BigMo’s Blog

Politics and Economics in Israel

A Turning Point?

Rehovot, Israel
25 March 2010

We have reached a turning point, perhaps even a parting of the ways. We do not need to mince words in a vain attempt to curry favor, be politically correct or excuse our actions. We need to act deliberately and decisively to secure our homeland, the land that our forefathers built, our birthright.
America has been our ally for over forty years. Now, she is spiritually, morally and economically fatigued. America is also unreliable.

There are many root causes of this spiritual, moral and economic decay – too many to explicate in detail. Of course, as America’s ally, it is our duty to point out that our once-great friend has fallen on hard times. Of course, it is our duty to try and help as best we can. However, one does not buy an alcoholic a drink on the promise that he will stop drinking tomorrow. One does not buy a junkie a fix on the promise that he will stop abusing drugs tomorrow.

The years after World War II were supposed to be the “American Century.” This “century” only lasted thirty years, America’s empire crumbling with the defeat in Vietnam. President Ronald Reagan tried – and to a large measure succeeded – to restore America’s legacy as the leader of the Free World and Western Civilization. However, his victory was squandered in the excesses of the presidency of Bill Clinton. Interestingly enough, it is the former president’s wife who now helps chart the course for another president bent on squandering America’s influence and power.

President George W. Bush awoke reaped the whorl-wind of American blindness and excess on September 11, 2001. He spent seven years rebuilding the walls, repelling the barbarians and re-establishing America’s military predominance. However, this was not enough. Americans grew weary of the struggle and longed for the go-go years of Bill Clinton when everything – everything – was for sale.

Barack Obama was elected on a campaign of hope and change. Hope for a better future and the willingness to make the changes to secure that future. However, if the last year has proven anything, it is that this hope does not extend to Israel and that any change is only for the worse. America’s interests are self-serving and demand too many sacrifices of others.

Israel must sacrifice defensible borders to an enemy that daily pronounces its intent to destroy her. Israel must ignore provocations and the preparations of her enemies. Israel must surrender her capital, our Holy City of Jerusalem, to the same enemy that barred us from our Holy Sites for centuries, burned our Houses of Worship and desecrated the tombs of our Honored Dead.

All this is being asked of Israel, so that America can retreat from Afghanistan and Iraq in relative ease. All this is being asked of Israel, so that America can borrow enough money for its shattered healthcare system. All this is being asked of Israel, so that Barack Obama can secure his legacy as the man who betrayed an ally to its enemies. Yes, we have reached a turning point.

We must prepare ourselves to defend and secure what is rightfully ours, and by whatever means necessary.  Israel is Jerusalem, and Jerusalem is all of Israel.  The words that Jabotinsky wrote over 80 years ago are as alive and pertinent today as they were then:”The Torah and sword were both handed down to us from heaven.”

March 26, 2010 Posted by | Israel, Obama | Leave a comment

It’s all in the timing

Rehovot, Israel
21 March 2010

So much in life is about timing. Five minutes can make the difference between catching the bus and making it to work on time or missing the bus and having to endure the wrath of an irate boss. A one-week vacation can be a welcome respite from work (and the aforementioned irate boss). Three months, well, what can one expect from three months?

For the next three months, Israel can expect to endure a publicly televised and coordinated policy assault from the Obama administration in Washington. Forty years of American policy in the Middle East will be thrown overboard – along with Israel’s security – in order for the Obama administration to achieve its ill-conceived foreign policy objectives. Why three months?

After the American July 4th celebrations, campaigning for the mid-term congressional elections will hit full stride. At stake is the Democratic Party’s on-going control of the House of Representatives and Senate. While the Democrats are almost ensured of retaining a majority in the House, the Senate may be up for grabs.

If the Senate falls into Republican hands, the first two years of President Obama’s administration will end with scant few accomplishments. Despite having controlled both the White House and Congress, Obama will have precious little to show for it, except a still floundering economy and a bevy of dictators contemptuous of America’s resolve. Commentators and pundits will begin to write him off as a lame-duck, a “one-term wunderkind.”

