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Posted at 2:15 PM ET, 12/30/2010

Foreign policy predictions

By Jennifer Rubin

Few would argue that in 2010 the world became less dangerous and unpredictable. U.S. military operations in Iraq ended successfully, but North Korea has grown steadily aggressive (while China stands idly by), Iran's nuclear program hasn't been halted (maybe delayed, thanks to a computer virus), Pakistan is increasingly problematic, and the Middle East "peace process" has collapsed. What's ahead in 2011?

Cliff May, president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies tells me:

I can't predict what will happen in 2011. I can predict what won't happen: No end to the war being waged against the West by both Shia and Sunni jihadists; no separate peace for Israel no matter how much President Obama and/or Israelis want it; no dynamic economic recovery in any nation that does not encourage entrepreneurism; no reform at the chronically corrupt and ironically named United Nations; no cure for the common cold.

Continuing with the "don't get your hopes up" world view, Daniel Gordis, senior vice president of the Shalem Center, offers this:

Bibi Netanyahu will weather all the storms and will be in office throughout the year.

U.S.-Israel relations, at a pretty much all time low, will not improve much.

Gild Shalit, tragically, will not be released, though we should each have a Matzah on our table every Shabbat as a symbolic reminder of his affliction.

Israel-Turkey relations will not warm in any significant way.

Israel will not attack Iran in 2011 (though I wish I were wrong), though more Iranian experts will die mysteriously and other snags will hit their system.

The U.S. will also not attack Iran, and sanctions will not be significantly toughened. The West will continue to demonstrate its moral failure and will abdicate responsibility to protect the freedoms we would not want to live without but are too cowardly to actually fight to defend.

On a more optimistic note, incoming House Foreign Affairs Chair Ileana Ros-Lehtinen says: "We say it every New Year's Eve: Next year in Havana! One day, it WILL be true!"

What we know for certain is that, although Obama surely does not wish to be a wartime president (nor to expend time and resources on foreign policy), he -- like all presidents -- cannot evade the demands that the world makes upon the world's only superpower. As Obama's harebrained schemes (e.g. Iranian engagement, Syrian engagement, obsession with Israeli settlements) collapse, we can only hope that he will adopt a more sober world view and adopt the best of his predecessor's approach (determination to prevail in the war on Islamic jihadists, warm relations with traditional allies, dedication to democracy promotion and defense of human rights.

By Jennifer Rubin  | December 30, 2010; 2:15 PM ET
Categories:  Israel, foreign policy  
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Comments

The USA has to learn to keep its nose out of the business of other nations.

Iran is no concern of the USA. It is a nation on the other side of the planet, it has no diplomatic relations with the USA, its nuclear energy program is quite legal under an international treaty and there is no evidence that Iran is trying to build nuclear weapons.

In other words, the USA ought to butt out and stop trying to control sovereign nations on the other side of the world. Nobody appointed the Americans to be the world's sheriff and nobody wants them to do it.

As for Pakistan, well if the Americans had not illegally made war on Afghanistan, when Saudis and Yemenis caused 9/11, they would not still be fighting there after a decade and losing badly. Same goes for Iraq.

North Korea is not the business of the USA either. If the Americans would simply just look after what is going on within the borders of the USA and butt out of trying to run the world, the Americans wouldn't be the target of attacks.

Posted by: ziggyzap | December 30, 2010 2:28 AM | Report abuse

Cliff May summed it up well. I see a continued gradual erosion of our position in the world. No one is afraid of the US under Obama -- except for our allies. The most dangerous countries will continue to defy and test us -- Iran, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela. China is biding its time but sees its medium-term strategic interests as inimical to ours. Pakistan and Turkey are treacherous and hostile. It's a dangerous world, but America's attention is turned inward.

Posted by: eoniii | December 30, 2010 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Is the world supposed to be afraid of us?

Posted by: Amminadab | December 30, 2010 3:05 PM | Report abuse

"From this arises the question whether it is better to be loved rather than feared, or feared rather than loved. It might perhaps be answered that we should wish to be both: but since love and fear can hardly exist together, if we must choose between them, it is far safer to be feared than loved." -- Machiavelli

We certainly want the rogue states and terrorists to fear us. We have a necessary role to play in a dangerous world where weakness is always provocative.

Posted by: eoniii | December 30, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Many of us in the international community are concerned not that the Obama administration will do something wrong, we are concerned that they have no clear idea as to what to do at all.
Obama seems unable to project any leadership whatsoever, in any area of his governance. His entire administration seems entirely reactive to events and very weakly at that.

Posted by: Beniyyar | December 30, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

eonii and beeniyar:

My belated holiday wish to you is that we increase our military by a million people to fight all the enemies you see everywhwere!

