17 December 2017   Leave a comment

It is very difficult to predict how wars might unfold.  Prior to the US-Iraq War in 2003, Americans were told that the cost of the war would be between $50 and $60 billion and President George W. Bush declared that “major combat operations” were over after 41 days.  The war is still going in in some form and the US has spent well over $3 trillion on the effort and more than 4,500 American soldiers dies and perhaps as many as 500,000 Iraqis.  When the war began, about 70% of the American population polled favored the war.  There is a sense of deja vu in the current discussions about a possible war with North Korea.    It seems as if most Americans believe that Defeating North Korea would be a relatively simple process with little risk to Americans.  Other observers believe that the costs would be quite high.  Moreover, it seems clear that some countries, such as China, now believe that a US-North Korean War is imminent.  We should be demanding a more accurate and reasonable assessment of what the war would entail before we sleepwalk into another catastrophe.


Despite rhetoric condemning the US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, there was little effective opposition to the decision on the part of the oil-producing Arab states.  The lack suggests that those states, led primarily by Saudi Arabia, are willing to sacrifice the Palestinian demand for a separate state with East Jerusalem as its capital in order to secure US and Israeli support for a larger strategic effort to confront growing Iranian influence in the region.  Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates decided to push the Palestinians to accept the city of Abu Dis as an acceptable alternative capital to East Jerusalem–a proposal that was first broached by the US at the 2000 Camp David Summit and is apparently the bargaining position of Jared Kushner, the Trump Administration’s Middle East peace negotiator.  As such, the decision is a real gamble.  A few days ago, The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) met in Istanbul and King Abdullah of Jordan and Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of the Palestinian Authority, decided to attend despite Saudi Arabia’s suggestion that they boycott the meeting.  The OIC passed a resolution that declared that “East Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Palestine and invite all countries to recognize the State of Palestine and East Jerusalem as its occupied capital”.  Moreover, the UN Security Council is slated to vote on a resolution (introduced by Egypt) to reject the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.  That resolution has no possibility of passing given the US veto, but it will be interesting to see how American allies vote on it.

The fact that Abbas, Abdullah, and Egypt are not cooperating with Saudi Arabia and the UAE suggests that the opposition to the US decision is stronger than the two states anticipated.  Now they will wait to see if US President Trump follows through with his stated intention to de-certify the Iran’s adherence to the nuclear agreement, a decision that needs to be made in January.  After Ambassador Haley’s press conference at the UN on Iranian missiles, it seems as if Mr. Trump will de-certify.  But we also know that there are constituencies in the US that wish the agreement to continue.

Posted December 17, 2017 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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