America’s Disingenuous Criticism of Its Middle Eastern Allies

Earlier this month, the State Department declared that it was “profoundly disappointed and troubled” by the United Arab Emirates’ decision to invite the Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad—Iran’s closest ally—for an official visit. Shortly thereafter, when Qatar hosted Iranian military officers at an arms exhibition, the State Department again announced that it was “deeply disappointed and troubled.” Michael Doran argues that such condemnations would be deserved, if Washington weren’t guilty of even worse:

If it had been sincere, then the Biden administration would be deeply or even profoundly disappointed and troubled by its own behavior, starting with its reported willingness to consider removing [Iran’s] Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) from the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations. “We are very concerned about the United States’ intention to give in to Iran’s outrageous demand and remove the IRGC from the list of terrorist organizations,” the Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett said at a recent cabinet meeting.

Bennett had good reason to be outraged, but the willingness to consider de-listing the IRGC is not the main reason why. The Israelis are witnessing a region-wide shift in the balance of power in favor of Iran—a shift of which the Emirati and Qatari embrace of Iran and Syria is part. The cause of the shift is the decision of the Biden administration to return to the Iran nuclear deal. Not only does the deal put an international stamp of approval on Iran’s military nuclear program, but it also channels tens of billions of dollars to Iran’s coffers in the short term, hundreds of billions over the next decade. The IRGC’s power will increase exponentially, and the Assad regime will benefit substantially from its success.

As if to drive the point home, the American military has remained largely supine over the last year as Iran has repeatedly used its proxies or its own forces to subject Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Israel, and Iraq to attacks from drones and ballistic missiles. On at least one occasion, an Iranian-backed group in Iraq conducted a direct attack on American forces—in al-Tanf, Syria. These provocations neither triggered a meaningful American military countermeasure nor prompted the White House to consider breaking off the negotiations in Vienna.

Consequently, the deterrent power of the United States eroded significantly. . . . If the White House truly expects the allies to take a harder line, it must start by taking a harder line itself.

Read more at Struggle for Mastery in the Middle East

More about: Iran, Middle East, Naftali Bennett, U.S. Foreign policy, United Arab Emirates


The Viciousness of the Left’s Turn against Israel

Naturally, neither the Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchez nor his political ally and compatriot Josep Borrell—who was as quick to express his sorrow over the death of the Iranian president as he has been to condemn Israel for war crimes on flimsy evidence—would admit any hostility toward Jews. These two socialists would instead fall back on the rhetoric of progressive internationalism, and their defenders would rush in to complain of the “weaponization of anti-Semitism” to stifle any criticism of Israel. Susie Linfield, a scholar of leftwing anti-Zionism, has some thoughts on this matter:

There is . . . something almost laughable—though also deeply irritating—about the increasingly talmudic debate over whether anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism. [The magazine] n+1 published an open letter signed by many leftist Jewish writers, insisting that the two “anti’s” aren’t the same. But they couldn’t bring themselves even to mention the Hamas attacks by name, instead putting forth a sort of wimpy “all lives matter” line. So let’s stipulate: no, anti-Zionism isn’t always anti-Semitism. You’re not an anti-Semite? Mazel tov! Unfortunately, the political positions of many self-professed anti-Zionists are atrocious nonetheless.

And what’s so weird about all this is that in the aftermath of October 7, it’s become crystal clear that anti-Zionism is often anti-Semitism, and deeply so. The loathing, the resentment, the vilification of Jews is viscerally palpable in so many of the pro-Palestinian demonstrations, articles, statements. The n+1 statement was titled “A Dangerous Conflation.” It seems to me that what’s dangerous is the vicious, unhinged anti-Semitism that is circulating all over the world and all over this country, including in its elite spaces.

This is one of the many striking passages in an interview with Linfield by Robert Boyers for the left-leaning journal Salmagundi. Boyers, although admirably open-minded, comes to the conversation with the assumptions of someone steeped in progressive assumptions about the Israel-Palestinian conflict, for which Linfield has little patience. For instance, to the insistence that the movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction Israel (BDS) isn’t anti-Semitic even if “some BDS supporters envision a total undoing of the Zionist project,” Linfield responds:

What does it mean to “totally undo” a national project—in this case, one that saved millions of Jewish lives? Who the hell is BDS to undo a national project? Are there other national projects on its hit list—France? Bangladesh? China? Why is eliminationism considered a valid “project”—a progressive project!—when it comes to the state of the Jewish people? What will the “total undoing” of Israel look like? We know the answer: it will look like October 7.

Read more at Salmagundi

More about: Anti-Semitism, Anti-Zionism, BDS, Leftism