Setting up Israel
In a recent article, Jonathan Tobin stated, “If the president were genuinely interested in pursuing peace he would be hammering the Palestinians for their behavior and making it clear they would pay a high price for saying no to Kerry’s framework. Instead, he has given Abbas carte blanche to maintain the same obdurate stance he has taken since he took over the PA from his longtime boss Arafat….. All Obama is doing is setting up Israel to take the fall for a fourth Palestinian ‘no’ to peace.”
An informed reader can see the point Tobin is making. Abbas is spoken to and spoken about by Obama and Kerry as though he has good intentions towards peace despite his continuous unwavering objections and lack of giving back to Israel in negotiations. Obama will never rebuke him nor threaten him as he has done many times with Israel. He and Kerry cajole and coddle Abbas as though he were a sometimes recalcitrant but basically well-meaning player in the peace game. However, with Israel, despite all its compromises, our government uses a different rhetoric that publicly reprimands Israe lfor being hard-nosed and uncompromising, and even threatens her with a third Intifada. Given these scripted scenarios, it is clear that indeed Israel is intended as the “fall guy” in the likelihood of failed negotiations.
At the same time, looking at an incredible cluster of Obama foreign policy failures (how far and how long can he boast about taking out Osama?) this attempt to "blame Israel" for any "failure" may backfire. Will Israel be blamed if the so-called two-state solution is not achieved? Or will Obama be blamed as perpetrating another foreign policy blunder? It seems more likely that Obama himself will look like the hind parts of a horse. Libya, having been bombed illegally with no declaration by Congress, followed by Qaddafi's removal, is showing no democratic trends despite claims that the bombing was intended to instate democracy in that country. Further, the Benghazi incident, with the first murdered American ambassador in decades, is a disgusting event that commands revulsion by every patriotic and right thinking American. No one has been arrested or tried in connection with the Benghazi murders.
Egypt was a place where we backed the wrong horse. Obama tried to force Sharia law and murderous tyranny on the Egyptian people by so-called legitimate democratic means, but thankfully, he was thwarted. Syria's civil war has not improved one iota, and the chemical weapons problem has not been solved. Guantanamo Bay is still open, but the perpetrators of 9/11 still haven't been brought to justice. Africa is mired in civil war, starvation, and life-threatening diseases, and little has been done by the USA. The Castro brothers are still in charge in Cuba, and their Communist associates are still breezing along in Venezuela despite that country's wrecked economy. China continues to make aggressive moves against Taiwan and the Philippines, and North Korea is increasing its stockpile of nuclear missiles. Our military is being downsized to pre-WWII levels, and our standing armies gutted. We have 450,000 soldiers, Russia has 950,000, and China over 2,000,000 [paid for with the interest alone of our debt to China]. Japan, seeing the weakness of the U.S., is now beginning to take steps to remilitarize. Our nuclear arsenal is now below that of Russia based on an arms limitation signed during Obama's first term (when it was fashionable for the administration to talk about a 'reset' with Russia as part of a new post-cold war strategy). Georgia and now the Crimea have been co-opted by the gangsters of Russia.
And what about the foreign policy biggies, Iraq and Afghanistan? More of our service men and women have been killed and wounded in Afghanustan since Obama became president than in all prior years of our engagement. A civil war is clearly emerging in Iraq, and right now that country has become a vassal state of Iran. Afghanistan was declared to have surrendered under Bush, but we continue to be there under Obama. Kabul is held by the Karzai government, but the rest of the country still belongs to those warlords who supposedly live in caves. What we are doing there, and where we are going with that project has, incredibly, become even more murky under Obama than it was under Bush (pretty murky then too).
After supposedly defeating the Taliban -- who were condemned by us for harboring Osama and Al-Qaeda – the Karzai government we installed is now talking about negotiating with that selfsame Taliban. The nation-building component is clearly unsuccessful. The net result is that oil from Iraq may be raised in price, and America will suffer at the very hands of a country we supposedly saved from despotism under Saddam. President Obama is not offering a shred of clarity or leadership in these embroilments. The public is left to stew in disgust and to wonder about the future while, at the same time, the war wounded and war dead pile up.
In short, if Obama fails in getting a reconciliation between the Palestinian Arabs and Israel, it will not be surprising. He is bringing nothing to the table not tried by this three immediate predecessors in office, except an arrogance that puts the "N" in narcissism. An attempt to set up Israel to be blamed in case present negotiations collapse may in fact be administration policy. However, since foreign policy failure is the keynote of the Obama presidency, it is likely that world leaders and the American people will conclude that a collapsed talk between the P.A. and the Israeli government is simply another in a string of egregious U.S. mistakes.
E. Jeffrey Ludwig is a Harvard Master Teacher who has taught at Harvard, Penn State, Juniata College, and various secondary schools. He served onthe Editorial Board of the Harvard Educational Review, and is author of numerous articles and a forthcoming book on the Catastrophic Decline of America’s High Schools.