11 June 2010

Russia, Turkey & Iran: Cuban Missile Crisis redux?

One of the things we remember best about President Kennedy's brief presidency is his steel-willed response to the Cuban Missile Crisis. It is difficult to believe that the current president - whose primary foreign policy belief expressed during his campaign was that we needed to talk more with our enemies - has the same nerve - or achieve the same results. It appears, though, that we may be poised to find out.

The recent "Gaza flotilla" incident, in which anti-Israel activists, sponsored by terrorist organizations, as well as by NATO member Turkey, clearly demonstrated how far respect for America has fallen, and how clearly President Obama's message that the United States is abandoning Israel has been heard.

Since its founding, Israel has been able to count on the United States as an ally, through both Republican and Democratic administrations. Yet, since entering office, the Obama administration has repeatedly snubbed, lectured and scolded Israel, while coddling Iran's dictatorship, and holding out olive branches to terrorist states.

In doing so, he has not increased respect for, or dialog with, the United States. To the contrary, Obama's overtures have been met with sneering disdain by Iranian "president" Ahmadinijad.

Now we come to learn two separate, but related things which portend a crisis in the Mediterranean that will challenge the United States in much the same way as the Soviet attempt to stage missiles in Cuba did 48 years ago. Following Israel's thwarting of the recent attempt to run the Gaza blockade, Iran has publicly offered to escort the next flotilla. Understanding full well that this has nothing to do with humanitarian aid to Gaza, Ahmadinijad has declared that "Israel is doomed." Perhaps most ominously, the leaders of Iran, Turkey and Russia held a summit in Istanbul on June 8th, signaling a shift in alliances, and perhaps much larger consequences to the next challenge of Israel's blockade.

Turkey, in sponsoring the first flotilla, tested the boundaries, and found that the United States was willing to let her ally Israel twist in the wind of ugly world opinion. The next challenge to Israel's blockade will not be a test of Israel at all, but of the United States.

President Kennedy responded to the Soviet challenge with a blockade of Cuba. Will President Obama join Israel's lawful blockade, or allow a major power shift in the Middle East? The fate of more than Israel hangs on the answer to this question.

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