New Middle East war on the horizon, says veteran journalist, foreign policy adviser

By Peter Duveen

PETER'S NEW YORK, Monday, June 1, 2009--In a revealing and informative interview, journalist and foreign policy expert Arnaud de Borchgrave said today there is no relief in sight for what ails the Israelis and the Palestinians, and that a war involving the two parties was all but inevitable. He also said Iran was close to obtaining a nuclear weapon, but that military action against that country by the United States or Israel was not a realistic option.

"I think we're a long, long way from a Palestinian state," de Borchgrave, Director of the Transnational Threats Project for the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C,  told viewers of the cable news network C-SPAN. De Borchgrave, who is also editor-at-large for the Washington Times and wire service United Press International, said a new war would break out in the Middle East "when people understand that there isn't going to be a Palestinian state." The United States, he said, would not force Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories because of the close relationship between the two countries. "Israel is tantamount to the 51st state," he said.

Arnoud de Borchgrave
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Peter Duveen Photo
De Borchgrave: military intervention in Iran would be "madness."

He said that an Israeli attack on Iran would not set that country's nuclear program back for more than two or three years, and that Iran had "formidable asymmetrical retaliatory capabilities," including a natural alliance with a Shiite Moslem population strategically distributed throughout the region. Iran, he noted, also controls the Strait of Hormuz, through which a major portion of Middle East oil must pass to get to market.

"To intervene (militarily) in Iran I think would be madness," he said.

During almost an hour of air time on early morning television, De Borchgrave was peppered with questions from C-SPAN's viewers on a broad array of topics, from the Iraq war to Osama Bin Laden.

The Iraq War, De Borchgrave noted, was in the planning stages as early as 1996, when a "white paper" penned by former defense department officials Richard Perle and Douglas Feith called for the United States to "try to establish democracies around Israel," a move that the authors maintained would secure peace for that country for a quarter of a century. "That was the overall idea," De Borchgrave said. Part of the plan, he said, was for Israel to keep its settlements in the West Bank.

The decision to invade Iraq, de Borchgrave said, had already been made a year before the first shots were fired across Baghdad. The war was a "huge distraction from the real problems of the world," he said, adding that then-Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was "a threat to his own people only" and certainly not to the United States.

De Borchgrave said Iran is close to developing nuclear capability, adding that it would be naive to think otherwise, as that nation has had the know-how to produce a nuclear weapon for many years. "They've been at it for a quarter of a century." he said. Israel, he said, has been a nuclear power since 1960 or 1961. He said that, in light of a country as young as Pakistan having obtained nuclear arms, Iran was not likely to understand why it should not have them as well.

He noted that Iran was a great power, a great civilization, and had legitimate worries about its security. It is "incumbent upon talk about their concerns and our concerns," he said. De Borchgrave said there was no military solution to the problems of either North Korea or Iran.

On other matters, when asked if Osama Bin Laden, the titular head of Al Qaeda, is alive, he said, "Oh yes, I have no doubt that he is."

Another listener cited a scientific paper demonstrating the presence of a high-tech explosive he called "advanced thermitic material" in the dust from the collapses of the World Trade Center towers on September 11, 2001. The listener asked de Borchgrave what the implications for foreign policy would be if it were determined that the buildings were brought down by explosives rather than by the airliners that collided with them on 9-11. De Borchgrave indicated he was not familiar with the report. "I take your word for it for the time being and will check on it later," he said.