President Obama can expect no help on the economic front. The US economy will not suddenly begin creating 500,000 per month. Housing prices will not recover their pre-depression values. The stock market may rally, but it must essentially climb 50% just for the average investor to get back to where he stood two years ago. China will not reverse its currency policy and cheap goods subsidized by the Communist regime will continue flooding into American stores, thus sending dollars overseas and draining American industries.

President Obama can expect no foreign policy dividends either. The American body count in Afghanistan will continue to rise. Iraq has reached equilibrium of sorts, sectarian violence only claiming a hundred lives or so every week. Iran has, as expected, skillfully eluded Obama’s grasp. There are no objectives in Africa, Asia, Europe or South America that would fire American voters with a sense of accomplishment. Only the Israeli-Palestinian conflict holds such “promise.”

This is why Obama must push it as much as possible.

However, by July 4th the President Obama will be called upon by his party to deliver the votes – and the more important dollars – that the congressional campaigns require. This will require the president to withdraw from foreign policy and concentrate on domestic policy. Certainly, in districts in Baltimore and Detroit, Florida and California, New York City and Philadelphia, the president and his minions will raise the Middle East in order to wring money out of Arab and Jewish voters.

He must not be allowed to succeed! Here is what you can do.

1. Register to vote: either as an independent or a republican.
2. Contribute what you can – be it financially or otherwise – to non-Democratic Party candidates.
3. Make your voice heard for those candidates: bumper stickers, signs in front yards, editorials to newspapers, write your own blog supporting the candidate, call into radio talk shows.
4. In November, get out and vote! Get your siblings, parents and children of voting age to the polls. Get your neighbors and co-workers to the polls.

Every day Hamas and the Palestinian Authority utter the most despicable anti-Semitic lies since Adolf Hitler. Neither President Obama nor his Jewish capos, David Axelrod and Rahm Emanuel, react.

Every day Hamas and the Palestinian Authority inculcate school children with hatred towards Israel and the Jewish People. There is no censure, no protest from Washington.

Every day, the Israel Defense Forces uncovers and foils another terrorist attack. President Obama does not object to Palestinian terror directed at Israel or the Jewish People.

All it takes for evil to succeed is for people of good character to sit idly by and do nothing. Act!

March 21, 2010 Posted by | Israel, Middle East, Obama | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Who’s the bigger idiot?

Joe Klein recently interviewed President Barack Hussein Obama for Time Magazine.  Klein’s softball questions and lack of follow-up questions, challenging this soon-to-be one-term wonder, left me asking a simple question: Who the bigger idiot?

It is Klein, who allows himself to be used? Is it Time, for publishing such drivel? Is it Obama, who ladles out this self-serving drivel? Or it the people who will, inevitably, vote for him again?  Here it is, word for word.

Klein: My sense of it is that [U.S. special envoy to the Middle East George] Mitchell spent a number of months negotiating a settlement deal and saw some progress from the Israelis and kind of got blinded by that, because he didn’t see that it wasn’t sufficient progress for the Palestinians.

Obama: I’ll be honest with you. A) This is just really hard. Even for a guy like George Mitchell, who helped bring about the peace in Northern Ireland. This is as intractable a problem as you get. B) Both sides — the Israelis and the Palestinians — have found that the political environment, the nature of their coalitions or the divisions within their societies, were such that it was very hard for them to start engaging in a meaningful conversation. And I think that we overestimated our ability to persuade them to do so when their politics ran contrary to that. From [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud] Abbas’ perspective, he’s got Hamas looking over his shoulder and, I think, an environment generally within the Arab world that feels impatient with any process.

And on the Israeli front — although the Israelis, I think, after a lot of time showed a willingness to make some modifications in their policies, they still found it very hard to move with any bold gestures. And so what we’re going to have to do — I think it is absolutely true that what we did this year didn’t produce the kind of breakthrough that we wanted, and if we had anticipated some of these political problems on both sides earlier, we might not have raised expectations as high. Moving forward, though, we are going to continue to work with both parties to recognize what I think is ultimately their deep-seated interest in a two-state solution in which Israel is secure and the Palestinians have sovereignty and can start focusing on developing their economy and improving the lives of their children and grandchildren.

