Free Markets, Free People

Obama and Israel

I’ve been watching the news since last week when stories appeared in the press talking about President Obama “imposing” a solution on Israel and Palestine. My first reaction was, “really, how would that work”? Short of invading and occupying Israel (and the Palestinian lands), how does one “impose” a solution? I mean think about it – what’s his leverage? Aid? I think Arab states would take care of making up any aid to the Palestinians, and I don’t think threatening to cut off aid to Israel would do anything but make Israelis even more intransigent:

A huge majority of Israelis would oppose an attempt by US President Barack Obama to impose a final-status agreement with the Palestinians, a poll sponsored by the Independent Media Review and Analysis (IMRA) organization found this week. Leading American newspapers reported last week that Obama was considering trying to impose a settlement if efforts to begin indirect proximity talks between Israel and the Palestinians proved unsuccessful. The option was discussed in a meeting with current and former advisers to the White House. Asked whether they would support Obama imposing a plan dividing Jerusalem and removing the Jordan Valley from Israeli control, 91 percent of Israelis who expressed an opinion said no and 9% said yes, according to the poll of 503 Israelis, which was taken by Ma’agar Mohot on Sunday and Monday and had a 4.5% margin of error.

So how, in a practical sense, would this “imposition” of a solution be achieved? And, without long simmering problems being resolved, would it actually bring peace to the region?The excuse given by the administration, or so says the NY Times, is to be found in a phrase Obama used in a recent speech:

Mr. Obama said conflicts like the one in the Middle East ended up “costing us significantly in terms of both blood and treasure” — drawing an explicit link between the Israeli-Palestinian strife and the safety of American soldiers as they battle Islamic extremism and terrorism in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. Mr. Obama’s words reverberated through diplomatic circles in large part because they echoed those of Gen. David H. Petraeus, the military commander overseeing America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In recent Congressional testimony, the general said that the lack of progress in the Middle East created a hostile environment for the United States. He has denied reports that he was suggesting that soldiers were being put in harm’s way by American support for Israel.

But the impasse in negotiations “does create an environment,” he said Tuesday in a speech in Washington. “It does contribute, if you will, to the overall environment within which we operate.”
But that “overall environment”, at least where Israel is concerned, has existed there since its founding in 1948. It’s not like it is a new environment that is suddenly effecting our soldiers fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. And, an imposed solution, even if Obama could somehow make it stick, isn’t going to solve that problem. Americans were attacked in Saudi Arabia simply for being infidels, not because of Israel. And our removal of them from that land hasn’t changed that perception one whit. So this is pretty thin water to be trying to float a justification for imposing a solution to this long festering problem. Israel is never going to put itself in a position that makes it vulnerable to Arab attack and anyone, given their history since 1948, should understand and appreciate that point.Any solution is going to be complex and require intensive negotiations that satisfy both sides. Elliot Abrams, fisking a David Ignatius column, gives just a tiny indication of the level of complexity this oversimplified and naive talk of “imposition” glosses over:

First, if indeed everyone has known the terms for nearly 20 years (since Oslo) yet agreement has never been reached, is it not obvious that neither Israelis nor Palestinians are willing and able to accept those terms? Does their embrace by an ambitious American president make them any more palatable to the people who will have to live with them? Second, the conclusion that all the terms are known is quite wrong. Is the fate of Jerusalem’s Old City agreed? Do Palestinians accept that Israel will keep every major settlement bloc? Do Israelis and Palestinians agree on the terms needed to guarantee Israel’s security once the IDF must leave the West Bank? (Examples: Is it agreed that Israel will control the air space and electromagnetic spectrum? Is it agreed that Israel can keep troops in the West Bank for some years? Do Palestinians accept that Israel can control the Jordan Valley and patrol the border with Jordan?) This is nonsense. One of Ignatius’s sources says the Obama plan will “take on the absolute requirements of Israeli security.” After 14 months of harassment by Obama and his team, will any Israeli risk his nation’s safety on that assurance?

Given where the relationship is now, and it isn’t good, how would you answer Abrams last question if you were an Israeli? See poll cited above. The trust factor between Israel and the Obama administration is at a dangerously low point. Israel is well aware that the US is its most powerful benefactor and has been its most loyal supporter. But it is also a pragmatic state that understands that in the final analysis its survival is its own responsibility and its alone. Israel is not going to agree to anything that puts its existence in mortal danger just to please an American president – and certainly not this one.

