When Seduction Fails It’s Time for Obama to Make His Own Weather

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obama net.jpg
Barack Obama’s latest effort to seduce Benjamin Netanyahu to stop expanding illegal settlements in occupied territories as a portal into renewed Palestine-Israel talks has collapsed.
Khruschev, Oops, I mean Netanyahu has yet again thrown eggs in the face of President Obama, humiliated him and his team — including Hillary Clinton and Dennis Ross who helped craft the plan to bribe Israel with military aid.
President Obama should be fuming, behind closed doors. One wonders if Netanyahu is the reason that the overworked President is having an extraordinarily tough time saying no to cigarettes.
The collapse of this malformed initiative in which America belittled itself by offering Israel so much to do so little (a 90 day freeze?) is actually a great thing — and if I were meeting with the President now, I would tell him that I think he was lucky that things fell through and that he should relax.
If the Israelis had taken the deal offered and then not made the 90 day dance work towards something constructive, hopes would again have been raised among Palestinians and among Arabs in the region for progress. The collapse of the process at the end of the 90 days would have yielded more potential damage, even violence, than a collapse before the arrangement even started.
Netanyahu and Abu Mazen can’t blame Hamas on these talks failing. There are no radicals (other than a few in the Israeli Cabinet) who can be pointed to. The Palestine-side of the equation of Salam Fayyad, Mahmoud Abbas, Mohammed Dahlan, and others is about as American-compliant and moderate a team that could be imagined. And yet a deal could not be achieved.
Zbigniew Brzezinski, Brent Scowcroft, and other very wise foreign policy practitioners from America’s higher stakes Cold War past recommended to President Obama that he lay out his own parameters and vision for what the outlines of a final deal should look like. They strongly encouraged him to “make his own weather” and to provide this outline of his views before the February 2009 Israeli elections.
Barack Obama failed to heed their advice. Big mistake. And ever since, Obama has been responding to the weather that Bibi Netanyahu has created.
It’s time to change up the game — just as in a basketball game when things aren’t going well, or in the early part of Obama’s presidential campaign in late 2007/early 2008 when Lou Susman and others held a serious come to Jesus meeting with Obama about how serious he was (or wasn’t) about running for President.
Barack Obama needs to push reset — needs the foreign policy equivalents of Lou Susman, Penny Pritzker, and others to tell him to stop behaving as if he is JFK the novice and needs to become JFK the great. At Ted Sorensen’s memorial service last night, I couldn’t stop thinking about the tremendous faith that Sorensen had in Kennedy early on, through all of his mistakes, helping him finally to achieve big scores in the Cuban Missile Crisis and securing the the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
My hunch is that people around the President like Tom Donilon, Denis McDonough, Ben Rhodes, Jon Favreau, and Adam Frankel are collectively the Ted Sorensens of today — though not quite the irreplacable him. They have faith in President Obama, and they need to guide him into what will eventually be a collision with Netanyahu that will both be part unstoppable assertion of America’s power combined with sensible restraint. But there is no doubt that the President now must put his imprint on the deal he wants and no longer depend on the illusion that the two primary parties have the maturity or sense of their long term national security interests to do a deal on their own.
Now, the President needs to reach out to those he has not heard before. The ones he had on his team who got drawn into the weeds of the Palestine-Israel mess, or who thought that they could make Palestinian moderates look like winners in a “too much, too late” strategy of offering them lots of resources to shower on their constituents, or who thought that Benjamin Netanyahu would yield to the US President because of his experience not having done so his last time he held the same post — have been wrong.
This is the time for new ideas, for the Palestinians and Israelis to hear Barack Obama’s vision on the outlines of a final status deal, and for “bridging proposals.”
This failure announced yesterday is actually a great opportunity. I happened to chat with President Bill Clinton last night at the International Crisis Group Annual Dinner honoring George Soros — and as grim as things might appear on the surface, Clinton too thought that there was an opportunity to move the parties forward. (President Obama really ought to give President Clinton a call to have a chat on the subject.)
There are ideas kicking out there that I will elucidate in further days — but the key at the moment is for the White House to step back and realize that it missed a bullet by this plan collapsing. This now gives the President significantly more latitude in going back to a broad stakeholder approach to a deal — and to putting his own views out more directly.
That’s the course the administration has been privately flirting with a long time — but has been too shy or too timid to offer. Netanyahu’s failure to perform, his rejection of President Obama’s effort at seduction, now opens the door to better, healthier possibilities.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