BigMo: Wow! The Middle East is really hard! What is this, a 6th grade geography test? Europe was a snap, but the Middle East? Wow, man, it was really hard . . . SuperBama had fifteen months on the campaign trail to brush up on the capitals, major rivers, etc., but it is really hard.

BigMo: “if we had anticipated some of these political problems . . . ” isn’t that kind of like, well, the job of the president and his staff? SuperBama took office almost a full three months before Binyamin Netahahu’s coalition was formed. That should have been more than ample time to get a subscription to the Jerusalem Post – or read a cable from the ambassador in Tel Aviv.  Of course, when you spend all your time mugging for the cameras, who has time to read?

January 24, 2010 Posted by | Israel, Middle East, Obama, Palestine | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

No Consequences Obama

10 January 2010
Rehovot, Israel

It’s a great time to be alive, if you happen to Islamic fundamentalist terrorist, fighting America and all it supposedly still stands for. Why is that? Because, whether you are holed up in a cave in Afghanistan, the mountains of Yemen, the Islamic Emirate of Gaza or a recently exposed secret Iranian nuclear site, there are no consequences for your actions. You can send suicide bombers, foment civil wars, plot mass murder, and expect nothing more than “good talking to” from American president, Barack Hussein Obama.

“Why do you say such things about such a distinguished statesman?” you ask. After all, didn’t he just win the Nobel peace prize after just three weeks in office? He gives hope to millions and the promise of change is in the air! Unfortunately, it is not quite clear to which millions he is giving hope or the type of change that is exactly promised. Consider the following.

On June 12, 2009 the Iranian people went to their voting booths and chose between two candidates that had been pre-selected by Ayatollah Khamenei himself. Since the Ayatollah had personally vetted both candidates, could he possibly care about which one actually won the election? A great many Iranians were dismayed when incumbent president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won a second term. They turned to the street in peaceful protest, when Iran’s Guardian Council, which is appointed by the Ayatollah, conceded that the number of votes in fifty Iranian cities exceeded the number of registered voters. It seems that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had transferred Tammany Hall to Teheran.

Then Mahmoud Ahmadinejad showed he had learned another new trick: the Chicago-style police riot. Thousands of protesters were tear-gassed and beaten. Hundreds were arrested. Scores were killed, perhaps more. All of this is documented in video uploaded by hundreds of daring Iranian citizen-journalists. Pictures flooded into Internet sites like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. The beatings, arrests and murders continued.

How did Barack Obama react? Certainly this Nobel Prize winner could bring hope and change to the people of Iran, who had been cheated of fair elections and them brutalized for protesting this fact. Obama told stated that the world was “watching.” This is a stark contrast to John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address:

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to ensure the survival and success of liberty.

Obama is watching.

When the communist government of Poland started to crush the Solidarity Movement, President Reagan stated:

We view the current situation in Poland in the gravest terms, particularly the increasing use of force against an unarmed population and the violation of the basic civil rights of the Polish people.

Obama is watching.

President George W. Bush proclaimed in his second inaugural address:

“When you stand for liberty, we will stand with you.”

Obama is watching. Watching while people risk their lives to bring about the change that candidate Obama spoke of; dying in hopes of achieving the basic freedoms that President Obama spoke of in his (in)famous Cairo University speech of 4 June 2009. This is the change that President Obama has brought to the Middle East: no dictator, no terrorist, no Islamic radical need fear America, need fear democracy. It is something the radicals and terrorists have been hoping for!

January 10, 2010 Posted by | Middle East, Obama | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Obama: Looking Backwards

8 January 2010-01-08
The US is engaged in a war against terrorism that its current President, Barack Hussein Obama, neither understands nor wants to fight. Islamic-Fascists worldwide know this. It is why the Taliban has gained ground in Afghanistan. It is why Al Qaeda-linked groups have popped up and flourished like weeds in Somalia and Yemen. It is why Hezbollah – the “Party of God” – although rejected by Lebanese voters now dictates Lebanon’s defense and foreign policies. It is why Iran continues to violate UN resolutions and develop weapons pf increasing range and lethality.