Meanwhile reports are circulating that Syria is arming Hezbollah in Lebanon with SCUD missiles. The reports first surfaced in the Arab media in November. 300 SCUDS were being transferred to Hezbollah – a terrorist faction whose primary mission is the destruction of Israel- and Hezbollah crews were being trained to deploy and fire them. Israel just confirmed the reports. To this point it is believed the missiles haven’t yet been moved out of Syria. But does anyone have any illusions whatsoever that there’s a purpose behind such a transfer except to attack Israel?

Peace, in this case, is a multi-sided process. Not only must the Palestinians and Israelis come to an agreement that both are happy with, but the Arab states in the area must also buy into the process and support any agreement fully. When you have states which still refuse to acknowledge the right of Israel to exist and do what Syria is attempting with the SCUDS, it’s hard to imagine how an “imposed settlement” on Israel and the Palestinians would have any beneficial effect at all or, more importantly, change the “environment in which we operate” in the least.

~McQ

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32 Responses to Obama and Israel

  • I don’t understand why we bother with this charade.  Most of the groups and nations involved in the Mideast do not want to reach any sort of agreement or accommodation with Israel.  They want Israel gone. Didn’t Arafat say as much, numerous times?  Haven’t any number of Arab leaders repeated the sentiment?  Why do we go through the trouble of twisting arms and setting up summits and drafting agreements that we know won’t be accepted, because they do not include the removal of Israel from the map?

    • Tonus, the faux peace process has some benifits. It allows us to act as an objective middle man who is interested in the best interests of both sides. It gives cover to moderate Arab leaders and even to hostile Arab leaders to follow a process other than outright war with Israel. It gives the likes of Al Fatah some justification to supress outright violence against Israel.

      Think of it like a little dog, barking and acting bad ass and pulling on its leash, “trying” to get to a big dog. The leash is a great excuse. The little dog is glad for the leash. The peace process is kinda like the little dog’s leash.

      • And the Palestinian people repeatedly demonstrate their desire for a peaceful co-existence with Israel by electing to make HAMAS, which has insisted on the destruction of the Jewish state, the majority party in their government.
         
        And unfortunately someone has given the ‘little dog’ rockets so regardless of how long his leash is, he can still get at the big dogs (and then act surprised and outraged when the big dog slips it’s own leash and chews his rocket lighting leg off).  Round 200 of little dog uses rockets coming up, countdown, I’m guessing, 3 to 4 months, coupled with an “Iranian announcement” to the world.

        • Yeah, it doesn’t tend to work with Hamas or Hezbollah. But I think it is a factor for most state actors, including Al Fatah to some degree.

          Everyone with a clue knows the ME peace process is nonsense if you take the objectives literally, but I think the real objectives are much more modest.

  • I’m not sure where the word “impose” comes from.   What the US likely will do is propose a peace framework which attempts to create a situation where all sides see it in their interest to support the US plan, or use it as a framework for negotiation.  This gives carrots (e.g., for Israel real help against Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas, and economic  and security support) and sticks (for Israel the US cutting some support could do serious damage to their economy and perception of security).   The idea is to not rely on the parties to negotiate since their interests are so diverse.    To get Israel to give ground on a Palestinian state might require security guarantees and even action against Iran.  That’s something only the US can provide, not the PA or Hamas.
    The key is to make benefits to all side significant enough that they are willing to make concessions on other fronts.    It won’t be easy, but Israel recognizes that their security and even existence is more in threat than it was when they were confronted with a group of Arab states with territory they could lose.   The Obama Administration should show leadership on this, and the person to pull this off is not George Mitchell, but Hillary Clinton.

    • What are the carrots and sticks for the Arab states and palis pray tell?

      • Ah, you noticed that, too. The answer is obvious; the only obstacle to peace is Israeli obstinancy.

        • That’s been the left’s view for ever.

          If only Israel would lay down and die, all problems would go away, right Erb?