I don't suppose either of you would be willing to actually sign up to do any of the fighting yourselves would you?

How about you Jennifer, or your children if they're old enough, any soldiers in that group?

Posted by: 54465446 | December 30, 2010 4:08 PM | Report abuse

This columnist tips the balance and ends my interest in reading the Washington Post. There are much more intelligent options available such as the Financial Times. Rubin is a closed minded war monger and would have been unacceptable to the old Washington Post. Obviously the hope is to attract the right wing to your paper and it certainly works for FOX. The old quote comes to mind, "Have you no shame?"

Posted by: jj1123 | December 30, 2010 4:37 PM | Report abuse

"[....]obsession with Israeli settlements"?

Attention to a key barrier to discussions and fair and just outcomes is a necessity to all but those in pursuit of the Eretz Israel agenda.

Does you call for the "defense of human rights" extend to addressing the following inequalities in the state of Israel:

"48 of the 61 poorest towns in Israel are Arab towns.

Although Arab Israelis represent nearly 20% of the population, local Arab authorities have jurisdiction over only 3% of the land, leading to overcrowding and poverty.

The 160,000 Negev Bedouin live in extreme poverty. Half live in 36 “unrecognized” villages and nine recently recognized villages lack basic services such as water, sewage, electricity, and health clinics.

Arab schools receive half the budget, per capita, of Jewish schools. Arab students have the highest dropout rates and lowest achievement levels in the country.”

Source: New Israel Fund

Posted by: thatscottishwoman | December 30, 2010 4:54 PM | Report abuse

don't suppose either of you would be willing to actually sign up to do any of the fighting yourselves would you?
How about you Jennifer, or your children if they're old enough, any soldiers in that group?
Posted by: 54465446

Chickenhawkism is an essential component of Rubinism.

Posted by: rcaruth | December 30, 2010 5:11 PM | Report abuse

54465446, the point is not to fight rogue states that define us as their enemy. It is to deter their agression. Strength and resolve will deter all but the madman. Weakness and fecklessness (Obama's foreign policy) only provoke the tyrant.

Posted by: eoniii | December 30, 2010 5:35 PM | Report abuse

Israel will not attack Iran in 2011 (though I wish I were wrong), though more Iranian experts will die mysteriously and other snags will hit their system.

===========================================

If that would delay and set back the ambitions of the Mullas than fine with me. I would rather have more mysterious car bombs than an attack that would unleash Hamas and Hezbullah goons to wreck havoc all over the world.

Posted by: bbface21 | December 30, 2010 6:07 PM | Report abuse

Israel will not attack Iran in 2011 (though I wish I were wrong), though more Iranian experts will die mysteriously and other snags will hit their system.

===========================================

If that would delay and set back the ambitions of the Mullas than fine with me. I would rather have more mysterious car bombs than an attack that would unleash Hamas and Hezbullah goons to wreck havoc all over the world.

Posted by: bbface21
---------
I agree. It looks like Israel might have things under control with no help from us. The makers of the Stuxnet computer virus that has apparently crippled Iran's nuclear program deserve the Nobel Peace Prize. They're even more worthy than such illustrious former winners as Barack Obama, the IPCC, the IAEA and Mohamed Baradei (irony alert), Jimmy Carter, the entire UN, and the inventor of modern terrorism, Yasser Arafat.

Posted by: eoniii | December 30, 2010 6:40 PM | Report abuse

eonii:

Never pull out your gun unless you're prepared to use it. This is the big leagues. They know when you're bluffing.

Posted by: 54465446 | December 30, 2010 7:43 PM | Report abuse

"As Obama's harebrained schemes (e.g. Iranian engagement, Syrian engagement, obsession with Israeli settlements) collapse, we can only hope that he will adopt a more sober world view and adopt the best of his predecessor's approach (determination to prevail in the war on Islamic jihadists"

Ummmm Jennifer, . . . .actually Bush both engaged the Iranians and had far more pre war mutual asssistance from them than you would ever acknowledge. The Iraqi National Council, largely forgotten now, was actually an Iranian cover front to assist the US in making the decision to go to war against Iraq. They were the one who provided much of the bogus info about WMD's, contrary to the stance of the CIA.

But you will never report about it because it upsets your preconceived view of the world!

Posted by: 54465446 | December 30, 2010 8:08 PM | Report abuse

My prediction for 2011 is that Sudan may completely re-arrange many current obsessions. If the South Sudan secession referendum on January 9 does win and South Sudan seeks recognition as a new nation, what will indicted war criminal and president of Sudan, Bashir, do? What will China do? Is it possible for South Sudan to work with Ethiopia to develop the infrastructure to transport their oil to Asian markets?
Or, will a new civil war spread to a wider African war between Arabic speaking Islamists and African Christians and animists?

