By Joseph Puder
Last March, soon after his inauguration, president Obama called for “Engagement that is honest and grounded in mutual respect with Iran .” In its attempt to differentiate itself from the previous Bush administration, the Obama administration has premised its Middle East policy and parenthetically fighting terrorism (the Obama people would never conceive of being politically incorrect by calling it Islamic terrorism) on “engagement” with Iran rather than Bush’s alleged confrontational style.
Under normal circumstances “engaging” with an adversary would be a standard feature of western diplomacy, involving elements of compromise vis a vis territory, resources, or some other material element. If the U.S. or Israel were to deal with countries like Belgium , Sweden , Thailand or France , engagement would be welcomed. War or resorting to violence would be inconceivable and confrontation unnecessary.
Even Cold War communist adversaries like the Soviet Union and China , though ideologically motivated, did not believe then nor believe now in the total destruction of their enemy. Furthermore they are not ready to sacrifice their own people in order to achieve the goal of totally annihilating the U.S. In short, neither China nor Russia is motivated by a messianic religious ideology.
Israel , the U.S. and the West are facing a different kind of ideology and for that matter an unfamiliar enemy. The notion of a collective “suicide bomber” as we witnessed in the Iran -Iraq War, which saw the Ayatollah Khomeini handing the “keys to heaven” – paradise with 72 virgins – to Iranian teenagers, who would throw their young bodies against Iraqi tanks, or step into minefields, is still inconceivable to a westerner.
Americans experienced this phenomenon in Beirut in 1983, when Iranian trained and directed Hezbollah suicide bombers attacked the U.S. embassy and the Marine compound with a truck full of TNT and ready-to-die terrorists in order to maximize the number of Americans they could kill. Their tactics resulted in the death of 241 Marines and the wounding of hundreds. And, again in 1996, Iran planned and Hezbollah operatives executed the attack on the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia which killed 19 U.S. servicemen and injured scores of others. Unfortunately, the Obama administration considers Jihadist suicide bombers a criminal justice matter rather than an religious/ideological war against the U.S. and the West.
Israel witnessed the same cruel worship of death when Palestinian Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists used teenagers as expendable cannon fodder to kill a record number of Israeli teenagers in discothèques and pizza parlors.
The brainwashed teenagers whose handlers sent them to die were told that they will die as martyrs or Shaheeds – for Allah’s sake. Cynically, the handlers did not send their own sons and daughters to martyrdom in the name of a cause that is motivated by a genocidal blood lust “to wipe out the Jews,” because Allah wills it…
Egyptian born Islamic scholar, Dr. Tawfik Hamid has pointed out that “In the case of dealing with an enemy who wants to commit a crime or declare a war, it is usually feasible to negotiate with such an enemy as his ambitions are typically focused on tangible things. Negotiations that can result in giving this enemy some satisfaction in achieving some of his worldly desires may be successful in ending the problem. Furthermore, the enemy in these circumstances will be more likely to surrender if he is going to die and will certainly hesitate to use WMD if his opponent is ready to use them against him as well.”
“The Jihadists,” on the other hand, Dr. Hamid adds, “cannot be satisfied by giving them some materialistic gains as their target is subjugating others to their ideology as Aiman Al-Zawaheri stated clearly that Al-Qaeda will stop terrorism if the US converted or surrendered to Islam. Furthermore, Jihadists are unlikely to surrender even if their decision will result in their annihilation or will cause a total destruction for their nation. Additionally, the Jihadists and ideologically motivated Islamists will not hesitate a second if they can use a WMD against their opponent as they evidently do not care for human life including the lives of their own Muslim people. Indeed, they will be happy to die in jihad for the “cause of Allah.”
It is inconceivable that America would negotiate with Al Qaeda, much less “engage” this murderous Jihadist group, so why would the Obama Administration consider “engaging” Iran , a country whose leadership possesses the same uncompromising ideology? The reigning Ayatollahs in Iran recognize their inability to destroy America outright, but they still believe in some sort of Armageddon that would usher in the appearance of the hidden 12th imam – the Shiite messiah. One can hardly compromise with an entity – be it a state or a terrorist organization – that seeks to annihilate you because of your religion and way of life or force you to live under the constraints of Sharia law.
Israel ’s engagement with the Palestinian Liberation Organization and the subsequent signing of the Oslo Accords is another example of asymmetric negotiations. Israel sought a solution to the Palestinians’ statelessness by agreeing to territorial compromise. The Palestinians however are determined to replace the Jewish State with an Arab-Islamic entity.
Since the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993, Israel ’s relationship with the world has not changed for the better. It is shunned, boycotted, condemned at the UN and by EU states and, subjected to constant pressure from the U.S. to make unilateral concessions. At the same time, neither the Palestinian nor much of the Arab world have recognized the Jewish State’s right to exist, despite Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza, and its willingness to accept a Palestinian State.
President Obama’s attempted engagement with Iran has been ridiculed and rejected by the Iranian regime. Obama and the U.S. now appear to be weak and indecisive not only in the eyes of its Arab allies but especially in the minds of the Iranian Mullahs and the Islamic terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah and al Qaeda. Engagement attempts have only served to embolden these deadly Islamist ideologues.