Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Feinstein's Call to Support Israel Must Be Heeded

I rarely write to commend a Democratic lawmaker, especially if she has remained in office for over two decades, and continues to support questionable policies which do nothing to limit the explosion of government or restrict our country’s overextended military engagements throughout the world.

Dianne Feinstein, from San Francisco Supervisor to mayor to US Senator, has attracted a muted following of conservatives. Not for her domestic policies, including her lock-step support for the Obama agenda of stimulus, insurance mandates, certainly. I voted for Elizabeth Emken in the 2012 election, an autism activist who failed to gain the necessary name recognition to get elected. Despite three articles on Emken’s candidacy in the LA Times, Dianne Feinstein refused to debate her opponent.

Feinstein’s domestic policies are negligible. Her vocal and fervent support for Israel, coupled with a stern requirement for strict records on terrorist activity while neutralizing all pertinent threats to our security, commands respect at home and abroad. I will never forget her collegial candor in endorsing Condoleeza Rice for Secretary of State. Despite the menacing comments of fellow Senator Barbara Boxer, the senior Senator maintained her poise while prospering Ms. Rice’s confirmation.

Recently, Senator Feinstein commandeered support for the Jewish State, demanding that we strength our ties with our Western allies. The one issue that unites many Democrats and all Republicans, the state and status of Israel is paramount for the peace and prosperity of the Middle East.

Switching focus to the nature and the possible outcomes of the Middle Eastern crisis, no one can ignore that the Bush Administration went out of its way to promote comity and commerce with Israel. In this respect, Feinstein was more cooperative than her liberal colleagues. President Bush’s military forays startled Arab leaders in the region, forcing Libyan dictator Moammar Ghaddafi to give up his nuclear weapons programs.  Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak held real elections for the first time, even if they were symbolic gestures instead of substantial reforms. After fifteen years in occupation, the Syrian army left Lebanon. American forces invaded Iraq, with mixed results, and remains in Afghanistan, with diminished outcomes.

A foreign policy of threat and relinquish in the Middle East was best. A system of occupation and nation-building has over-extended our military while emboldening non-nation state actors. “Realist” foreign policy experts, from former President George Herbert Walker Bush and his secretary of state Brent Scowcroft, determined that propping up stable nationalists would sideline radical elements from taking power  then taking over in the region. A cynical assessment to neoconservatives and liberal internationalists, Bush and Scowcroft’s pragmatism has proven well-founded in light of the Arab Spring, which has removed moderate regimes which were friendly to the West. Frustrated masses, impoverished by the housing crisis which as afflicted the global economy, exchanged dictatorial rule for Islamic radicalism, unchecked by populist sentiment which demands hope and change now, yet has no tradition of Jeffersonian Democracy to spring from.

Israel trusted that a secure border with Egypt would remain relatively quiet as long as Mubarak remained in power; recently installed President Mohammed Morsi has openly engaged Hamas, the terrorist group which controls Gaza and is now firing rockets with greater range towards Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Israel now faces a growing existential threat not just from the restive nations along her borders, but also from a nuclear Iran intent on achieving nuclear capability.

Besides the violent assaults on Israel, the terrorist attack on the US Embassy in Libya has decimated the hopes for a transitional peaceful process in the region. Syria remains a teeming battlefield of insurrection and rebellion, with a record 30,000 or more massacred by the waning Assad regime. Senator Feinstein’s call for solidarity with Israel could not be more timely, but her concerns may not only be “too little, too late” but timelessly out of date. How can one sovereign nation negotiate a staggered peace when the opposing nation refuses to recognize the right of the other to exist? The animosity between radical Muslims and Israelis transcends geography and economics, based in a crisis of identity in the Middle East, where innovations in energy production, a rapidly changing global network of trade, and heightened religious turmoil have pressed oppressed tribal elements to attach themselves to radical clerics and wage Islamic jihad.

Pursuing Feinstein’s unequivocal support for Israel is better than trying to remake the rest of the region in a mold similar to Western liberal democracy. The politics of the region resists any rational interventions, as the conflicts are best with tribal rivalries and militant resentments exacerbated by arbitrary borders drawn under European mandate. A strong Israel, one which takes back Gaza and hastens constructing in the West Bank, will enraged centrists and liberals looking for peace at any cost, but after seven years, the spirited hate of radical groups has not abated.

Senate Feinstein and her peers in Congress have every reason to demand a solid policy of support and respect for Israel. One can only hope that President Obama will ingratiate himself more with Israel and less with the weakened diplomatic efforts of his previous administration.

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