There are many reasons to be worried about the bridge-leap the Obama administration has just undertaken in its war with Moammar Gadhafi. How it will all end is just one of them.
Particularly concerning is the prospect that what we might call the Gadhafi recedent will be used in the not-to-distant future to justify and threaten the use of U.S. military forces against an American ally: Israel.
Here's how such a seemingly impossible scenario might eventuate:
It begins with the Palestinian Authority seeking a U.N. Security Council resolution that would recognize its unilateral declaration of statehood. Three top female officials in the Obama administration reprise roles they played in the council's recent action on Libya: U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice, a vehement critic of Israel, urges that the United States support (or at least not veto) the Palestinians' gambit.
She is supported by the senior director for multilateral affairs at the National Security Council, Samantha Power, who in the past argued for landing a "mammoth force" of American troops to protect the Palestinians from Israel.
This resolution enjoys the support of the other four veto-wielding Security Council members: Russia, China, Britain and France, as well as the all of the other non-permanent members except India, which joins the United States in abstaining. As a result, it is adopted with overwhelming support from what is known as the "international community."
With a stroke of the U.N.'s collective pen, substantial numbers of Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Israeli citizens find themselves on the wrong side of internationally recognized borders. The Palestinian Authority (PA) insists on its longstanding position: The sovereign territory of Palestine must be rid of all Jews.
The Israeli government refuses to evacuate the oft-condemned "settlements" now on Palestinian land, or to remove the IDF personnel, checkpoints and facilities rightly seen as vital to protecting their inhabitants and, for that matter, the Jewish state itself.
Hamas and Fatah bury the hatchet (temporarily), forging a united front and promising democratic elections in the new Palestine. There, as in Gaza (and probably elsewhere in the wake of the so-called "Arab awakening"), the winner will likely be the Muslim Brotherhood, whose Palestinian franchise is Hamas.
The unified Palestinian proto-government then seeks international help to "liberate" their land. As with the Gadhafi precedent, the first to act is the Arab League. Its members unanimously endorse the use of force to protect the "Palestinian people" and end the occupation of the West Bank by the Israelis.
Turkey (which is still a NATO ally, despite its ever-more-aggressive embrace of Islamism) is joined by Britain and France, two European nations increasingly hostile to Israel, in applauding this initiative in the interest of promoting "peace." They call on the U.N. Security Council to authorize such steps as might be necessary to enforce the Arab League's bidding.
The concerns of Obama's political advisers about alienating Jewish voters on the eve of the 2012 election are trumped by presidential sympathy for the Palestinian right to a homeland.
Accordingly, hard as it may be to believe given the United States' longstanding role as Israel's principal ally and protector, Obama acts. He warns Israel that it must immediately take steps to dismantle its unwanted presence inside the internationally recognized state of Palestine, lest it face the sort of U.S.-enabled "coalition" military measures now underway in Libya. In this case, they would be aimed at neutralizing IDF forces on the West Bank, and beyond, if necessary, in order to fulfill the "will of the international community."
Of course, such steps would not result in the ostensibly desired end-game, namely "two states living side by side in peace and security." If the current attack on Libya entails the distinct possibility of unintended (or at least unforeseen) consequences, application of the Gadhafi precedent to Israel seems certain to produce a very different outcome than the two-state "solution": Under present and foreseeable circumstances, it will unleash a new regional war, with possible worldwide repercussions.
At the moment, it seems unlikely that the first application in Libya of the Gadhafi precedent will have results consistent with U.S. interests. Even if a positive outcome is somehow forthcoming there, should Barack Obama be allowed to realize the foregoing hypothetical scenario, he would surely precipitate a new international conflagration, one fraught with truly horrific repercussions for Israel, for the United States and for freedom-loving people elsewhere.
A Congress that was effectively sidelined by Team Obama in the current crisis had better engage fully, decisively and quickly if it is to head off such a disastrous reprise.
Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. is President of the Center for Security Policy, a columnist for the Washington Times and host of the nationally syndicated program, Secure Freedom Radio, heard in Washington weeknights at 9:00 p.m. on WRC 1260 AM.
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