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March 5, 2015 1:01 pm

Mutually Assured Delusion: Obama Outsources US Middle East Policy to Iran

avatar by Harry Ben-Zvi and Gidon Ben-Zvi

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The Arak IR-40 heavy water reactor in Iran. Photo: Nanking2012 / WikiCommons.

The Arak IR-40 heavy water reactor in Iran. Photo: Nanking2012 / WikiCommons.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu‘s address to a joint session of the United Congress on Tuesday sought to call into question the perennially troubled Obama administration’s Middle East policy.

Even many supporters of President Obama are finding it increasingly difficult to defend a White House approach to the most volatile region on earth that is perceived as muted, muddled, and generally reactive.

This perception, however, is mistaken: there is indeed a clear, coherent Obama Doctrine for the Middle East.

The Obama Doctrine is predicated on the belief that an ascending Shia power such as Iran is a natural ally in the West’s goal of developing a counterweight to ISIS and other Sunni Islamist groups.

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This assumption, coupled with a disturbingly rosy assessment as to the threat Islamists pose to regional and global stability, justifies an ebbing US presence in the Mideast.

This informal union of interests is already redrawing the Middle East map.

President Obama’s tacit acceptance of Teheran’s expanding theater of operations in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, the Golan Heights, Yemen, and Gaza is tantamount to American-Iranian collusion in the eyes of many Sunni leaders.

Regarding nuclear negotiations with Iran, the contents and consequence of a nuclear agreement between the United States and Iran are less pertinent to Obama than the inking of a deal – any deal.

For the Obama Doctrine’s very legitimacy is staked to the signing of a negotiated settlement with the Islamic Republic. Once given the international community’s good housekeeping seal of approval, Iran’s critics – namely Israel – will become increasingly irrelevant and ignored.

Obama’s logic is a hopeless mess because it is based on the assumption that the Cold War doctrine of Mutually Assure Destruction (MAD) is in relevant in today’s radicalized, theologically driven Middle East.

The Obama Doctrine is tethered to the hope that neither Shia nor Sunni extremists would dare launch a nuclear attack since the other side would undoubtedly retaliate with equal or greater force.

Thing is, MAD only makes sense if the parties to a conflict have displayed an ability to act in a rational manner.

Unfortunately for America’s misguided Chief Executive, the mullah regime in Tehran today bears no resemblance to the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

Similar to other Muslim theocracies in the Middle East, Iranian leaders do not formulate policies based on a set of rationally calculated national interests but rather by what best serves their savage interpretation of the religion of Islam.

The US and Soviet Union were deterred by the prospects of a nuclear holocaust. In contrast, Islamist regimes across the Middle East are emboldened by the idea of accelerating the process of establishing a worldwide caliphate: a single theocratic government that will overthrow the world’s current political systems.

And have no fear: a nuclear armed, ideologically driven Teheran will be highly resolved to multiply its territorial ambitions, no doubt triggering a regional nuclear arms race.

If the Obama Doctrine is not reversed, the forecast for the Middle East can be summed up as follows:

“And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, and it’s a hard. It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall.” – Bob Dylan.

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