Sever Plocker
New Middle East
America's imminent departure from Iraq doesn't seem to concern Israel
New York: The American public's change of heart towards the Bush administration runs deep and is all encompassing, to such an extent that it's unifying the administration's opponents - but only Israel seems to be turning a blind eye and is not weighing possible consequences.


Even a short visit to the US reveals the extent of the revulsion two thirds of the population there feel towards their president, his advisors and their values.


Just a stone's throw away from the congressional elections on November 7th, when Americans will elect a third of the Senate and the entire House of Congress, the political pendulum is swinging strongly against the Republicans.


Traditional strongholds of support are being abandoned, Republican candidates are crossing the lines to avoid being associated with the failing administration, and a heavy scent of defeat is in the air. Only a major event will prevent the Republicans from losing the majority in the two Houses of Congress. A month ago it was a personal guess; today it is an accepted and almost inevitable forecast.


This can be attributed to several things: Mishandling of the Hurricane Katrina tragedy; leading politicians' sex and corruption scandals; the despair of the eroded middle class who are sinking into heavy debt and who fear losing their jobs and are concerned about education; the outrageous hike in medical service fees, and the sense harbored by many that the conservative president's socioeconomic policies are unjust and only cater to the wealthy.


The war in Iraq

But above all these objections - that could gnaw at the Republican majority but are not powerful enough to turn it into a minority - hovers the war in Iraq.


The war has gotten out of hand and is claiming thousands of dead and wounded. It is perceived as a senseless adventure hanging like an albatross around the administration's neck.


The events in Iraq are making the last of the proponents supporting the US presence in Iraq change their stance. It had become clear to them as well that the American presence in the Iraqi killing fields is not protecting Iraqi civilians from the murderous gangs raging throughout. The foreign presence is only accelerating and fueling the terror groups and justifies their terror acts, which are being presented as a "war of liberation."


Three out of every four Americans - including all my colleagues and friends in the US, some from the Left and some from the Right – have had enough of this remote and depressing war. They are sick of the images of terror coming out of Baghdad. They are tiered of keeping track of the names of Iraqi politicians denying their patriotic obligations towards their country.


They are exasperated at the tens of billions of dollars allotted to the "war for democracy in the Middle East," which seems hopeless to begin with: The strongest power in the world is unable to overcome a band of rag-wearing terrorists. They are a people replete with holy Jihad fighters, and it is unclear where they get their funds, explosives and training from.


Average Americans understand that the US Army is not welcome in Iraq, and they are calling for its return. The battle, on its part, is over. It's time to bring the boys home. No more unnecessary deaths of soldiers.


In wake of the mounting opposition from the home front, opposition that runs across ideologies and parties, Bush has started to talk about a "change of tactics" and "reassessing of strategies." This is just the beginning.


A mass departure from Iraq will commence either ahead of the elections or immediately afterwards (according to the results) and is likely to take just a few weeks. No one will be surprised if by year's end only a symbolic number of troops will remain in Iraq, if at all. No on will be surprised and no one will utter a word of objection, particularly in the high military command that is quite openly calling for such a move.


Israel blind to US plans

The only ones likely to be caught off guard will be us, the Israelis. During my visit to the US I was often asked about Israel's stand on American redeployment. Is Israel aware of the harsh implications such a move will have for it? Undoubtedly an American retreat from Baghdad will empower the global Jihad movement, and it will be perceived by millions of Muslims as a defeat over the loathed Americans.


Israel will be weakened in the process, its image marred. Meanwhile, possible Iranian control over parts of Iraq will present military challenges we have never faced before.


How is Israel preparing for this? What course of action would it take if Iraq falls into extremist hands? These are the questions being asked by Israel's friends in face of the dramatic shift in the American mood and the imminent changes in policy. Yet the questions remain rhetorical, suspended in midair.


Our political echelon has more urgent matters to attend to such as "changing the parliamentary system." It cannot see or hear and is not planning for an almost inevitable flight of American troops from Iraq. It is after all, an internal American matter, isn't it?


It is absolutely not, as we shall soon find out.


פרסום ראשון: 10.23.06, 19:52
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