Any one of these events occurring in isolation could be dismissed: the world is a big place and the US can’t be everywhere. This is also something that terrorists and terror-sponsoring states realize. It takes months for the US to mount just one effective military operation. Months, and tens of billions of dollars (which are in short supply). Months, tens of billions of dollars and thousands of men (which are also in short supply). And when the US President dismisses the severity of terrorism, it only makes it that much more difficult to marshal these resources.

The attacks in Fort Hood, Texas and the near repeat of a 9/11 type of event only underscore the fact that Obama is not just playing catching up, he has yet to enter the game. Critics like to dismiss George W. Bush’s swaggering and go-it-alone foreign policy, however after 9/11 there were no successful attacks on US soil. Barack Hussein Obama’s first year in office has seen one successful attack and one near-calamity. America: brace yourself for Obama Year 2!

A blogger recently commented that Obama’s foreign policy approach is a blending of two traditions in the Democratic Party: the Jeffersonian and the Wilsonian. In the early 21st century, it is a mistake – a deadly mistake – to look back 100 or 200 years for inspired foreign policy. The world has changed too much, weapons have become too powerful, and men like Thomas Jefferson and Woodrow Wilson had the intelligence to recognize when the rules of the game had changed. If they were alive today, both men would immediately recognize that the foreign policies of by-gone centuries only contain the seeds for their own destruction.

Jeffersonian foreign policy was based on the simple premise that America was a young democracy surrounded by monarchies intent on empire. It had few resources in the early 1800s. The best course was to limit America’s foreign commitment and involvement. Wilson envisioned a world at peace, a League of Nations whose mission it was to better mankind. America would lead by being a shining example of democracy, freedom and tolerance.

Today, America is an old democracy increasingly surrounded by communist kleptocracies, military dictatorships, pseudo-democracies, and Islamic fundamentalists. It is dependent on many of these countries for vital energy and mineral resources. Obama, courtesy of the Cold War, has inherited a worldwide empire of military bases and security commitments. And far from being a shining example of anything (except perhaps of a disillusioned populace) its financial and industrial might is crippled; its democratic institutions up for sale to the highest bidder.

Barack Hussein Obama was elected on a platform of change and hope: he has brought neither. His first year and office has been a failure. Enemies have been emboldened and key allies weakened and made mistrustful of American direction.  For any chance at salvaging the next three years, let alone his legacy, he must discard ideas that no longer have any merit and embrace the reality of the challenge that Western Civilization faces!

January 8, 2010 Posted by | Middle East, Obama | , | Leave a comment

No MidEast Accomplishments? No surpise!

As all good bloggers are accustomed to doing, I have multiple methods of keeping track of the number of “hits” my postings receive. First, there is the stat-tracking on the blog’s host site. Second, there are the automatic notifications from the discussion boards on which I post links. Third, there is my friend Frank. Frank often tells me how bad (the term he often uses is “POS!”) such a particular piece was.

Recently, it seemed that a lot of older postings were receiving increased hits, and I wondered why. Perhaps the holiday season had caused them to reflect on the state of humanity? Could it be that people had suddenly taken an interest in world affairs? Or was it more likely that a string of terrorist attacks – I refuse to use the Obama administration’s epithet “extremists” – had jarred people of their “historical moment” infatuation with Barack Hussein Obama?

Had they suddenly realized what a terrible mistake they just might have made that fateful first Tuesday in November 2008? Yes, I think they are beginning to realize that.

BHO came to office with no real plan to govern. He had no idea how to fix the economy, no I idea how to fix America’s healthcare crisis, no idea how to stop global warming, and certainly not even a gram’s worth of sense as far as foreign policy is concerned.

Let’s be fair. No one really has an idea how to fix the economy; it has never been broken like this before. America’s healthcare system is a mess, but one that could easily be solved by eating at McDonald’s ten fewer times each week and exercising. The demise of the world’s economies has at least delayed the melting of the polar icecaps. However, the Middle East is more than the Arab-Israeli conflict.

