President Obama’s appeasement of Shiite Iran emboldened their efforts to develop nuclear weapons while the perception of him being a weak leader has created a power vacuum in the region and touched off a nuclear arms race in a part of the world whose inhabitants boldly proclaim their intention to destroy America.
The discovery of oil in the Mideast took that region from an afterthought in World War I to a coveted prize in World War II as a source of energy to fuel the hungry war machine. The postwar period saw the region’s influence increase as the world turned its attention back towards the business of satisfying consumer demand and its attendant energy demands. America boomed in the 1950s as returned soldiers started families and acquired the accoutrements of a middle class lifestyle while Europe was busy rebuilding from the war with the help of the Marshall Plan.
America took little notice or interest in the Mideast with its exotic culture and its difficult language as its prosperity grew from supplying the West with the oil it craved to fuel its prosperity. As the discovery of new Mideast oil fields came on line to increase their output, the search for new American oil fields gradually waned in favor of the cheap Mideast supply. After all, they were more than willing to sell us their oil and we were more than willing to buy it at a price cheaper than we could produce our own, so it appeared to be a satisfying symbiotic relationship.
We were rudely surprised by just how powerful the Mideast had become and just how much they resented us in the West in 1973 when the Oil Producing and Exporting Countries (OPEC) cartel flexed its muscle by restricting member nation oil supplies to America to increase the price of their oil. As we in the West had become comfortable buying their cheap oil and neglecting domestic production, OPEC realized they literally had us over a barrel and wasted no time exploiting the upper hand they had gained through our lazy inattention to the region. Americans who hadn’t given a thought to the Mideast and barely had a clue about the region suddenly had a new enemy to contend with the Evil Empire of the Soviet Union which was all too eager to exploit this new geopolitical reality as another facet of its Cold War with the West.
After suffering through gas lines made necessary by President Nixon’s Wage and Price Controls through which the government set prices on goods in opposition to natural market forces which would have allowed prices to adjust as part of the supply and demand curves, American hatred of the Mideast and its OPEC cartel solidified with little prospect of any desire to understand the region possible. The OPEC oil embargo wreaked havoc on the American economy which quickly spiraled into the Stagflation of the 1970s with its combination of stagnant wages and inflationary prices. Politicians and government economists were clueless as to dealing with this situation, and their every move from the Keynesian playbook, the only economic playbook most of them had ever known, only exacerbated a rapidly deteriorating downward economic spiral.
As the Mideast became more politically astute after watching America struggle through the 1973 oil embargo, it took advantage of the Cold War political situation to play America and the Soviet Union against each other as it dangled regional affiliation in front of each to secure favorable arms sales and foreign aid packages. Each side was able to coax regional countries into its sphere of influence as the more hard line Shiite nations under Iranian control gradually sided with the Soviet Union while the more moderate Sunni nations sided with America. This process was hastened with the Iranian Revolution which saw the American-backed Shah deposed by fundamentalist students supporting exiled Ayatollah Khomeini and his theocratic government which quickly aligned with the Soviet Union.
Aided by their Cold War sponsors, the Sunni and Shiite divide became ever more pronounced as Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein launched a war with neighboring Shiite Iran now under the control of Ayatollah Khomeini. This savage war hardened the historical enmity between the Sunni and Shia branches of Islam and led to further regional destabilization as its protagonists sought more aid to recover and rebuild. Saddam launched the First Gulf War against neighboring Kuwait to loot the wealthy kingdom as part of its search for funding sources.
From the time of the first Arab oil embargo in 1973 up until 2008, American presidents have always sided strongly with the Sunni countries led by Saudi Arabia, and always fiercely protected its ally Israel by making it clear to both Sunnis and Shiites that America would not tolerate direct attacks on its ally. America has always operated from a position of strength and followed through on its word as evidenced by its assembly of the international coalition which rescued Kuwait from the clutches of Saddam Hussein in the First Gulf War and restored the kingdom to its deposed rulers. America’s leadership of the international coalition which decisively won the First Gulf War against a woefully unprepared Iraq cemented its regional influence and signaled its ability to back up its word with military might. America wasn’t loved by many in the Mideast who continued shouting Death to America, but it was respected by the area’s leaders.
This perception was reaffirmed by President Bush’s declaration of the War on Terror in response to the 9/11 attacks in which he came after any country seen as a regional threat to America by supporting terrorists. Mideast dictators seeing the resolve in President Bush to punish those responsible for the 9/11 attacks quickly lined up behind his War on Terror. Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi quickly abandoned his fledgling nuclear program and turned all the materials over to the United Nations so as not to risk the wrath of the sleeping giant suddenly awakened and filled with vengeance. As other Mideast rulers pulled back to assess America’s intentions in the wake of 9/11, Saddam Hussein continued on as if nothing had changed with 9/11 and the regional political situation was just as it existed in the wake of the First Gulf War where America had restored Kuwait but stopped short of invading Iraq, preferring to declare victory and return home rather than get sucked into a prolonged conflict. Saddam paid the price for his inability to recognize that everything had changed with 9/11 as he was deposed by the Second Gulf War fought to reestablish American hegemony in the Mideast and ultimately executed.
President Obama came to power in 2009 vowing to change America’s image in the Mideast. His supporters assumed Obama’s intention was to change the regional perception of America from one of fear and hatred toward understanding and respect. Instead, President Obama launched what came to be derisively known as the Muslim Apology Tour in which he visited Mideast countries to apologize for past American actions in the region. As a culture which values strength as a national virtue, Obama’s Apology Tour left the region’s inhabitants with the distinct impression that America was much weaker than she appeared. Further muddying the waters was President Obama’s apparent antagonism towards Israel as an obstacle to the peace process so craved by American leaders as a crowning diplomatic achievement.