31 comments on “When Seduction Fails It’s Time for Obama to Make His Own Weather

  1. Gunther says:

    Obama is a President that can

    Reply

  2. nadine says:

    “Netanyahu and Abu Mazen can’t blame Hamas on these talks failing. There are no radicals (other than a few in the Israeli Cabinet) who can be pointed to. The Palestine-side of the equation of Salam Fayyad, Mahmoud Abbas, Mohammed Dahlan, and others is about as American-compliant and moderate a team that could be imagined. And yet a deal could not be achieved.” (Steve Clemons)
    Steve, when you write stuff like this, you just leave me baffled. I know from communicating with you that you are a bright guy. So how can you write such nonsense with a straight face?
    First, the three PA guys in the room aren’t particularly “American-compliant.” Nothing was asked of them but to sit down at the table. This they refused to do, badly embarrassing the Obama administration. So what does their compliance consist of? The talks failed because the PA wouldn’t talk. Netanyahu at least gave a 10 month freeze and was perfectly willing to talk. For that you call him Khruschev.
    Second, these talks supposedly concern the settlement of the whole I/P conflict. How can you possibly write that “Netanyahu and Abu Mazen can’t blame Hamas on these talks failing. There are no radicals…who can be pointed to”? Are the radicals ‘out of sight, out of mind,’ just because they are not in the room? What, did their influence disappear? Their veto-by-violence of results they don’t like? Hamas’ rule over Gaza? The hard-liners’ control of the Fatah Central Committee? WTH?
    Is this supposed to be foreign policy analysis or science fiction? Are you just keeping up the NAF party line that the answer to every question is to demand more Israeli concessions? That would at least be some kind of explanation, but at some point this becomes an exercise in pure ideology, not factual analysis. If you want to know why I say you have a fundamental bias against Israel, analysis like this is why.
    BTW, Khaled Abu Toameh is reporting that rumors are flying on the West Bank that Dahlan intends to stage a coup and unseat Abbas. But never mind, just give the Palestinians the West Bank and I’m sure they’ll get their act together very peacefully like the true statesmen they are.
    The Palestinians: Possible Coup?
    by Khaled Abu Toameh
    Until recently, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas used to claim that Hamas was plotting to overthrow his government in the West Bank. Abbas’s claim was aimed at justifying the massive crackdown that his security forces have been waging against Hamas supporters in the West Bank.
    But in recent weeks Abbas’s top aides have also begun talking about another threat to his government

    Reply

  3. JameelaMOA says:

    Jews are the Jinn Species
    The Jews are the Children of Israel and non-Jews are the Children of Adam. The Jew

    Reply

  4. samuelburke says:

    I don’t know about any plots by the AIPAC, there is no denying
    though that they command respect. No need to try to vanish it
    away.
    and also, that there seems to be a gulf forming.

    Reply

  5. samuelburke says:

    Obama is getting his weather made for him by the great wurlitzer.
    http://antiwar.com/radio/2010/12/10/gareth-porter-101/
    Gareth Porter, independent historian and journalist for IPS News,
    discusses the dominant (and false) narrative of MSM coverage of
    WikiLeaks

    Reply

  6. nadine says:

    If Obama wants to make his own weather, he should order up some rain in the Levant. They could really use some.
    I assure you, Obama’s chances of success as a rain-maker are much higher than as a peace-maker.
    It may, after all, rain soon. But there is not going to be a peace anytime in the foreseeable future.

    Reply

  7. MarcV says:

    DonS: The incentive the Israelis have is that they want to keep their state Jewish and democratic. They know they cannot aborb the West Bank and Gaza and still remain a Jewish State.
    What leverage do you think the PA needs? They are obviously not equals in the sense that they are not a nation-state with the powers of Israel. But they are certainly the world’s charity case.
    What I mean by borders and security will determine settlements is just that. We know the major settlement blocs will most likely stay with Israel in exchange for possibly the Arab “triangle” in northern Israel. So whatever lesser settlements remain outside those blocs would belong to the Palestinian state. So whatever those settlers build is going to revert to Palestine in the end (just like the settlements abandoned in Gaza that Hamas destroyed rather than use for their people).
    samuelburke- Guess that $80 billion in advanced weapons to Saudi Arabia or Eqypt’s annual subsidy is really a plot by the AIPAC?

    Reply

  8. Carroll says:

    Obama will do nothing. At one point I thought he might possibily be manuvering to deliberately create an opening to bring in other countries demands for a settlement to add heft to the process and duck some of the domestic political fallout on himself. But I’ve decided he ‘s not that smart after all.
    But I believe some other countries will bring pressure to bear.
    And as much as everyone wants to think the US is and always will be the biggest boy on the block….once the US is overidden by others actions on Palestine/Israel we will be 100 times weaker in the eyes of the world. They will have trumped the US in the ME and the Jews they believe control the US policy. And that will inspire other countries to challenge and not defer to other US positions.
    And that might not be altogether bad.

    Reply

  9. samuelburke says:

    prof walt says…no lobby here folks nothing to see please move
    on.
    http://walt.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2010/12/09/goldbergs_lat
    est_silly_sally#commentspace
    Once you ask that question, of course, his case collapses. Let’s
    look at the vast influence that the “Arab lobby” has wielded in
    recent years.
    1. It is undoubtedly the all-powerful Arab lobby that ensures
    that Israel gets $3-4 billion in economic and military aid each
    year, even when it does things that the United States opposes,
    like building settlements. And were it not for the Arab lobby, the
    United States would be putting a lot of pressure on Israel to sign
    the Non-Proliferation Treaty and come clean about its nuclear
    arsenal.
    2. It was the vaunted Arab lobby that convinced President Bush
    to delay a U.N. ceasefire resolution during the Lebanon War of
    2006, so that Israel could try to finish off Hezbollah and
    continue bombing civilian areas in Lebanon. Pressure from the
    Arab lobby also convinced Congress to pass a resolution backing
    Israel to the hilt, and to remove language from the original draft
    that called for both sides to “protect civilian life and
    infrastructure.”
    3. When Ambassador Charles Freeman was nominated to chair
    the National Intelligence Council in 2009, the vast Arab lobby
    promptly launched a successful smear campaign to deny him the
    post, running roughshod over his outnumbered and powerless
    defenders at the New Republic, Wall Street Journal, Atlantic
    Monthly, and Washington Post.
    4. When Obama asked Israel to implement a settlement freeze in
    2009, the Arab lobby promptly swung into action and drafted
    open letters warning the President not to put any pressure on
    Israel. These resolutions passed overwhelmingly in both Houses,
    another sign of the Arab lobby’s political clout.
    5. When Israel attacked Gaza in December 2008, the Arab lobby
    was there to prevent the U.S. from interfering. And when the
    Goldstone Report raised the issue of possible Israeli war crimes
    in that war, the Arab Lobby no doubt called the Obama
    administration and told it to condemn the report, which it
    promptly did.
    6. Needless to say, the insidious power of the Arab lobby no
    doubt explains why we have a former employee of the “pro-
    Israel” Washington Institute for Near East Policy (and former head
    of the Jewish People’s Policy Planning Institute) in a key role
    guiding U.S. Middle East policy. Aaron Miller was dead wrong
    when he said the United States acts as “Israel’s lawyer”; the Arab
    lobby ensures that U.S. government officials constantly take the
    Arab side whenever disputes arise.
    7. The long arm of the “Arab lobby” also shapes our public
    discourse, aided by the chorus of pro-Arab, pro-Palestinian, and
    pro-Muslim columnists and pundits at the Wall Street Journal,
    Washington Post, New Republic, and Atlantic Monthly. And you’d
    better not say anything critical of an Arab country or of Islam, or
    the Anti-Defamation League will denounce you and you might
    even lose your job.
    8. And don’t forget to sign up for the Arab Lobby’s annual “Policy
    Conference” in Washington, where you will see a bevy of
    politicians from both parties lining up to proclaim their
    commitment to the “unshakeable” alliance between the United
    States and the Arab and Muslim world.
    Obviously, none of these things happened because of the “Arab
    lobby,” but the Israel lobby played a key role in all of them. In
    short, Goldberg’s latest assertions don’t even pass the giggle
    test. And if he wants to talk about money, let’s consider
    campaign contributions. According to The Economist, between
    1990 and 2004 pro-Israel political action committees gave
    nearly $57 million dollars to candidates and parties, while Arab-
    American and Muslim PACs gave slightly less than $700,000.
    Wow: that’s some “Arab lobby!” And that’s just the PAC money,
    not contributions by individuals.

    Reply

  10. DonS says:

    @6:30 in response to MarkV, who seems to be new here.

    Reply

  11. DonS says:

    1) What incentive do you think the Israelis have to negotiate in good faith?
    2)What leverage do you think the Palestinians have to negotiate as equals?
    Rehashing why things haven’t worked is one thing. Realistically assessing whether any process can work fairly is another.
    “borders and security will determine what happens to the settlements.” What does that mean? So is Bibi’s thunder that no inch of settlement will be given up pure bluster?

    Reply

  12. MarcV says:

    I am glad Obama changed course. Only an agreement by the parties is going to be worth anything. The Palestinians wasted 10 months and then decided a settlement freeze was the most important thing. When in reality, borders and security will determine what happens to the settlements.
    I am amazed by the posts here that keep insisting that the 1967 borders are sacrosanct. They never were. I also don’t understand why the West Bank must be ethnically cleansed of Jews, yet suggesting Israeli Arabs should move to the Palestinian state is considered ridiculous.
    If the Palestinians were serious about a deal, they would return to direct negotiations now without a settlement freeze. They also need to give up fantasies like the right of return to Israel proper or having half of Jerusalem. But they won’t do that because it destroys their narrative.

    Reply

  13. Kathleen Grasso Andersen says:

    jdledell…I agree that the UN is the most likely source of a new solution and it would be wise, politicallym for the US to call upon the UN for support in enforcing the 1967 borders…whenever the Bushes wanted something unpopular,like unjustied war, they asked the UN for cover…why not to promote peace and justice for Palestinians?
    Slightly OT but an interesting piece by Eric Margolis in which he compares Julian Assange to the infamouns Scarlet Pimpernel…
    http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article27024.htm….

    Reply

  14. John Waring says:

    James K. Galbraith on our feckless President. States:
    http://www.newdeal20.org/2010/12/06/whose-side-is-the-white-house-on-28968/

    Reply

  15. Leevan Banzuelo says:

    Obama is a good president, but he’s not perfect.
    Let’s not expect him to be able to solve everything
    all at once. These kinds of issues need careful
    deliberation before making a move.

    Reply

  16. Sam Benton says:

    Is WikiLeaks a diversion and by the ‘leaks’ is this the beginning of some kind of negotiated solution of the Afghanistan war and the target date for the actual building of the 1,680-km long pipeline from Turkmenistan (which has the 3rd largest gas reserves after Russia & Iran) to India in this year, 2010 ?? Is it all falling into place?
    When I searched on the WikiLeaks website for any reference to TAPI, TAPI pipeline, Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline, Afghanistan gas pipeline…or any combination of these, I got NO RESULTS.
    That’s proof enough for me that WikiLeaks is a CIA fake — a true intel psyop.

    Reply

  17. YY says:

    This is very similar to the tax compromise. The fundamental problem may not be Obama seeking compromise or middle ground or a pragmatic result.
    It may be that he does not recognize that the opponent has no interest in coming to any result, therefore all effort to negotiate come to naught. When your opposite does not have a interest in coming to a result, one should not try to negotiate. One should begin by forcing a situation where the opponent requires and desires something other than status quo. They need to have created for them dis-incentives to stick to the on going position. It is not sufficient that to know that the opponent is headed to worse result otherwise, because they do not recognize nor know that. Obama is too trusting of his opponents knowing what they are doing and being conscientious in any rational way. Basically he’s too smart for his own good.

    Reply

  18. PissedOffAmerican says:

    U.S. put settlement freeze talks on hold due to WikiLeaks
    Knesset committee members say defense minister’s explanation that Obama administration was dealing with other issues is just an excuse to cover up Israel’s bad foreign policy.
    By Jonathan Lis
    Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Tuesday that contacts with the United States over a renewed moratorium on West Bank construction had been frozen in the wake of the WikiLeaks crisis and the tensions between North and South Korea.
    “We have not reached understanding with the United States on how to resume the construction freeze,” Barak told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. “The negotiations with the Palestinians are of utmost priority for Israel and we must aspire to make them happen.”
    Barak said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had reached a gentlemen’s agreement in their discussions over trading a freeze for certain American guarantees, adding that a deal was not yet “closed” and that the approval of Congress was still needed.
    The defense minister’s explanation was met with some incredulity by committee members, who accused him of making excuses for Israel’s problematic foreign policy.
    continues….
    http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/barak-u-s-put-settlement-freeze-talks-on-hold-due-to-wikileaks-1.329339
    Can these people like Barak or Netanyahu be any more full of shit? If their mouths are moving, they’re lying. Wiki-leaks is now the excuse? Give me a break. These people are despicable.

    Reply

  19. Don Bacon says:

    This is still a democracy where foreign policy decisions are not determined by a Decider, and that’s good.
    So WigWag’s argument that Obama’s policies are really Congress’s policies is correct, and Obama’s weakness (as in other areas) serves to reinforce the power of Congress.
    The dimunition of executive power, accelerated by Obama’s inherent lack of character, and his political and moral weakness, is actually a good thing for America.
    The “American street” is saying that Obama has no choice but to do what Congess demands. Obama was never capable of “making his own weather” and never will be. This gets the presidency back to the executive function as the executor of the people’s (Congress’s) decisions and away from the Bushy “Deoider” model, a good thing.
    That of course means that there is no hope for the Palestinians, but there never was any hope so long as the US is allowed to have any supervisory function over I/P.
    You want hope? Get the US out of the equation because the US is only a biased factor on the Israel side, merely a diplomatic cover for the Isreal takeover of Palestine.
    You want hope? Get a real mediator on the I/P case — not the US.

    Reply

  20. Warren Metzler says:

    POA, If Obama wanted to, he could recognize Hamas won the election fairly and squarely, and have every official US M/E person talk to them for their view. He could get Egypt to stop their blockage of their entrance to Gaza. He could send in the US to provide entrance to Gaza via their limited port. He could cause their airport to open and allow flights to and from Gaza. He could tell Israel, without any problem, I’m not going to tell you what to do, and if rockets are fired from Gaza I accept a reasonable response, but you cannot embargo a place from which you have withdrawn and which you do not consider to be a part of Israel, and more. None of this would require Congress to act, and none of it could be stopper by Democrats.
    Of course all these actions would require Obama to have integrity and character (moral backbone) of which he appears to have none.

    Reply

  21. JohnH says:

    Other commenters are correct in noting that it’s not just the I/P issue where Obama’s approach is deeply flawed. Obama has revealed himself as someone who will take no position. Further, he is extraordinarily risk averse in dealing with everyone on everything. Only with the interests of the American people is Obama willing to compromise and gamble, because no one represents them in Washington anyway.
    Obama’s knee jerk reaction is to get intransigent parties into a room where he stupidly believes that they will agree to negotiate. For the rich and powerful, interest in negotiations went out with the fall of the Soviet Union, which was attributed to US resolve and intransigence. The ruling elites bought the narrative that intransigence works. After all, if it worked in toppling the Soviets, it could work everywhere!
    Republicans became intransigent. Israel became intransigent. Corporations, along with the rich and powerful, learned that they could almost always get there way and stonewall the government against taking any action against them.
    And then, this cheerful new kid comes along, and, out of the blue, decides that these folks want to deal! Talk about misreading the mood of the times! Well, Israel isn’t interested in dealing. They’re only interested in getting what they want, particularly since Obama will give it to them before negotiations ever start. Same with Republicans, health insurance companies, the military, banks, and other financial firms.
    Simply put, Obama’s behavior rewards intransigence. And now that everyone has Obama’s number (except fellow Democrats), you can expect more intransigence. If you could look behind the scenes, Obama is most likely seen, not as clueless, but as a laughing stock. Even some of the less dimwitted Democrats have figured this out and have even had the audacity to float the trial balloon of being intransigent themselves.
    As for Iran, here it is clear that Obama actually stands for something–whatever his predecessor stood for! But contrary to his knee jerk response, Obama meekly defers to the foreign policy mob, and refuses to give Iran whatever they want. Instead, he gives them nothing they might want–all sticks and absolutely no carrots, ever.
    For all his impressive Ivy League legal training, Obama seems to have totally missed any courses or experience that dealt with how to plea bargain, negotiate, or exercise power.

    Reply

  22. jdledell says:

    wigwag – You make some valid points about the domestic American position regarding Israel. I agree it makes it difficult for Obama or most politicians to stand up to Israel.
    Nonetheless, the rest of the world is moving on and I foresee a critical mass of countries supporting Palestinian statehood on the 67 lines. I suspect a UNGA resolution will quickly follow. This in itself will not change facts on the ground but I suspect that repeated referrals to the UNSC for statehood will eventually come to pass after numerous US vetos.
    I believe the BDS movement will slowly grow as settlements expand and it’s just the US, Israel and Micronesia against the rest of the world. I believe by 2020 Palestine will be a reality and that Israel in holding out so long will be hollowed out and no longer the vibrant country it has been in the past.
    I spend several months a year in Israel and can see the undercurrent of insecurity that is leading to a false bravado. When the world turns on Israel we have to remember it’s a small country of 7+ million people. Economically it cannot hold out against a tide of ill will.
    Israel cannot keep poking sticks in the eyes of the rest of the world. One of these days it could find itself in DEEP TROUBLE that even with the US trying to come to the rescue could become a shattered nation. It does not deserve the arrogance it ascribes to itself.

    Reply

  23. varanasi says:

    i just linked to this post from the Daily Dish and i’m amused to see
    that nothing has changed here in all the time that i’ve been away
    (at least a year?).
    POA is still hyperventilating, accusing others of dual loyalties and
    using the word “mewling.” classic.
    good post though, steve.

    Reply

  24. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Steve, in all my endeavors, both work and play, I have found it is impossible to instill courage in a coward. You are asking something from Obama that he is incapable of delivering.
    Name one policy or legislative agenda this posturing cowardly piece of shit has shown conviction or courage in pursuing.
    I see Wig-wag is back. It is truly eye opening to see a supposed American citizen expressing glee at seeing the President of the United states humiliated and insulted by a foreign leader. Well, its not as if there was any doubts where Wig-wag’s loyalties lie, and what nation’s “interests” trump our own in Wig-wag’s skewed and twisted idea of “patriotism”. But being “patriotic” to one one nation, while living in another, can easily be seen as treason rather than patriotism, if the interests of the two nations collide. And there is no arguing that our unquestioning support of all things Israel is not a self destructive policy.
    However, Steve, as much as I loath Barack Obama for his cowardice and appeasment of the right, I think it is unfair of you to criticize his cowardice in regards to Israel without mentioning the legions of Democrats that seek to undermine his efforts at bringing the Israelis to heel. Clinton, Schumer, Hoyer, Reid, Wasserman, oh man, I could go on and on. What is he to do, even if he did have some backbone attached to a set of balls? Even with courage, he would have a huge mountain to climb in DC within his own party, before he even got to the stage of earnestly working to go toe to toe with the arrogant piece of shit Netanyahu. But the sad truth is he is a spineless incompetent, so ANY mountain is too high for him to scale. Netanyahu is simply waaaay out of Obama’s league when it comes to forcing an issue. Obama will lose everytime.
    I sure wish the spineless mewling wuss would quit whining about how much we don’t appreciate what he has “accomplished”. Fuck ‘im, he’s a one term embarrassment that will set the progressive movement back decades. I still maintain that he may even be a ringer. If not, he might just as well be.

    Reply

  25. Kathleen Grasso Andersen says:

    So glad to see you writing “Palestine-Isreal” rather than the usual, Israel-Palestine…the subliminal message of Israel first, always, needs to be shaken.
    I don’t understand why there is such a mystery about what to do in this situation…the whole world agrees that the 1967 borders should be honored…get with the program, Obama… Get to Netayahu through his wallet…he can’t afford his policies on his own.
    When I spoke with Richard Falk a year ago, asked him if an on-line petition, insisiting that Israel honor the 1967 borders would help and he said Yes…someone with clout should do it.
    With Israel inviting Jews from all, over the world to come live there, while denying Palestiians the right to return, this new policy seems especially offensive…
    ttp://www.haaretz.com/news/national/top-rabbis-move-to-forbid-renting-homes-to-arabs-say-racism-originated-in-the-torah-1.329327

    Reply

  26. DonS says:

    Once again Wig wag trots out the tired, tired propaganda piece that the American ‘street’ is gung ho to support Israel to the detriment of US foreign policy interests when those interests have never be explained outside of the “poor Israel” noise machine.
    I don’t discount that potion of the Jewish electorate that gravitates toward the Likudist view, and is summarily intimidated by the radical zionist advocates. And I don’t discount the faction of American christianists that has been neatly coopted by bible thumping big mouth televangelists with their hand out for ‘contributions’ at every turn.
    But I for one am anything but ready to attribute the American street with prescient knowledge of the ins and outs of ME policy. The megaphone that distributes the message about that policy is hand in glove with the politics that creates it and, oh so incidentally, juxtaposes the brave Israelis against the nefarious Muslims and Arabs.
    Wig wag and her like count on the continued success of zionist propaganda to produce politicians who favor their positions, and reify the so-called argument that Americans are pro zionist, since most American wouldn’t know a zionist from an Israeli if asked. So it’s an up hill battle. It’s not the first time that policies that are destructive for America continually triumph over sanity. One can only hope the game changes before Israel and it’s American enablers push the envelope too far.
    Finally, Wig wag uses the ubiquitous phrase that [presumably Steve] has failed because “you’ve failed to convince the American people”. Does this imply Wig wag knows there is a sound argument to be made against zionist propaganda? Nevermind. The implication is clear enough, but totally speculative. I’ve worked and dealt with segments of “the American people” in situations Wig wag couldn’t even imagine, and with ideas anathema to their conditioning. One would be surprised what ordinary folks are capable of ‘understanding’ if explained rationally and in an intelligent manner. That, of course, is the exact opposite of the propaganda approach that the wig wag’s and zionist enablers count on to keep the American sheep, er, people, ‘informed’.

    Reply

  27. Concerned Citizen says:

    Couldn’t you make this same argument about health care and
    most initiatives in the Obama administration? Where has Obama
    put his own imprint, invested his own stature and and lain “out
    his own parameters and vision for what the outlines of a final
    deal should look like” on anything — and then taken the case to
    the people to aggressively push it through — except for during
    the initial campaign that got him elected?
    Hasn’t the usual style been to just tell people to bring him a plan
    and then well talk about it? That is what got us the healthcare
    plan which as far as I can tell noone understands.
    That is the real tragedy here. I agree that there is time to turn
    this around and not only show some success in terms of Israel
    (frankly though that is a bit difficult) but on a whole range of
    economic and other concerns.
    Time is a wasting people!

