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“Diminishing Margins for Global Error”

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The weekly column from Clark Judge:

Diminishing Margins for Global Error
By Clark S. Judge, managing director, White House Writers Group, Inc. ( <> ) and chairman, Pacific Research Institute ( <> )

Yesterday’s Israeli-Turkish convoy incident is a warning of what the world will look like if the United States recedes as a global power.

We have all read the headlines by now. Sometime on Sunday, Israeli commandos boarded a flotilla of vessels that had sailed from Turkey on a supposedly humanitarian mission to the Gaza Strip. A battle followed. Deaths ensued.[# More #]

Most observers agree that the organizers of the Turkish mission intended to provoke Israel. The Weekly Standard reported yesterday afternoon (see: that the “Peace Flotilla’s” backers belong to a Saudi-funded umbrella charity called Union for Good. Far from charitable, Union for Good is a front for terror financing. It has paid suicide bombers to undertake attacks. It maintains ties to the Hamas. It has supported al Qaeda operations in Indonesia and the Philippines. It played what French sources termed an “important role” in a 1999 plot to bomb Los Angeles International Airport, LAX.

With a record like that you can be sure there was little that was peaceful in the launching of this flotilla. It is a fair bet that the organizers anticipated that Israel would send a boarding party and planned a resistance that would produce international headline grabbing casualties. But why did the Turkey-based provocateurs believe they could succeed with such a ploy? And why did the Israelis – who understand the global propaganda game as well as anyone – feel compelled to take the bait?

It doesn’t require a leap of imagination to see that Israel is feeling less and less sure of the good will, support, and judgment of its most critical global ally, the United States. The disastrous performance of high American officials during Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s last visit to Washington was bound to heighten Israeli anxieties, leaving a congenitally jittery government with the conviction that its always slim margin for national security error had nearly disappeared.

We tend to view events involving Israel as sui generis, unrelated to developments elsewhere in the world. But the ability of governments to depend on the sure application of American power is a global phenomenon. Erosion of confidence in both the ability of American forces and the judgment of those directing them will have global consequences.

Council on Foreign Relations fellow Max Boot wrote in yesterday’s Los Angeles Times ( of the dependence, even the eagerness, of the South Korean military to subordinate itself to American security guarantees and American command. The Korean’s know that it is ultimately the American presence in the Western Pacific that protects their vibrant nation from the thug regime to their north and, not incidentally, from an ambitious China.

The simple fact is that whether you have national security responsibilities in Israel or South Korea or any of a number of other global flash points, your margin for error diminishes if America’s confidence and decisiveness diminish. So, as with the Israelis, when challenged, you are bound to feel that you must respond more sharply than you would otherwise. This need of secondary global players to take bigger actions is the ultimate cost of an administration that behaves perversely towards friends and rivals and that apologizes for our nation’s international role and its historic fruits at every opportunity.

I suppose this diminishing of the America government’s strength of purpose could come at a worse time. I just cannot think what that time would be. Last week I attended discussions among a number of financial leaders, men and women with a deep grasp of the ebbs and flows in the international economy. The universal consensus was that one of the major emblems of global economic stability, the Euro, is close to being – if it is not already — a failed currency. Some doubted the European monetary unit could survive the year in its current form. There was, of course, underlying concern that failure of the Euro would prove act two (or is it three or four?) in the global financial drama that began with the American sub-prime fiasco.

You don’t need to be a genius in international economics – I certainly am not – to anticipate that collapse of the European monetary regime would lead nations in unsteady parts of the globe (for example Poland, the Ukraine, and Georgia) to feel their margin for error had just diminished further.

When the United States behaves with confidence and strength, the global cocktail party cognoscenti may respond with sneers and sniffs. But men and women with real security responsibilities relax just a tad. Yesterday’s incident was a warning. If the administration continues on its current global course, that kind of relaxation will be off the agenda of global security players for some time to come.



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