President Obama’s simplistic reduction of the matter to one of Palestinian statehood obscures numerous problems. Oil wealth is not evenly distributed and the have’s are not sharing with the have-not’s. There is a burgeoning demographic crises, with the number of 18-24 year olds increasing. This demographic is the cannon-fodder for extremist movements. There is the conflict between Shi’ite and Sunni Islam, 14 centuries in the making. Arab, Persians and Turks have been fighting for dominance over the region for almost the same period of time.

I have tried numerous times to parse President Obama’s foreign policy vis-à-vis this region. Is he truly simplistic and naïve? Does he hold the view that the US cannot continue to act as the world’s policeman? Is he just trying to keep the lid on the pot? All of these explanations may be true; none of them may be. One certainty is, that after a year in office he has accomplished little, excepting reducing America’s standing with allies and bolstering the prestige of its enemies.

January 2, 2010 Posted by | Middle East, Obama | , , , , | Leave a comment

Just six more months?

Just six more months until US President Barack Obama’s misguided peace initiatives stop.  Why six months?  Mid-term elections in the US, that’s why.  Memorial Day weekend at the end of May 2010 will signal the start of the referendum on Obama’s presidency.

The Republican’s will pull out all the stops in order to maintain the balance in the Senate and trim the Democrats’ majority in the House of Representatives.  The GOP will certainly beknocking on a lot of Jewish doors in states like California, Florida, Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey.  Large Jewish populations that have been less than thrilled with his feeble attempts to twist Israel’s arm while sucking up to demagogues, dictators and tyrants in the Arab world.

Democrats will need Obama on the campaign trail with them. They need to “rousing message of hope” to buy them one more precious term grazing at the public trough.  So, the Obaminator will have less time to spend bowing and scraping to Saudi Arabia, less time to hold Hosni Mubarak’s shaky hand, less time to play checkers with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.  The consolation being that he’ll still be in the lime-light that he so dearly loves!

November 14, 2009 Posted by | Middle East, Obama | , , | Leave a comment

1st Prize for Good Intentions

It would seem that the Nobel Peace Prize is now awarded for lofty intentions, not real achievements. Personally, I am deeply disappointed at not having won the prize for literature, but I still have high hopes of landing a Pulitzer later this year. Since nominations closed only 12 days after Obama took office, it is doubtful that this year’s recipient knew his way from the Oval Office to the bathroom in the West Wing residence, let alone where Chechnya, Darfur, East Jerusalem, Tibet or a dozen other places embroiled by conflict and war actually are located.

Writing for the Washington Post, Dan Balz said there was amazement that the award had gone to “a president still in his first year in office with no major accomplishments internationally”. Or domestically, he could have easily added.

The New York Times called it a “mixed blessing” for Obama that highlighted “the gap between the ambitious promise of his words and his accomplishments”. The Times went on to say that the award further demonstrated that Obama was still celebrated as the “anti-Bush” while in fact he had not shifted as much as he once implied he would from the previous administration’s national security policies. In other words, torture = bad, but occasionally useful.

In China the unofficial Beijing News called it “an award of encouragement”. The paper said the Nobel jury’s decision was more “symbolic” than anything else, and that it was “very clear that Obama’s ‘feats’ are still purely verbal and it will be very difficult to implement them”. In a related development, the Mao Tse-tung Elementary school is Xiandong Province awarded him the prestigious “Red Star of the Revolution” for his essay, “How I spent my Summer Vacation Alienating my Capitalist Allies.”

In Japan, the mass-circulation Yomiuri Shimbun saying it was “an important task for him to achieve fruitful results from now on”. The Asahi Shimbun stated: “Tough issues are mounting. It is still unknown if (he) can show achievement.” The paper speculated that soon Obama would arrive in Japan to deal with the North Korean nuclear threat, stop the on-going struggle between Godzilla and Mothra, then deal with the rising cost of baby dolphin fillets.

The Jakarta Globe in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, called the US leader an “extraordinary person”. “He leads by projecting values and attitudes that are shared by decent people in every corner of the world,” with the exception of Indonesia it said. “We hope the Nobel Peace Prize will encourage him to continue to work for peace, no matter how difficult the road ahead.” Below the fold, the paper reported that an international lumber company had cleared 100,000 acres of tropical forest, thus further reducing the planet’s eco-diversity.