          • No, you are wrong about that.   Israel is under more threat with terrorism (potentially nuclear) and demographics.   The only solution is a viable Palestine alongside a secure Israel.  One can not be pro-Israel and anti-Palestianian or vice-versa, their destinies are linked.   It’s the extremists on both sides that block the process, and threaten the continued state of Israel.

      • Iran is clearly a concern of the Arab states, and of course the idea of a Palestinian state and settling the dispute could be a big carrot.   Sticks would be to cut support, give more aid and military support to Israel, and further isolation.  Obviously, oil rich Arab states are less able to be pushed that way than poorer states like Syria.   But really, Syria is key here.

    • I’m not sure where the word “impose” comes from. What the US likely will do is propose a peace framework which attempts to create a situation where all sides see it in their interest to support the US plan, or use it as a framework for negotiation. And I continue to be so disappointed that you dense righties don’t understand that under the holy writ of post-modernism, “framework” and “negotiation” are magical incantations that can cure any foreign policy problem, as long as certain rituals are performed by the wise leftists involved. I explain that in detail in my book, which is certainly not published by a vanity press specializing in suckering social science academics, and I really wish you guys would stop thinking that.

      This gives carrots (e.g., for Israel real help against Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas, and economic and security support) and sticks (for Israel the US cutting some support could do serious damage to their economy and perception of security). Notice here that all the sticks are against Israel, because the noble brown savage Palestinians need to be coddled and protected, and certainly not threatened with sticks. Post-modern holy writ requires it. In any conflict with a party named a noble brown savage by we wise leftists, the other side must automatically be at fault when things go wrong, and of course here that means everything is the fault of the Israelis. So any punishment to be handed out must naturally go against them. Sure, the Palestinians blow people up and fire rockets and stuff, but they’re just wogs who can’t be held responsible for their actions. The Israelis are throroughly western, and thus are totally responsible for pretty much everything bad that happens over there, no matter which side does it. Get it? Jeez, I get so tired of explaining post-modern foreign affairs to you guys. You should take my online class, so you’ll understand these things. Even though you’re inbred and sterile in your ideas and think like Nazis, as I’ve explained before, I’m such a powerful, brilliant teacher, I can draw you out of this ignorant, right-leaning, anti-post-modern mental state you’ve gotten into, and make you a wise, humanistic, well-intentioned leftist like me.

      And, like me, you can even pretend to be a wise moderate by constantly blathering about how both sides should sit down and work things out, though we know from post-modern holy writ that only one side should make all the concessions, and of course in this case that’s the Israelis. My class could help you reach such an enlightened and holy state. Well, except for the ex-military basket cases who are permanently scarred by their experience, as I’ve explained many times over the years, especially back during Iraq, the worst foreign policy disaster in our history and maybe anybody’s history.

      The idea is to not rely on the parties to negotiate since their interests are so diverse. No, the magic of negotiation must be invoked by wise leftists, and that’s us, and whatever threats we have to make against the Israelis to get them to take the negotiations seriously are completely justified. To get Israel to give ground on a Palestinian state might require security guarantees and even action against Iran. That’s something only the US can provide, not the PA or Hamas. And the Israelis should totally listen to any guarantees that Obama makes, and simply assume that he and all future presidents would follow through. It’s so obvious that this is a good idea! And don’t start up with Obama’s supposedly broken campaign promises about not raising taxes and no healthcare mandate. He has kept all those promises, simply by applying post-modern redefinitions and multiple truths, and he would so the same thing with the Israelis. Keep all his promises, I mean.

      The key is to make benefits to all side significant enough that they are willing to make concessions on other fronts. And I don’t even have to talk about what benefits we offer to the Palestinians that might make them change, because they’re just wogs who don’t even really know what’s best for them except they know hating the West is a good thing. So we’ll figure something out there. Or just let the Palestinians keep blowing things up and lean harder on the Israelis. It won’t be easy, but Israel recognizes that their security and even existence is more in threat than it was when they were confronted with a group of Arab states with territory they could lose. Because of Iran, of course, and you do naturally realize that when I said we might said do something about Iran for the Israelis, I just mean symbolic stuff? Of course, that’s obvious. The Obama Administration should show leadership on this, and the person to pull this off is not George Mitchell, but Hillary Clinton. She’s another one of those Democratic leftist women who show us exactly what women in politics ought to be like. And serve as a counterpoint to that vulgar Sarah Palin, with her full lips and ample bosom, winking at us through those naughty librarian glasses. Every time she does that, I just want to throw up, and I have to stare at a group shot of Nancy Pelosi and Hillary for a while to recover.