At the very least, my prediction is that South Sudan will rightly push the Palestinian's Quixote-quest for nationhood off the front pages of western media.

The United Nations has to prove it matters in Ivory Coast, then Sudan. If the UN fails, maybe even Durban 3 will redefine what really constitutes racism because of Africa.

2011 might just be a year where Israel is no longer news...except for when Obama openly acknowledges the unbreakable U.S.-Israel alliance in cyber-warfare.

Posted by: K2K2 | December 30, 2010 8:20 PM | Report abuse

K2K2:

Your post is actually very interesting but we both know that nobody in this country cares enough about sub Meditteranean Africa to do anything about it.

Posted by: 54465446 | December 30, 2010 8:31 PM | Report abuse

Bottom line is that the world is a safer, more prosperous place when an adequately armed U.S. is realistic and about its interests and values and pursues those in sober and vigorous yet prudent fashion. This will not happen under our current dear leader.

A million additional people in the military is obviously superfluous but yes, an increase in manpower in the range of 5% to 10% complemented by the very necessary weapons procurement and recapitalization (all at a cost - over a 10 year period of substantially less than the money stolen by Barry and the Dems from productive citizens and future generations to give to their public sector union patrons/proteges and corporate cronies - which would also have constituted a more effective "stimulus" ) is required.

Posted by: cavalier4 | December 30, 2010 10:11 PM | Report abuse

To cavalier4:

Congress takes more than enough money to "adequately arm" America, and maintain a fight in Afghanistan. We have no need or business to maintain bases in Germany or Japan, after 60 years. We may well be in Afghanistan for 60 years to keep Islamic fundamentalists from overrunning Central Asia (i.e., if you think fossil fuel is expensive now, just see what would happen if someone like bin Laden controls Turkmenistan or Kazakhstan). The problem is not that we spend too little but that so much is wasted on things we don't actually need. Our troops could actually operate more effectively on camels and on horseback in Central Asia; that's what our enemy does and they're doing quite well. WE don't actually need a lot of expensive equipment to do the job, in most cases. I commend Gates for having killed the F-22, although I think he erred in killing the C-17 which is the only transport aircraft we have which can take-off and land on short unimproved runways. But the Air Force couldn't keep doing all their Star Wars crap while keeping the C-17, I guess.

Posted by: armyofone | December 30, 2010 11:43 PM | Report abuse

army wrote:

"We may well be in Afghanistan for 60 years to keep Islamic fundamentalists from overrunning Central Asia (i.e., if you think fossil fuel is expensive now, just see what would happen if someone like bin Laden controls Turkmenistan or Kazakhstan)"

Someone like Bin Laden already does. These are both Muslim dictatorships, friendly to Iran. Do you need the flowing robes? BTW we don't import fossil fuel from either place.

Posted by: 54465446 | December 31, 2010 12:32 AM | Report abuse

There are other foreign policy concerns besides the Middle East and other foreign countries besides Israel, although you would never know it here. The really bad part is that many at The Post do not regard Israel as a foreign country.

Posted by: kstack | December 31, 2010 6:28 AM | Report abuse

"If that would delay and set back the ambitions of the Mullas than fine with me. I would rather have more mysterious car bombs than an attack that would unleash Hamas and Hezbullah goons to wreck havoc all over the world."

How would you feel about mysterious car bombs in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem?

And FYI. Hamas has never operatoed outside of Palesine and Hezbullah has NEVER operated outside of Lebanon.

"I agree. It looks like Israel might have things under control with no help from us. The makers of the Stuxnet computer virus that has apparently crippled Iran's nuclear program deserve the Nobel Peace Prize."

Stuxnet is more a marketing success than a practical one. The fact that is has been discovered means it is no longer a useful option. Stuxnet is malware that was able to expliot the inherent security weaknesses of the Windows OS, and thus, can easily be overcome by moving to more robust envronments like Linux, which would be trivial to implement.

The other stupid thing about Stuxnet is that it was used to try and cripple systems that were of no threat, so Israel played it's hand unecessarily and blew it. Iran has not beenworking on any nuclear weapons but simply a nuclear energy cycle.

The Stuxnet attack served to justify the Iranian policy of installing multiple enrishment facilities throughout the country so as to ensure redundancy in case any of them is disabledthrough military, terrorist or viral attacks.

Iran's Bushr reactor continues to operate and the erichment plants are still enriching. So what has Stuxnet achieved?