Next week there are plans for Obama and Reverend Jeremiah Wright to announce the long-anticipated beginning of the Rapture.

October 11, 2009 Posted by | Obama | , , | 1 Comment

Nuclear Tap Dance

When will the other shoe drop?

In May of this year, one potential piece of Barack Obama’s “comprehensive” peace plan emerged.  It was given very little coverage outside of the Middle East.  On May 5, 2009, the US Assistant Secretary of State Rose Gottemoeller urged Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea to sign the non-proliferation treaty. One hundred eighty six nations have.  This includes Iran, which is flagrant violation; and Libya, which was “scared straight” by former President George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq in 2003.

At that time Uzi Even, a former Knesset member and scientist at the nuclear reactor in Dimona, said the statement by the assistant secretary of state is indicative of a change in the US’ policy towards Israel regarding its nuclear capabilities.  “In the past there was an informal agreement between the US and Israel; the Americans knew Israel possessed nuclear arms but looked the other way,” he said, “now the US is breaching this agreement.”   This would not be the last time the Obama regime has unilaterally attempted to re-write its relationship with Israel.

Even suggests that Israel must change its deliberately vague nuclear policy and sign the NPT, which would place Dimona under international supervision.  This would also allow Israel to develop nuclear weapons, at least theoretically.  However, Israel declaring its nuclear program is unlikely to have a positive effect on the stability of the region.  Arab states would then argue that Israel must disarm before any other issues can be discussed – including the dismantling of the Iranian program.

The other shoe drops

This past week, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit appealed to the UN Security Council to put Israel’s nuclear program under international supervision and set a timeframe for a nuclear-free Middle East.  In a letter to the 15-member council last week, Aboul Gheit highlighted that Israel has not signed onto the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) adding: “Israel’s nuclear capabilities cannot evade world attention.”

The resolution, passed at the end of the annual general assembly of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna on September 24, also demands that Israel open its nuclear reactor in Dimona to international inspectors.  Thus, the Egyptians have successfully put Israel’s nuclear program on the agenda.

In the first resolution, a majority of 49 countries passed.   The majority included all the members of the Arab League and the bloc of developing nations.  Opposing the resolution were 45 Western countries, including the European Union and the United States.  There were 16 abstentions.
Although the US and Europe attempted to back Israel, the result was a foregone conclusion.  The institutions the West created in the aftermath of the Second World War were hijacked years ago.  Gotemoeller’s little speech was picked up by Egypt and they ran with it.

Bargaining Chips

If Israel were to sign the NPT treaty, it would theoretically open the door to IAEA inspections.  This means Dimona, the site of most of Israel’s nuclear research activities, as well as several smaller facilities, such as Nahal Sorek. The reasoning goes like this: if Israel were to sign and admit inspectors, it would put pressure on Iran to give IAEA inspectors access to Iranian facilities, and also put pressure on them to start abiding by previously agreed upon limitations.  However, reason and Iran seldom go together.

If it were reasonable, wouldn’t it have responded to the first round of sanctions? What about the second round and third rounds of sanctions, which it ignored?  Reason would also dictate that with 120,000+ US troops based in countries on its eastern and western borders, Iran would act cautiously.  That hasn’t fazed the Iranians, either.  In fact, America, weary of both wars, their costs and their casualties, would like nothing better than to leave both Iraq and Afghanistan.  It knows it cannot do either, as Iran is poised to fill the vacuum should America leave precipitously.

However, let’s get back to the dance.  Increasingly, the Americans and the moderate Arab camp are viewing the Israeli nuclear program as a bargaining chip.  Why not?  It’s a good one that the so-called moderate Arab states can collect on twice.   If Israel is compelled to “come clean” on its nuclear program and weapons, immense pressure could be brought to bear on Iran. While Israel would still retain a strategic advantage, the extent of its capabilities would become known, giving the moderate camp more leverage on a host of issues: weapon purchases, their own nuclear plans and a Palestinian state.