  • Mr. Obama said conflicts like the one in the Middle East ended up “costing us significantly in terms of both blood and treasure”…

    I’m sure that both the Israelis and the Arabs are sooo glad to know that Imeme’s sole concern is their security and future.

    / sarc

    This has the smell of Munich about it.  Just as Chamerlain and Deladier were willing to bargain away Czechoslovakia to save their own countries’ skins, so Imeme seems intent on imposing some sort of “peace” on the Middle East to (allegedly) save American skin.  Now, I’m all in favor of doing things to keep America and Americans safer, but I’m not very confident that ANY peace deal is going to do that.  The United States has become The Great Satan to many nutjobs in the Muslim world; America is a cartoon enemy, a propoganda construct, a Goldstein, that they can use to whip up their followers.  Even totally throwing Israel under the bus isn’t going to change that.

    [I]f indeed everyone has known the terms for nearly 20 years (since Oslo) yet agreement has never been reached, is it not obvious that neither Israelis nor Palestinians are willing and able to accept those terms? Does their embrace by an ambitious American president make them any more palatable to the people who will have to live with them?

    Is it not obvious that Imeme doesn’t care one whit about the people who will have to live (or, more likely, die) with any “peace deal” that he brokers?  Is it not obvious that this man is a malignant narcissist, interested only in his own self-aggrandizement?  What does he care if Israel is dismembered, or if there is eventually a bloody war when the Israelis are finally pushed to the wall, so long as he gets his name in the papers and (perhaps) another Peace Prize?  Maybe he can reprise the role of Chamberlain, get off Air Force One, wave a bit of paper in his hand, declare that he’s gotten “peace in our time”, preen for the cameras… and then act shocked when it all falls apart.

    I’ve heard that the Israelis have a saying: if the Arabs lay down their arms, there will be peace.  If the Israelis lay down their arms, there will be genocide.  They’ve got a point.  Unlike the dimwits who think that a “peace deal” can be reached and will be respected just because WE want it badly enough, the Israelis have learned from bloody history: appeasement only makes the aggressor more aggressive.

    • Be interesting to see if the peace loving Palestinians have accepted Syrian long range missiles as the Israeli’s have alleged.  A sure sign that ‘peace’ about to break out in Gaza.

      • Here’s the easiest way to peace:  Give the Israelis all the arms and support they need to wipe the Palis off the face of the earth.

        Presto, no more conflict.

        • While this would end the war (sort of like the Punic Wars were ended when Rome wiped Carthage off the face of the earth), genocide is a little… um… bad.  Very bad.  Unacceptable-type bad.  I don’t have any particular love for the Palestinians (this has NOTHING to do with a certain Palestinian aerodynamics professor, the prick), but the quarrel is with their bloodthirsty leadership and terrorist groups who use Israel as a whipping boy to keep themselves in power and money (how rich was Arafat when he died?).

          At any rate, I don’t think it has to come to anything like wiping out anybody.  If we make it clear that Israel is our ally; that we will provide them with whatever arms and other assistance they need to defend themselves; that we guarantee their security; that an attack on Israel will result in US intervention on their behalf, including commitment of ground troops; and that we will engage in a little “regime change” of the nation(s) that attack Israel or assist others in doing so, then there will be peace.  The other part of the guarantee is that we will not support Israel if SHE attacks somebody else absent a clear provocation (i.e. a case of preemptive war).

          •  the prick), but the quarrel is with their bloodthirsty leadership and terrorist groups who use Israel as a whipping boy to keep themselves in power and money (how rich was Arafat when he died?).

            >>> We’ll disagree, because I think the rank and file is little better.

        • Ah, a holocaust!   Genocide!  Mass extremination.  You want the Israelis to emulate the Nazis!  I don’t think you realize how insulting your post is to Israelis.  They don’t want to be like the Nazis, even if you might yearn for a death camp.   They know most Palestinians want peace.  They know the problem is Hamas and extremist leadership.   But hey, glad you’re honest about your desire for another holocaust!

