TAMPA, November 16, 2012 – Dear President Obama,
Push may be coming to shove in Israel. There is only so long that one side can tolerate rockets being fired into its territory and the other can tolerate living under martial law imposed by a foreign power. The whole world hopes for a diplomatic solution, but one side or both may insist upon war.
If it comes to that, then you will face the biggest test of your presidency. Under enormous pressure to do otherwise, the right decision will be to do nothing.
The government you run is bankrupt and the nation is weary of war, especially the pointless kind we’ve waged in the Middle East over the past decade. History will eventually judge both of those wars U.S. defeats. A mighty empire invaded a third world backwater and was eventually expelled by guerilla “freedom fighters” defending their homeland. It’s an old story, but apparently neither voters nor world leaders learn much from history.
For now, the U.S. can declare victory in Afghanistan and withdraw and only good can come of that. What we cannot afford, economically or from a national security standpoint is to go right back into the Middle East, this time with world war a very real possibility.
There is already some speculation that a major offensive by Israel into Gaza may merely be a warm-up for a war with Iran. That may or may not be the Israeli government’s intention, but no rational person can deny that the situation has enormous potential to go there. At that point, it will be more important than ever to adopt the foreign policy that 24 consecutive U.S. presidents said was what made our nation wealthy and powerful: nonintervention.
U.S. citizens have been badgered for a decade with the tired argument that history has taught us not to “appease” a dictator. First Saddam Hussein and now Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have been the latest Hitler. Appease them, we are told, and they will not stop until they take over the world. Of course, no one stops to ask the obvious question: With what?
Let’s talk about Hitler and what we learned from history. Chamberlain’s infamous agreement is rather late in the game to pick up the story. Let’s rewind back to Hitler’s rise to power. It could never have happened without the economic hardship Germans suffered as a result of the Treaty of Versailles. That one-sided treaty would never have been signed had the U.S. not entered WWI and turned a stalemate that all countries wanted a way out of into a decisive Allied victory.
Sound familiar? It should, although there is a major difference here. Any war between Israel and either the Palestinians or Iranians – or even both of them together – would not be a stalemate. It would be a decisive Israeli victory that might lead to a lasting peace, if all of the players understand that they are on their own.
President Woodrow Wilson had run and been elected on his promise to “keep America out of the war.” Then he did everything he could to get America into it. The war gave Wilson an excuse to destroy the free enterprise system (which you have said is “the genius of America”). It gave him an excuse to stifle free speech, lock up dissenters, and destroy the Bill of Rights. Look around at America over the past ten years. This should all sound familiar, too.
However, the biggest cost of Wilson’s decision to intervene was undoubtedly the next war. Had the European powers been forced to end their stalemate with a treaty that didn’t absolutely crush Germany, there would have been no Hitler. There is a good chance that there would have been no WWII.
If the Israeli-Palestinian conflict erupts into a full scale war and somehow that results in war between Israel and Iran, Israel will win it decisively without our help. If the U.S. decides to jump in on Israel’s side, then that will force the hand of Iran’s most powerful ally, China. Think Serbia-Austria circa 1914 and do the math. We can’t afford it, in blood or treasure.
Not only is the potential for world war a distinct possibility, but even if China showed restraint when the U.S. hadn’t, the results of U.S. intervention would be disastrous. If Iran loses to Israel in some semblance of a fair fight, previous U.S. aid to Israel notwithstanding, Iran may be able to surrender with some dignity and accept equitable terms for peace.
On the other hand, if the U.S. jumps in to ensure that Iran is absolutely crushed, “Carthaginian-style,” then defeat will never be accepted. Iran and the rest of the Muslim world would see it as a western superpower intervening to destroy a vastly overmatched minor power and they would be right. Hatred of the U.S. would persist, with the more radical elements looking for opportunities to bleed the giant with terrorist attacks.
Upon taking office during the financial crisis you inherited, you said that you would consider any ideas to solve the problem, regardless of whether put forth by Democrats or Republicans. The only course of action that you said you would not consider was “to do nothing.”
Don’t make that mistake again.
Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.