“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."
Tuesday, March 10, 2015
America, we have a problem. In the blood-soaked chaotic Middle East, with few exceptions like the Kurds, our friends either can’t or won’t fight.
The Free Syrian Army folded. The U.S.-armed Hazm force in Syria has just collapsed after being routed by the al-Nusra Front. The Iraqi army we trained and equipped fled Mosul and ran all the way to Baghdad.
The Turks could annihilate ISIS in Syria, but they won’t fight. Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Arabs have sent zero troops to fight ISIS. A handful of air strikes is it.
Now consider what our old enemies have done and are doing.
Hezbollah and Iran have sustained Bashar Assad’s Syrian army for four years and have ISIS and the al-Nusra Front on the defensive around Aleppo.
Iran and its allied Shiite militia in Iraq are battling ISIS for Tikrit.
Backed by Hezbollah, Houthi rebels have seized Yemen’s capital and are battling al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. AQAP is the No. 1 terrorist threat to the U.S. homeland.
While Iran and its allies are fighting al-Qaida and ISIS, Turkey and our Arab allies are malingerers at best and collaborators at worst.
How explain this? Not difficult.
The Shiites, a religious minority in the Muslim world — Hezbollah, Assad’s regime, Baghdad, Tehran — see ISIS as a mortal threat and are willing to fight to kill the monster.
Our Sunni allies won’t go out and fight ISIS, because that would make them allies of Iran and the Shiites, whom they fear even more.
Our Sunni friends want America to crush ISIS and al-Qaida, then to crush Hezbollah, Syria and Iran. But why is it in our interest to send U.S. troops back into any of these wars?
Is America more threatened than our Arab allies?
Rather than listening to allies who are non-combatants, we should take a hard look at the Mideast. To whom does the future belong? And with what can we live?
The Republicans want to give a blank check to Obama and any future president to fight ISIS and al-Qaida everywhere and forever. And they want the United States to treat Iran as we should have treated Nazi Germany had Hitler been about to get the bomb.
But if the GOP platform takes the neocon-Netanyahu line that we must not only fight ISIS and al-Qaida, but also Iran and Syria, the party will imperil its improving chances for 2016.
Americans don’t want another war.
And if John Kerry comes home with a deal on Iran’s nuclear program, Americans are likely to reject a party that is seen as trying to torpedo that deal, when the alternative is war with Iran.
We do not know exactly what is in the Kerry deal, but what has been revealed thus far is no cause for panic or hysteria.
Though Israel has 200 atomic bombs, Iran has not produced a single ounce of uranium enriched to bomb-grade 90 percent.
Since talks began, Iran has diluted all of its 20-percent enriched uranium and halted production. Tehran is willing to cut her operating centrifuges by a third.
Inspectors and cameras are now in all of Iran’s nuclear facilities. The heavy-water plant at Arak, which would produce plutonium, has been halted. The reprocessing plant that would be needed to extract bomb-grade material has not even been started.
U.S. intelligence agencies in 2007 and 2011 declared, with high confidence, that Iran has no active bomb program.
While Bibi Netanyahu says the Ayatollah tweeted that Israel must be “annihilated,” the same Ayatollah issued a fatwa against Iran ever producing nuclear weapons.
We cannot trust Iran, we are told. Correct. Nor should we, as history has proven. Moscow cheated on Nixon’s SALT I agreement by replacing its light single-warhead SS-11 missiles with heavy SS-19s with multiple warheads.
But as Meir Dagan, ex-head of Mossad points out, if Iran cheats at any of its facilities, we will know it, and it would take a year before Tehran could produce enough highly enriched uranium even to test a bomb.
Plenty of time to gas up the B-2s.
Another question, too rarely raised, is this:
Why would Iran test and build a nuclear bomb, when this would set off a nuclear arms race across the Middle East and put Iran in mortal peril of being smashed by the United States, or by Israel with a preemptive strike?
Right now, Hezbollah dominates Lebanon. Assad is gaining ground in Syria. Iraq, thanks to “W,” is Iran’s ally, not the mortal enemy of Saddam’s day. The Houthi have Sanaa.
The Shiite majority in Bahrain, where the U.S. Fifth Fleet is berthed, will one day dominate that Gulf state. And the Shiites in oil-rich northeast Saudi Arabia will one day rise up against Riyadh.
Why build a bomb, why get into a war with a nuclear-armed superpower, when everything’s going your way?
Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of the new book “The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority.”