          • One crucial difference – the Jews weren’t at war with the Nazis when they were rounded up.
            Come back when you get yourself some knowledge boy

        • Nah, Shark, you know that never ends it.  Didn’t end it in the Bible and won’t end it now.   The Israeli’s would never actually do it anyway.  I wish I could feel that confident about the reaction of the Palestinians/Syrians if the rolls were reversed.

    • Actually, given your over the top rhetoric, I think you’re describing yourself in your insults of Obama, especially with weird allusions to Munich.   The differences are so vast that it is literally idiotic to make such a comparison.   It’s also clear to everyone that any deal the US brokers will have to be agreed to by others, out of their self-interest.  The US might use some carrot and stick on all states to alter their calculation of interests, but the idea that somehow this will harm Israel is absurd.  It might harm the delusional desire of some extremists to drive the Arabs out of the occupied territories or prevent a Palestinian state.   But the President’s basic goal and vision is not that much different that of President Bush.   Your over the top case of ODS (when the left went into such hissy fits about Bush you all were quick to mock them — now you don’t even seem to realize you’ve become what you used to mock) causes you to see this all in a very weird, biased out of touch with reality light.  

      • Erb, once in a while you make a good point and this is one of those times:

        “It’s also clear to everyone that any deal the US brokers will have to be agreed to by others, out of their self-interest.”

        With that i would completely agree but then you have to go and throw the point away with your ODS bullshit.  It is so interesting to see you try and make points in this blog but virtually anything of note you say goes to naught because of your own arrogance.  Especially when you continue with the following:

        “Your over the top case of ODS (when the left went into such hissy fits about Bush you all were quick to mock them — now you don’t even seem to realize you’ve become what you used to mock) causes you to see this all in a very weird, biased out of touch with reality light.”

        I hope you aren’t trying to earn a living by teaching others how to win friends and influence enemies ’cause you SUCK AT IT!

        • What’s funny is that the kind of behavior you say is bad from me, is done by so many of you to me all the time.   I mean, my rhetoric is very mildly sarcastic compared to many of you.   And the over the top rhetoric about Obama is really a lot like the rhetoric from the far left against Bush.   You notice very acutely any arrogance or insults from me, but yet it’s OK for you all to insult me.   I think that if you dish it out, you also have to be able to take it.  That’s why I’ll ignore insults of me if I find a good substantive point.   Insults are a dime a dozen, a good substantive point is valuable.

  • Right now, the Israel-Palestinian dilemma is a distant second to dealing with Iran.

    If it came down to war or Iranian nukes, I think that the Israelis should take out the nuclear facilities, with the long option of decapitating the regime, which would mean going after a whole bunch of people, Ahmadinejiad included, along with some of the mullahs and the leadership of the Revolutionary Guard. For that, there has to be a government in exile or a relatively secular faction in Iran that can take charge of the government. I don’t know whether such a coherent group exists.

    It would be a mess, but I think that goal one is destroy the nukes. Goal two is the option to take out the regime leadership.

    Other than the chaos inside Iran, who gives you a problem with that?

    The Russians. And only because they are looking for excuses.

    The Arab states are going to be relieved. Turkey? Relieved to indifferent. The Russians themselves will be relieved.

    And of course everyone will condemn Israel. Especially the Europeans.

    But the Iranian nukes and the Iranian regime will be gone. (I have an immense appreciation for the Iranian people; it might even be irrational.)

    As for the Palestinians, those people can have peace anytime they want it. They know what they have to do. They followed the KGB piper away from reality 40-50 years ago, and so they have left themselves with the choice between being nuts and being nuts. They can’t be trusted, they know that they can’t be trusted, they demand trust. You can’t make a sane deal with people like that. They need to come in and lay their bullshit on the table and say, “We don’t want it anymore. We recognize Israel’s right to exist. We do not want a right to return to Israel proper. We renounce and reject violence. Your West Bank settlements are fine. Help us get out of this mess we are locked in.”

    The Israelis and the Americans would help them. But they have been caught all these decades in the East-West Cold War vapor lock, where they were put by Yasser Arafat and the KGB, and they can’t shake it off. And now they are starting to meld, or continuing to meld, with the radical Islamism movement. And, as usual, the losers on the Euro and American Left are their best friends, now cheerleading thinly camouflaged antisemitism.