If there were a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East, it would benefit Israel and all other nations as well.  If such a prohibition were coupled with a ban on the development of biological and chemical agents, along with missile technology, it would actually be to Israel’s advantage.  Unfortunately, the US and its European allies seem to have lost the testicular fortitude necessary to take action when even their most basic ideas and values are under attack. Obama only wags his finger at tyrants in Damascus and Teheran and mutters “tsk, tsk, tsk” under the chorus of change.

September 28, 2009 Posted by | Middle East, Obama | , , , | 1 Comment

Why has Obama Failed?


On August 29, 2009, I posted on this blog a somewhat long piece entitled “The September Deadline.”   The majority of the article elaborated on Israel’s military options, as the impending IEAE report and G20 conference in Pittsburgh had not yet taken place. Since the various Israeli military options have been discussed, there is no point in re-hashing them.  However, it is worthwhile to look at the failed diplomatic efforts and ask the question, “Why has Obama so far failed in the Middle East?”

The Promises of Obama’s Spring

Just five months ago, the Middle East was awash in optimism. President Obama had given his “historic” speech in Cairo.  Lebanon seemed to cast off the shackles of Hezbollah with the electoral victory of the March 14 coalition (backed by the US, Egypt and Saudi Arabia).  A week later, demonstrations and riots engulfed Iran in the wake of its bogus exercise in democracy.

Things looked promising for the so-called “moderate Arab camp.”  Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu was compelled to acknowledge that a Palestinian state would be established in the West Bank and Gaza.  This is something that previous Likud leaders, such as Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir, never would have stated.  To his credit, Netanyahu’s speech was not a blank check to either Obama or Abu Abbas.

But what happened next?  The promises of spring withered under the relentless Middle East summer.  Obama’s speech received lukewarm acceptance within the moderate Arab camp.  They were not as easily charmed as the doe-eyed sophomores at Al Azhar University.  Hariri’s coalition shattered against the implacable opposition of Hezbollah, and his Druze allies deserted.  Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad answered demonstrators with a bloody crackdown and sweeping arrests.
Obama’s Folly

Why has Obama been unable to deliver significant concessions from the moderate Arab camp – his erstwhile allies – that would move the peace process forward?  Why does Hezbollah continue to exercise power completely out of proportion to the results of the Lebanese elections?  Why, instead of sitting down to negotiate over its nuclear ambitions does Iran instead test missiles?

In a word, this is because President Obama has no clear-cut conception of how to conduct foreign policy.  He wavers back and forth between the “One World” approach and the idealistic naiveté Jimmy Carter.  His folly is thinking that geopolitics is the same as Chicago ward politics.  Obama wants to use multilateral diplomacy, close cooperation with allies and negotiations with adversaries.  He ignores the fact that multilateral diplomacy seldom works until the all the antagonists are sufficiently weakened by a conflict.

China and Russia have made significant economic, military and technological investments in Iran.   They will not abandon their global aspirations; the change they believe in is written in the Pinyin and Cyrillic alphabets, respectively.

Western Europe is in an economic shambles.  It does not have the economic muscle, and hence lacks the diplomatic and military muscle, to do much more than hold Obama’s coat while he fumbles for his watch.

Similarly, direct talks with Iran and Syria have failed to materialize.  Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria and Iran have accomplished more in thirty years of opposition to American policy than have any previous coalition of Arab/Muslin leaders.  Why would they cooperate with America, which they believe is corrupt and evil?  Especially now, when there is a president in the White House who they view as weak and overly infatuated with himself?

Damascus is not a Chicago union hall filled with overweight, middle-aged ex-steel workers.  Teheran is not the Harvard Club where fine points of constitutional law are debated.  These are capitals of independent states with their own ambitions, foreign policies and admittedly, a string of successes in opposing America.   They are dictatorships whose strongmen rule via the torture chamber and truncheon, not the ballot box and debate.   Obama has frittered away what little political capital he had in vain a vain attempt to change the reality of weltpolitik.  At best, he has a year to change his policies and tactics accordingly.

September 28, 2009 Posted by | Middle East, Obama | , , | 3 Comments