to brand Arabs willing to side with Israel as lackeys of the Jewish state.

Here are Ross’ major points:
  • non-Islamists want to know that the United States supports them. For America, that means not partnering with Iran against ISIS [emphasis added]. . . It means recognizing that Egypt is an essential part of the anti-Islamist coalition.
  • America should also coordinate with Egypt and the U.A.E.[, which] will make their military operations more effective, as well as provide America with greater ability to influence their actions. 
  • [While t]he Obama administration worries about the consequences of excluding all Islamists [and] appearing to give a blank check to authoritarian regimes. . . likely to prove unstable over time. . . America’s traditional partners are ready to act without us, convinced that the administration does not see all Islamists as a threat — and that America sees its interests as different from theirs. That is a problem. 
  • do not reach out to Islamists; their creed is not compatible with pluralism or democracy.  
Comment: Ross has given us a clear look at the real battle going on within Washington’s foreign policy establishment. It’s the battle we have been talking about over the past month.

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