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Iran / Israel: George Bush Snr's 1991 doctrine needed

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Prisoners of Geography (Tim Marshall) is a well known, oft-quoted book on geopolitics.  It’s really an A-level text – first-year university stuff at best.  I don’t have a copy to hand.  But the weekend’s news from the middle east brings one of Marshall’s often quite blunt assessments to mind, which from memory runs roughly thus: 

A lot of people in middle eastern nations harbour vicious and irreconcilable hatreds against each other.  It’s a typical mistake made by western folks, not to believe middle easterners when they say they hate someone, and what they intend to do about it.

OK, so we believe it: this whole matter is filled with irreconcilable hatreds, and people hell-bent on killing their neighbours.  And that these hatreds can spill out all over the place, not least the www.  So let’s try to keep this thread strategic.

1) Looks like Netanyahu, in furtherance of his political / personal goals, has played Biden ruthlessly, successfully – and transparently.  Plenty of commentators saw a canny, US-suckering escalation coming.  Forewarned isn’t always forearmed.  Still, Biden should have been able to do better than this for the furtherance of his own goals – not least of which is retaining independence of agency.  That said …

2)  “Can the USA be relied upon any more to protect its friends then, eh?“  And indeed, can coordinated onslaughts of massed, mix-&-match missiles be defended against – by anyone?  Russia thought it had proven the answers were “no”, and “no”.  Well, there’s a bit more to ponder now, on the part of the many people in the RoW who have been wondering about that.  Including …      

3)  Taiwan and, errr, China.   Ah yes, China.  We read that, once again, the Chinese are “very interested” in what’s going on in the middle east.  But, once again, just as in the case of their some-time client Libya, China’s role seems to be that of a rather academically interested spectator.  When are they going to become that global great power they keep billing themselves as?  And it’s back to the drawing board for that invasion of his own Xi keeps toying with.  (“One Iron Dome system, please, for the oriental gentleman to the north of the Philippines.”) 

So, back to Netanyahu.  In 1991, Saddam Hussein launched a wave of Scuds on Israel (and Saudi).  George Bush Snr told Israel to stay its hand – which was just as well, because the pointy end of the  Israeli airforce had taken off just before the first missile landed (we could detect Scuds at launch even in those days) and was in a holding pattern, just waiting for the order to nuke Baghdad etc.  (You might like to refer back to my 30th anniversary account of this episode.) 

We all need “Ironclad” Biden** to dust off his history and make that call, firmly and credibly.  Is he up to it?  



**Wasn’t that subtle of him, eh?  See, he does have some advisers with their heads screwed on.  They just seem to go missing at vital moments.


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