How Eisenhower Tried and Failed to Gain Arab Good Will by Abandoning Israel

In his recent Ike’s Gamble: America’s Rise to Dominance in the Middle East, Michael Doran argues that Dwight D. Eisenhower’s relations with Egypt were based on a faulty assumption that restraining and forcing concessions from Britain, France, and Israel would win over Gamal Abdel Nasser, who would then serve as a secular, modernizing, anti-Communist ally for the U.S. This approach failed disastrously not—as generally held—because America carried it out incompletely but because it was simply wrongheaded. Adam Kirsch writes in his review:

The root of Eisenhower’s mistake, Doran argues, was to see the Arab world as a monolithic entity, with Nasser at its helm. In order to appear as an “honest broker” in the Middle East, Eisenhower distanced the U.S. from its traditional allies in order to accommodate Nasser, which he believed would win America the affection of the Arabs at large. What this failed to account for, Doran believes, is that the Arab world was itself riven by national enmities, power struggles, and ideological disagreements. . . .

Egypt’s rise meant trouble for Saudi Arabia, which since the days of FDR had been America’s most important Arab ally (and oil supplier). And it spelled disaster for Israel, which was later forced to fight much more serious wars against Egypt in 1967 and 1973. Neither the U.S. nor the region reaped any benefits from the Nasserist order that Eisenhower helped to sponsor. . . .

[Ike’s Gamble makes] an implicit but unmistakable argument about America’s Middle East policy today. Any reader . . . who is even a little familiar with the current situation will be able to draw the lines connecting Ike with Obama, and Egypt with Iran. Once again, Doran implies, an American president has fallen prey to the delusion that favoring one particular Muslim state is the same thing as being an honest broker with the Muslim world. And once again, this approach has succeeded only in emboldening America’s enemies and endangering its friends, especially Saudi Arabia and Israel. This makes Ike’s Gamble a timely intervention into current debates. Obama won’t read it, but Hillary Clinton should.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Barack Obama, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Gamal Abdel Nasser, History & Ideas, Middle East, Suez Crisis, US-Israel relations

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy