15 October 09
At some point, not even the mainstream media can spin sufficiently for the hapless Obama foreign policy. This Washington Post report is blunt:
A political crisis for the Palestinian Authority and growing doubts about American mediation have deeply undercut chances that Israeli-Palestinian peace talks will resume in the near future, according to officials and analysts on both sides.
After nine months of shuttle diplomacy by U.S. special envoy George J. Mitchell, the gap between Israeli and Palestinian leaders appears to have grown, and it now includes not only a dispute over Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank, but also renewed tension over Jerusalem, disagreement over the framework for the talks and controversy over a U.N. report on alleged war crimes during Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip last winter.
In other words, Obama’s Middle East gambit, apparently inspired by those known Middle East policy wonks Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod, has failed. Spectacularly so. Putting daylight between the U.S. and Israel and sneering at the Bush team for being too close to Israel didn’t really get the Obami anywhere, did it? The Post is candid that the fixation on settlements “backfired.” As virtually every pro-Israel conservative commentator predicted, “It raised hopes among Palestinians, who began to demand nothing less than a full freeze, and led to severe tensions in U.S.-Israeli relations.”
And all that ingratiating with the “Muslim World” in Cairo? Not much was gained; in fact, the parties are more estranged than ever. Our relations with Israel have not been this strained since . . . well, ever . . . and the administration’s credibility is arguably worse than any of its recent predecessors.
What can be learned from all this? Sanctimonious speeches and fractured history-telling don’t make for “peace.” Savaging your allies doesn’t get you anywhere. And ignoring hard truths — including the Palestinians’ unsolved internal divisions and refusal to renounce and root out terrorism — also doesn’t get you anywhere. Moreover, Obama’s appearance on the scene doesn’t change any of the fundamental issues; neither does chanting “diplomacy” or “dedication to the peace process.”
This should be a wake-up call for the administration. The Obama team might want to consider letting domestic pols run foreign policy. And they might put away some of their egocentric misconceptions about the power of Obama’s aura.