President Obama, advised by Iranian born Valerie Jarrett, pivoted American support in the Mideast away from the Sunnis towards the Shiites. The first indication of this pivot was President Obama’s refusal to publicly support the Iranian Green Revolution that had sprouted up in the hope that his rhetoric meant he would support revolution against the Iran’s theocratic dictatorship. The Iranian government brutally suppressed the Green Revolution after taking the hint from President Obama that he would not intervene. President Obama was fulfilling his pledge to make America loved in the region by pointedly supporting the Iranian dictatorship over the people resisting its oppression.
As it became apparent President Obama would refuse to intervene in Mideast unless it aligned with his narrow interest of supporting Shiite political ambitions, various Shiite groups organized to oppose Sunni governments aligned with America resulting in the Arab Spring revolutions which saw several governments toppled. This culminated in the deposal of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in favor of Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi. Morsi quickly granted himself unlimited powers in his quest to become Egypt’s next dictator and sought to impose strict Sharia law in opposition to the desires of Egyptians who had elected him on the belief that he would put an end to the dictatorship of Mubarak. Morsi was quickly deposed by a military coup instigated to protect Egypt from his dictatorial ambitions along with a crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood designed to prevent it from ever being a political power in the future.
Against this backdrop, the Iranian government launched its drive to acquire nuclear weapons under the auspices of establishing a peaceful nuclear energy program. Iran had long argued it required nuclear energy to offset its lack of refineries which left it at the mercy of market price swings for energy. Emboldened by President Obama’s refusal to support the Green Revolution, his stated intention of pivoting American Mideast policy away from the Sunnis, and his antagonistic attitude toward Israel, the Iranians launched their drive to acquire nuclear centrifuges and other equipment to enrich uranium under the excuse that this was purely for a domestic nuclear energy program. It soon became evident that this was a lie given the inordinate number of centrifuges acquired and their location in secret bunkers impervious to air attack.
Warned by an increasingly agitated Israel fearful that an Iranian nuclear weapon would seriously undermine its security especially in light of Iran’s support of terrorist front groups such as Hezbollah which had tormented Israel for years from its bases in Lebanon, President Obama dithered away while the Iranians pursued nuclear expertise. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has led a lonely quest to warn the world of Iranian nuclear ambitions and become a thorn in President Obama’s side as a result. This culminated in Netanyahu’s speech before Congress which was boycotted by prominent Congressional Democrats in support of President Obama who pointedly ignored it. In retaliation, President Obama dispatched his political campaign team to aid Netanyahu’s opposition in direct violation of American and Israeli laws against foreign influence in elections, but was handed a humiliating and stinging defeat as Netanyahu cruised to a decisive victory.
It has become clear to everyone in the Mideast that President Obama tacitly supports the Iranian acquisition of nuclear weapons. President Obama has dithered intentionally through international talks which drag on while giving the Iranians the time they need to enrich enough uranium to construct several nuclear weapons. Israel is no longer able to conduct a proactive counter-proliferation strike against Iranian nuclear facilities located underground akin to its Operation Opera airstrike on Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor back in 1981. President Obama took the unprecedented step of warning the Israelis that America would shoot down any Israeli warplanes crossing Iraqi airspace as part of any counter-proliferation strike against the Iranians, and recently declassified for release information gathered on Israel’s secret nuclear weapons capabilities confirming that Israel does in fact possess nuclear weapons and shattering its plausible deniability claims to the contrary. These are the actions of a petty and vindictive person unfit to be the leader of the most powerful country in the world.
In light of the clear intentions of President Obama to allow Shia Iran to acquire nuclear weapons while thwarting Israel’s ability to conduct counter-proliferation airstrikes against Iranian nuclear facilities, Sunni Saudi Arabia let it be known this week in a thinly veiled announcement that they would acquire their own nuclear weapons to counter the Iranian nuclear threat. President Obama has created such a power vacuum in the Mideast that Saudi warplanes are conducting strikes on Yemen to prevent the Shiite backed insurgency from gaining control of their neighbor to further destabilize the region. The Saudis launched their Yemen campaign without even bothering to notify President Obama as they no longer consider him relevant to the region.
A nuclear Iran threatens both Israel and Saudi Arabia, and it is in their best interests to mutually depose the Iranian threat. Israel already possesses nuclear weapons, and now the Saudis will acquire their own nuclear stockpile to counter Iranian nuclear hegemony. President Obama has so thoroughly destabilized the Mideast in direct opposition to those American presidents who worked towards regional stability that he has created the unthinkable: a nuclear arms race in the absolute worst part of the world among countries with no business whatsoever of possessing such weapons of mass destruction given their support of terrorist groups dedicated to the destruction of their enemies.
President Obama has worked toward the destabilization of America both domestically and abroad. In this, he has largely succeeded be destroying the American economy through the application of failed Keynesian policies and the destabilizing influx of illegal immigrants. In the foreign policy arena, he has antagonized our allies to no end while cozying up to our enemies and left everyone searching for new alliances to counter his lack of leadership. The Mideast nuclear arms race is already underway, and it is doubtful that time enough is left for a new president to undo the damage President Obama has done. The next president will be left dealing with a nuclear Mideast no longer concerned with an American government whose last leader, in concert with his Iranian advisor, abandoned them to their fate because it suited his inner agitating community organizer.
Thanks to President Obama, we now have a new nuclear threat to fear much like our Cold War adversary who sought our destruction, but with the additional aspect that this new threat cares nothing about its own destruction. The Soviet Union opposed us on political grounds while the Islamic threat opposes us with a religious fervidity unparalleled in the political world. A nuclear armed Mideast is an order of magnitude more frightening than the old nuclear armed Soviet Union during the Cold War. Those of us who remember those dark days of the Cold War are most certainly frightened of this new threat.