From Honduras to East Jerusalem

Biden and the administration's response recently to the announcement of settlements in East Jerusalem seems to be part of a pattern. Once again the administration responded without thinking or getting the whole story. Responding recklessly, they take a position that is difficult to reverse without either looking like fools or angering another party, in this case Abbas and the Palestinians.

In Honduras,  Obama and Hillary attacked the constitutional government and courts for enforcing their constitution. They decried the coup that wasn't a coup; there was no military takeover of the government and installation of a military leader.  The military who ejected President Zelaya was acting on the orders of the Supreme Court and Congress against the president for trying to hold an illegal election seeking to void the Honduran constitution's term limits.  Honduras did not want to become a Venezuela. The vice president became president according to their constitution.

Yet Obama's gut reaction was to side quickly against the constitutional government and with the likes of Raul Castro and Hugo Chavez. It became clear that the administration had reacted rashly.  They weaseled out of their quandary by requiring an election that was already scheduled and that would have happened anyway.  Zelaya never returned to power, but the message of how quickly we could abandon an ally was clearly delivered.

Perhaps Obama is so smart he doesn't need to be bothered with facts, and constitutions and rules do not seem to be much of a deterrent to his vision. 

Even his response to a simple police action in Cambridge which led to the beer summit showed a pattern of reckless assessment without  bothering to get the facts.  A president cannot afford to take make rash statements on minor matters without appearing foolish.  A Beer Summit? Over a minor mistaken burglary? How presidential was that?

But the attack on Israel for the announcement of housing construction in Jerusalem was more than just an example of turning a minor issue into a foreign policy firestorm.  It was also rash and thoughtless.  Hillary's 45 minute telephone tirade with Netanyahu was just an unnecessary pile-on to the disappointment already expressed by Biden on his visit. Perhaps she is just following her boss's direction, or perhaps her temperament is ill suited to her diplomatic position.  The Israelis violated no commitment;  they never promised to avoid natural expansion in Jerusalem. In fact telling the Israelis they should restrict building homes for Jews in Jerusalem is as arrogant as trying to tell the Hondurans how they should enforce their own constitution.

The pattern that is emerging is clear:  rash action that assumes the worst about our allies and the best about our enemies.  The Hondurans were condemned for following their constitution but Chavez was never chastised for overtly interfering into Honduran affairs. The Israelis were attacked for embarrassing the Vice President but  nothing was mentioned about the Palestinians honoring terrorists (until weeks later when their bungling became as apparent to them as it was immediately to Israel's supporters).

Arrogance replaces thoughtful action and understanding, and compels the president to act even in areas that serve only to distract from greater and far more important issues.  Once in office eloquence is no longer an acceptable substitute for competence.

Henry Oliner

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