Posted by: AndreDeAngelis | December 31, 2010 8:16 AM | Report abuse

"Bibi Netanyahu will weather all the storms and will be in office throughout the year."

Ifhe does, he will be incresingly weakened as Lieberman continues to asset his authority and political clout.

"U.S.-Israel relations, at a pretty much all time low, will not improve much."

Israel relations with the rest of the world in general will hit an all time low - with the possible exception of Canada.

"Gild Shalit, tragically, will not be released, though we should each have a Matzah on our table every Shabbat as a symbolic reminder of his affliction."

Never mind the 1000 palestinian Shalit's that Israel continues to hol in their prisons without charge. As for Shalit, he's far more useful to the Israeli government right where he is.

Israel-Turkey relations will not warm in any significant way.

Israel will not attack Iran in 2011 (though I wish I were wrong), though more Iranian experts will die mysteriously and other snags will hit their system.

Isrel will not atatck Iran because
- there is no nuclear weapons program, and hence no targets.
- Isrel can't pull it off without the US

"The U.S. will also not attack Iran, and sanctions will not be significantly toughened."

The sactions are going to fail because they are based on a violation of the NPT, which looks like it will also collapse given the West's demonstration that signing the NPT is pointless.

The U.S. will not attack Iran for the same reasons Israel won't and because it doesn't have the means to do it.

"The West will continue to demonstrate its moral failure and will abdicate responsibility to protect the freedoms we would not want to live without but are too cowardly to actually fight to defend."

The West's moral failure's are being amply demomstrated by their domestic laws and oppression of their own populations. How can the US possibly succeed in protecting freedoms internationally, when it can't even protect them at home?

Posted by: AndreDeAngelis | December 31, 2010 8:28 AM | Report abuse

54465446: actually, South Sudan is getting very good news coverage this past week, just not on the front pages, yet. China is already bidding on a proposed pipeline from South Sudan through Kenya. Obama's team has been very focussed and busy, as has the UN. Whether all these efforts can pre-empt a new civil war remains to be seen, but there is a high level of awareness and planning for the three million people expected to be displaced by secession. Sudan is where ImperialistIntolerantIslam may find it's Waterloo in 2011.

FWIW, Hezbullah has established cells where Brazil meets Paraguay and Argentina. Must be the more than ten million Brazilians of Lebanese descent (another four million from the Syrian diaspora) in need of whatever Hezbullah supplies.

Posted by: K2K2 | December 31, 2010 10:11 AM | Report abuse

"FWIW, Hezbullah has established cells where Brazil meets Paraguay and Argentina. Must be the more than ten million Brazilians of Lebanese descent (another four million from the Syrian diaspora) in need of whatever Hezbullah supplies."

That's pure right wing garbage.

The reason they call them cells is because they haven't found any, so the argument is made that we know the exist because we haven't found them yet.

Posted by: AndreDeAngelis | December 31, 2010 4:15 PM | Report abuse

@armyofone

The DOD is almost certainly the most efficient bureaucracy in the federal government and especially so for one of its size. Having said that a bureaucracy of that size will have colossal inefficiencies. If we work seriously to control the budget we can try to eliminate many of these and make the DOD even more efficient. Still, an agency of that size will retain huge amounts of waste but in light of the fact that if performs one of the few required (indeed, permitted) functions of the government we will have to live with it.

Nevertheless those efficiencies that can be found could fund much of the badly needed weapons systems and a larger, better compensated military for a price not greatly in excess of the current budget as a % of GDP. And, yes, some of the cuts can come from cutting certain weapons system. However, our Navy is shrinking at an appalling rate and in particular a world not secured (to a meaningful) extent by the U.S. Navy is a more dangerous and less prosperous one and the general loss of economic growth that would result almost certainly exceeds by a very large number the the funding of an adequate Navy.

With respect to a weapons system like the F-22 there are certainly clear eyed, realistic people very concerned with defending the U.S. (Obama most emphatically excluded - Gates also to the extent that he is serving his political masters and must fight the fights he can win) on different sides of the debate and there are certainly specific questions about the specific merits of the system. Generally speaking I am persuaded that a meaningfully larger number of heavy twin engined bombers will greatly reduce unit cost and wear and tear and over time will generate a great deal more bang for the buck. As a general matter a sufficiency of of a weapons system reduces the prospect of its eventual and very costly (in $ and lives) use much less likely

Posted by: cavalier4 | December 31, 2010 7:07 PM | Report abuse

"we can only hope that he will adopt a more sober world view..."

I am also hoping to humiliate Kobe Bryant on the basketball court. Hoping for the impossible can be fun.

Posted by: DavidThomson | January 4, 2011 10:24 AM | Report abuse

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