  • Does anyone think Hillary is the one laying down this Israeli policy? I don’t.
    This smacks of undergraduate leftist cant…Israel is the sole cause of all the problems. Israel is dependent on US aid and would wither away without it. Israel is our poodle and does whatever we say.
    All of these are of course untrue, even since 1948, and even more so today.
    This will end badly for the White House as the Israelis have the option of ignoring Obama, and the Palestinians will figure they can now ask for MORE concessions. How many deals have they turned down already?
     

    • Well, for one thing, it wouldn’t make any difference if Hillary was making policy, because she sees not a millimeter below the surface of the situation. She made her bones as Bill’s ideology officer during that eight-year mess (which was rescued only because Bill, having no interest in either the country or ideology, at least knew when his ass was in the fire and followed public opinion polls where they took him, which was out of his own, and Hillary’s, wilderness).

      The only advantage Hillary would bring to the situation would be that she’d drive the policy van off the cliff in slow motion.

  • I believe you are right, Harun.  To say the world is more unstable with the unsettling situation regarding Israel is one thing – to take it to the next level claiming Israels’ intransigence in the Peace Process is “costing us significantly in terms of both blood and treasure” is more like something right out of Huffington Post than informed foreign policy analysis.

    In another way to look at it this is a sophomoric attempt to gain a foreign policy coup that has evaded US Presidents since Carter.  Obama needs a foreign policy win.  Any kind of a win would be nice but one in this area of the world would be huge.  He has tried outreach to the Muslim world and, like trying to feed an alligator with your fingers, he has lost a few digits in the process.  He has no weight in the Muslim world, they mock him more than Hannity on any given Friday Night.  So he has to throw his weight where it might be felt – Israel.

    The US is currently, at Obama’s direction, essentially conducting a boycott of all military hardware to Israel.  This has not been done on the down low – it has not been shouted from the rooftops but there has been no attempt to hide the fact either.  Additionally, Obama’s openly disrespectful actions toward Netanyahu and the Israeli government has been a very visible distancing of the US from Israel that has not gone un-noticed in the Muslim world. 

    It is not surprising that Syria is arming Hezbulla with Scuds.

    It is not surprising that Hamas is calling for a “Day of Rage.”

    It is not surprising that there have been calls for the immediate irradication of Israel by so-called religious leaders in the Muslim world during the recent “Jerusalem Day” initiated by Iran.

    It is not surprising that current threats for a Third Intifada over the so-called “Zionist efforts to Judaize Jerusalem.”

    And in the middle of all of this flurry of activity, Obama openly distances the US from Israel.  And this is somehow supposed to bring Peace to the region.  Mark my words, this will lead only to more War!  And soon!

    • Yes. Obama is a fool who thinks his words will lead to peace in the middle east. Instead, he’s gonna cause war.

    • To understand Obama, you start with the positions of ANSWER and the International Action Center and then watch how he tries to make those presentable for general consumption. He’s putting flesh to the foreign policy wet dreams of the nutjob Left. And Israel has long been one of their favorite targets.

      If you have an account with Netflix, put the film “The Baader-Meinhof Complex” on your queue. That’s about the terrorist “gang” of that name also known as the Red Army Faction, which operated in the then West Germany from late 60s to late 70s. It’s in no way a complete picture, but does a good job as an archeology of the nutjob Left of today and the association with the Palestinians.

      From that same era: The “black liberation theology” of James Cone that formed the basis of the teaching at Obama’s church. It, the film, will also add understanding to a tremulous chatty cathy stooge like Erb.

      • Black liberation theology…you know any DC churches where I can hear that sort of thing?

        • I don’t. But there are always the Rev. Wright YouTubes for a sample. That’s where he’s coming from.

          Or go to the horse’s mouth and check out “Black Theology and Black Power” by James Cone from the library. (Well, I have access to a university library; it probably won’t be found in the regular public library.)

          You won’t be able to gag down the whole thing, but skimming it carefully will tell you what you need to know.

    • I think the whole “Biden outraged” thing was planned, too. Way too convenient.
      Hey, I will say this, we will see if their theories are right. I could be wrong.
      Its a bad sign that Baby Assad took the opening and then ran over us.