Saturday, March 27, 2010

Obama's foriegn policy steps up a notch

Two long but worthwhile articles on the subject of Israel and geopolitics. The first by George Friedman of Stratfor seeks to provide context on the US Israel relationship as part of wider US strategy. It talks of the American desire to maintain the balance of power in three relationships. Israel-Arab, Iran-Iraq, India Pakistan. Personally I think that American strategy towards India has moved well beyond balance of power maintenance and more towards seeing it as a strategic ally against both China and militant Islamism. It is democratic and not Muslim. Pakistan is important for its influence over Afghanistan and the Taliban.

Friedman makes a persuasive case that Arab anti Americanism predates its support for Israel and whilst addressing the Israel-Palestine issue is important the relationship is complicated and at a point where the US is not prepared to accept.
The fundamental problem with the theory is that Arab anti-Americanism predates significant U.S. support for Israel. Until 1967, the United States gave very little aid to Israel. What aid Washington gave was in the form of very limited loans to purchase agricultural products from the United States — a program that many countries in the world participated in. It was France, not the United States, which was the primary supplier of weapons to Israeli.
The fact is that while the argument that U.S. Israel policy caused anti-Americanism in the region may not be altogether true, the United States does not need any further challenges or stresses. Nations overwhelmed by challenges can behave in unpredictable ways. Netanyahu’s decision to confront the United States at this time on this issue creates an unpredictability that would seem excessive to Israel’s long term interests. Expecting the American political process to protect Israel from the consequences is not necessarily gauging the American mood at the moment.
The second article provides a focused assessment of the outcome of Netanyahu's visit to the US where he was humiliated by the Obama administration. It compares the Bush-Baker approach to Israel in 1991 that prefaces what is becoming clear will be an exceptionally robust approach to Israel now that Obama has a health care victory under his belt in line with his previous policy position of being more sympathetic to the Arab view of the world.
Nearly twenty years ago, President George W.H. Bush and his Secretary of State James Baker made it clear that they were not going to pursue the pro-Israeli policies of the Reagan administration and were expressing strong criticism of the "Greater Israel" policies of the Likud government in Jerusalem as they attempted to revive the Middle East peace process.
He concludes:

There is no reason why President Obama and other officials should not use the American connection with Jerusalem to try to strengthen those forces in Israel whose vision of the country's future converges with American interests and values. That would mean taking sides in the ongoing debate in Israel by making it clear that the settlement policy threaten Israel's ties with the United States, its lifeline to the international community. An Israeli leader who fails to maintain the American connection or worse, one who harms those ties - would eventually be punished by the Israeli voters like Shamir had been in 1992. A tough stand by Obama would force Netanyahu to consider that unless he changes Israeli policies he too could be facing the same political fate. It would be his own choice; but Obama could help him make it.
It seems likely that Obama will turn his focus to the international scene now that he has a substantial domestic victory with the healthcare vote. Netanyahu has been wrong footed over the settlements in east Jerusalem to the point where a populist opportunity presents itself to Obama to make real progress over peace talks by continuing to push Israel. That could result in a fall of the Israel coalition government as moderate Israeli's fear the long term impact of antagonising America. The difficulty will be to identify Palestinian leadership that has sufficient vision and strength to do anything other than posture.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hmmmm - on the surface it seems that Obama and Biden especially just don't seem to like Israel much and are fairly naive about how things go on in the middle east.

This doesn't bode well for Israel as Syria/Hezbollah/Iran/PA have been looking for an excuse to launch another war against Israel for years but haven't been able to due to the strong US support of Israel.

Now that Obama appears to be weakening that support the arabs are likely to be emboldened to have another crack.

The only thing under the surface I hope is happening is that Netanyahu and Obama have dreamt this split up so that the Iranian mullahs are lulled into a false sense of security and that one morning we wake up to the news that the Israeli air-force has bombed Iran's nukes with US support.

Fairly remote though unless Obama is more cunning than he appears

Jimmie

Anonymous said...

"The only thing under the surface I hope is happening is that Netanyahu and Obama have dreamt this split up so that the Iranian mullahs are lulled into a false sense of security and that one morning we wake up to the news that the Israeli air-force has bombed Iran's nukes with US support."

Oh yeah that'll be it. Obvious really. Are the Kenyan mooslims involved somehow?

You guys are great.

Judge Holden

JC said...

The building that was indicated is in the Jewish Quarter of East Jerusalem. As even the AP readily admits building has gone on there for decades without a murmur from the Palestinians.. even during wars and intafadas.

Building likewise goes on in Jerusalem by Palestinians without a murmur.

The only thing thats changed is Obama. He's done his usual pretense of "fury", issued 13 decrees to Israel of stuff it must do to atone and generally manufactured a crisis of the event.

Basically he has neither knowledge or the skills to handle this and he's blundering around trying to look like a big shot.

Of course, the only reason this is an issue with the Arabs is they sense weakness in the US from the Dem blunderers.

JC

Psycho Milt said...

