Want a better U.S. military? First make it smaller -- because preparedness now is really about adaptiveness, not readiness
By Richard L. Russell
Best Defense guest columnist
Israel and Saudi Arabia are seething that President Barack Obama reneged on his threat to use military force against Syria after it crossed Obama's "red line" and repeatedly used chemical weapons in the Syrian civil war. For Israelis and Saudis alike, Obama just doesn't get the power politics of the Middle East. If a leader threatens the use of force and doesn't follow-through, he suffers a loss of face and a severe deterioration in his prestige or reputation for power, which is the coin of the realm in Middle East politics.
The Israelis and Saudis judge that the U.S. failure to use military power against Damascus sent the wrong message to Syria's staunch security backers in Tehran. The mullahs now know that if President Obama was not willing to "pull the trigger" on Syria, he does not have any appetite to do it against Iran's nuclear weapons program either. Both Jerusalem and Riyadh see Tehran's aggressive military support to Syria's embattled regime as part and parcel of its determination to maintain its geopolitical land bridge from Tehran through Baghdad and Damascus and into the realm of Arab-Israeli politics in Lebanon. Both Israel and Saudi Arabia fear Iran's support of its Hezbollah proxy in sub rosa war against them. Saudi Arabia especially sees itself as the vanguard of Sunni opposition to Iran's leadership of the Shia Muslim community. The Sunni and Shia are now pitted in sectarian battles throughout the Middle East.