May 22, 2011
Clarice's Pieces: Obama and the 'Teutonic Shift' in the Middle EastBy Clarice Feldman
One wonders if this is finally the week that the scales fall from the eyes of those Jews who voted for and supported Obama, not to mention these and other voters who hoodwinked themselves into believing that this man was some sort of brilliant new leader.
The preamble to this week's Obama epic foreign policy blunder was the president's comment on May 10 in Austin that there was a "Teutonic shift" taking place in the Middle East. To me, the grandiose albeit risibly erroneous description signaled that Obama's narcissistic needs needed stoking with some bold new initiative which no one but such a genius as he is could imagine. The following day, someone in the White House brain trust corrected the transcript to read "tectonic shift," but the writing on the wall was clear, even though White House spokesman Jay Carney denied it.
Obama intended to and, in fact, did go on to make a stupid but dramatic call that Israel return to the indefensible 1967 borders.
First, of course, he patted himself on the back for imaginary achievements, indicating that he had supported democracy in the Middle East from the moment of his Cairo speech. Actually, for those who paid attention, he did no such thing. He ignored the popular revolts in Iran and Syria, and he was slow to respond to the events in Egypt and Tunisia. Of Syria, in fact, he said this week, "The Syrian people have shown their courage in demanding a transition to democracy. President Assad now has a choice: He can lead that transition or get out of the way." I'm not sure Assad or his people heard the clarion call. At the moment it was made, Assad's forces were firing at and killing peaceful civilians gathered in pro-democracy demonstrations in Banias and Homs.
As bad as the misstatements about the Middle East generally were, the call to return to untenable 1967 borders is far worse. If the president sticks to this, it means that he is reneging on the promise Bush made to Israel, the second time a Democrat president has gone back on the word of his predecessor to Israel's great disadvantage. For Democrats, the word of the U.S. is certainly not our bond -- at least not to allies.
Citing with approval Charles Krauthammer, David Bernstein at The Volokh Conspiracy explains why the Israelis have no reason to put their trust in us:
He says exactly what I was thinking [link in original]: Israel necessarily gives up tangible assets (land) for promises of peace. Israel is willing to do only if her government trusts the U.S. When President Obama ignores promises made to Ariel Sharon by Obama's predecessor in exchange for withdrawal from Gaza-that American policy started from the premise that Israel would keep the settlement blocs-that trust evaporates.
One could safely assume that this will go nowhere -- after all, there are no negotiations scheduled, and there are unlikely to be any. There's not even a U.S. "facilitator," George Mitchell having pulled out a week ago, when it was clear that Obama's mucking about had destroyed the possibility of any meaningful talks. He didn't even suggest a next move in this Opus. So why was this blunder so significant?
Because the president's comment lends support to the anticipated effort to get the U.N. Security Council to mandate an Israeli return to the 1967 borders, the Obama plan is more than silly and faithless -- it would mean Israel's destruction. And any suggestion that some international peacekeepers could protect Israel after a massive shift of its population to forty-year-old boundaries is beneath consideration.
My friend Jimmyk says it even more succinctly:
Aren't UN "Peacekeeping" troops stationed expressly at the pleasure of the local despot, meaning that it's official policy that they can be dismissed for any or no reason at any time? If so, that's more or less like having fire insurance that is void in the event of, you know, a real fire. (That's quite aside from the child sex abuse scandals and other corruption.)
After making his swan dive into the abyss, Obama proceeded with a White House chat with Prime Minister Netanyahu followed by a press opportunity and a scheduled state dinner.
One assumes that Obama anticipated that his own position would remain unchallenged in this formal setting -- rather like his attacks on Congressman Ryan in a "seminar"-type setting in which he controlled the mic, or the unprecedented attack on the Supreme Court justices at the State of the Union address, at which the justices do not get to speak.
If so, he was mistaken, as even an illiterate could tell from the body language of the two men.
In a controlled but respectful address to the press while seated alongside the president, Bibi argued that "peace based on illusions will crash on the rocks of reality" and used the opportunity to school the president on the facts on the ground. Bibi flatly stated that Israel could not be secure with a return to the 1967 borders, that it could not negotiate with a state that is partnered with Hamas, and it could not agree to an Arab right of return, which would destroy Israel entirely.
Both Mark Steyn and I consider the president's enormous miscalculation a result of his academic background. To my mind, so much of the liberal arts and social science class college work rewards the "original, creative, non-conventional" approach over a well-thought-out solid one, which explains why Obama frequently reaches for the former approach as evidence of his own intellectual prodigy. In fact, as in this case, it shows he doesn't know the facts and has a sloppily constructed, unsupportable thesis.
In a similar vein, Mark Steyn sees this as a product of the "faculty lounge" thinking.
[I]f you have the western faculty lounge attitude, which is the sewer Obama has been marinated in his entire adult life, then 1967 matters far more than 1973, or 1948, or 1922, because 1967 is as the faculty lounge left see it, the moment when the Israeli occupation began[.] [...] Why by the way did it begin? It began because Israel's neighbors launched another disaster war on them. The enemy, Egypt - Israel's enemies are incompetent at fighting conventional war and they discovered that actually instead of sending your troops into battle and keep losing your wars, why not play western public opinion like a fiddle and eventually the pressure - you start with the low-hanging fruit, your average European foreign minister, but eventually if you keep the pressure up you will land an American president who basically is not prepared to stand by the state of Israel and that's what they got right now.
You need only compare pictures of Netanyahu and Obama as young men to see the difference. One is a serious person, the other a jive-ass (h/t:Janet).
Like Obama, Netanyahu has fine educational credentials, with degrees from Harvard and MIT, but Netanyahu has been personally tested in battle, where rash, unconsidered actions have immediate, fatal consequences. Obama until now has been pontificating and swanning about. His only real battles to date have been with straw men of his own making.