This doesn't bode well for Israel as Syria/Hezbollah/Iran/PA have been looking for an excuse to launch another war against Israel for years but haven't been able to due to the strong US support of Israel.

Some scientists have theorised there may be an infinite number of alternative universes. If they're right, there must be a universe in which this assessment is accurate. Otherwise, it's just loony.

The only thing thats changed is Obama.

Correct. It appears the US finally has a govt that recognises there's no chance for peace while Israel continues to illegally colonise the land it occupied in 1967. That change is by no means a bad thing - but as one of the linked articles points out, Obama is not in a strong position to take on the Israeli govt, so we shouldn't get our hopes up.

JC said...

"Correct. It appears the US finally has a govt that recognises there's no chance for peace while Israel continues to illegally colonise the land it occupied in 1967."

Of course there's no chance for peace when all involved Arab authorities are consumed with genocide for Jews and the elimination of the Jewish state.Only an idiot would expect peace under those conditions.

That was true before 1948, after sovereignty and with the limited borders then, after 1967 and for every moment since.

Neither borders, nor concessions, nor sanctions nor any single other thing change the rock bottom requirement of the Palestinians for the elimination of Israel.. the only change is that Obama is prepared to go that step with the Palestinians and Iranians.

JC

Psycho Milt said...

Cobblers. The Arabs know very well they're not going to get rid of Israel. They've had a deal on offer involving peace in exchange for a Palestinian state in the '67 occupied territories since 2002, which the media studiously fails to notice. And even if the genocide bullshit was still true, there'd be no way for the Arabs to make it happen, given Israel is militarily more powerful than all Arab states in the region combined and is the only one with nukes. The only thing genuinely standing in the way of peace now is the illegal occupation and colonisation of Palestinian territories, and the rest of the world's unwillingness to do something about it.

JC said...

"They've had a deal on offer involving peace in exchange for a Palestinian state in the '67 occupied territories since 2002,"

Correction.. there was an intafada in 2002, brought about by Arafat when he walked out on the Camp David peace talks of July 2000.

JC

Psycho Milt said...

Pretending the offer doesn't exist won't make it disappear. You can read about it here.

The intifada of 2002 was "brought about" not by Arafat but by the recognition that Israel had no intention of stopping its colonisation of their land. Maybe you think New Zealanders wouldn't bother fighting if a foreign power was to occupy and colonise NZ, but according to international law they'd be free to do so.

JC said...

The Intafada started in 2000, after the Camp David talks, not 2002. The so call peace plan was promoted by Saudi Arabia, was thrown out by Hamas and Abbas' Palestinians. Abbas and the PNA only came to the plan when the Intafada was defeated, Gaza was wrested of Abbas and co and it looked like the West Bank would also fall to Hamas.
None of these parties could or would recognise Israel.. Hamas because of ideology and Abbas/PNA because they had no power to do so.

And NZ would most certainly fight against a foe trying to take it over, because unlike the Palestinians this is a sovereign country that pays its international dues.

Talking peace in palestine is a waste of time until Hamas, Fatah and the PNA can control and/or eliminate their terrorists, renounce violence, remove the portions of their charters on eliminating Israel and show some positive signs of nation building.. fat chance when the world is subsidising their very existance and their current terrorism.

JC

Psycho Milt said...

That's certainly the Israeli view - but to anyone not blindly partisan on the issue, it's clear enough that people have a right to fight against the colonisation of their country by another, and the colonisers have a right only to cease and desist. Obama's govt would never go that far, but any progress towards it is progress.

Anonymous said...

"Israeli air-force has bombed Iran's nukes with US support."

Counter-force and counter-value, I hope!

Talking peace in palestine is a waste of time until Hamas, Fatah and the PNA

The Palestinians will never stop trying to wipe out Israel. It is the foundation of Hamas, in their charter.

There has always only been one (OK or two) lasting solutions to the Palestinian problem. Forcing open the borders to Egypt and Jordan and then driving the population out is by far the best of the two options.

The other option will cause dangerous fallout damange over much of Israel.

Psycho Milt said...

Weird how the fascists all support Zionism these days - the Lebensraum and Untermenschen schtick hasn't changed though...

KG said...

The real fascists nowadays are the left.
Which is why leftoids such as you Milt would be perfectly happy to see the Arab world apply the Final Solution to the Israelis.
You may dress it up how you wish, with mealy-mouthed utterances about "justice" and so forth but at the end of the day people such as you are no better than than those who shrugged and looked the other way as Jews were herded onto trains headed for Auschwitz and Buchenwald.

Anonymous said...

You don't have a clue what a fascist is Cagey (or much of clue about anything really). You just throw the word around as a general term of abuse for anyone who isn't as rabidly intolerant as you are.

Judge Holden

Psycho Milt said...

I see Judge Holden beat me to it. Face it KG: there's only one guy on this thread suggesting untermenschen should be forced out or murdered to accommodate a superior race's lebensraum project - and you're writing in to support him.