    Reply

  28. WigWag says:

    “Zbigniew Brzezinski, Brent Scowcroft, and other very wise foreign policy practitioners from America’s higher stakes Cold War past recommended to President Obama that he lay out his own parameters and vision for what the outlines of a final deal should look like…” (Steve Clemons)
    Steve, it was just a few short months ago that you were telling us how Senator Schumer was jeopardizing his place in the Democratic leadership by criticizing President Obama’s policies on the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. Now Schumer’s supplanted Dick Durban and is firmly ensconced as the number two man in the Democratic leadership in the Senate. There is very little debate anymore that he’s the Democrat almost certain to replace Harry Reid when Reid retires.
    Despite the fact that the Democrats selected the clueless Patty Murray to chair the DSCC, does anyone doubt that most of the heavy lifting in terms of fundraising for Democratic Senatorial candidates is going to have to be done by Schumer?
    With Schumer at the pinnacle of the Democratic leadership; with his critical role in fundraising and with the vital role that he will play in helping the President navigate a Senate where the Democrats have a tiny majority, how likely do you think it is that the President will choose to antagonize Senator Schumer by following the advice of Zbig Brzezinski or Brent Scowcroft.
    It doesn’t sound too likely to me.

    Reply

  29. Warren Metzler says:

    I have to disagree with Steve. I propose that the only way the Palestinians will get a state is to first sufficiently develop as a people that they create a government that isn’t made up of egotistical idiots. Once they become unified, conquer their current violent and internecine fighting, and act as if they are capable of governing themselves, then they will develop a non-violent and comprehensive strategy of dealing with Israel that progressively gets more and more of the world’s major governments on board (and not just the citizens of the world). This will progressively create a situation like in South Africa. And eventually Israel will cave.
    Zionists, who will always be the Israeli government, are genetic orientated to a greater Israel, which includes current Israel, the Golan Heights, parts of Jordon, the West Bank, and parts of Lebanon. And they will NEVER abandon that approach. While at the same time repeatedly lying about their willingness to have two states. They are willing to have two states, as long as Palestine is located somewhere outside of greater Israel.
    Another thing, the Palestinians need to do is reach out to Evangelical and Fundamentalist Christians, most of whom support Israel because their leaders repeatedly lie to their congregants; reach out, as in visit as many congregations as they can, asking to speak to the congregation. Christianity, even the Evangelical and Fundamentalist versions, perceive peace, communication and the golden rule as the essence of Christianity; far more important then end times theories. And if they were clearly informed of the draconian ways Israel treats its Arab citizens and the Palestinian in the occupied territories, I predict you would see a rapid decline for support of Israel in the “religious right”.
    I wouldn’t trust any assessment of Bill Clinton. He, like his successor Bush, lies so frequently, I don’t think they are capable of ever telling the truth.
    Finally, no foreign country can free a native people; even a country as powerful and influential as the US. All successful freedom movements must be home-grown.
    Even as the American Jewish community becomes more informed about Israel’s true behaviors toward the Palestinians, they are willing to recognize the current situation can’t continue.
    So the US ought to put its efforts into programs that simulate the Palestinians to develop autonomy and mature individuality, and stop acting as if there is a plan they could construct that would alter Israel’s sixty year plus behaviors.

    Reply

  30. WigWag says:

    “Khrushchev, Oops, I mean Netanyahu has yet again thrown eggs in the face of President Obama, humiliated him and his team — including Hillary Clinton and Dennis Ross who helped craft the plan to bribe Israel with military aid.” (Steve Clemons)
    I think what you’re missing Steve is that watching the humiliation of President Obama is merely the icing on the cake. I do think you’re right that he has been humiliated; but to be fair to Prime Minister Netanyahu you have to admit that everyone’s getting in on the fun; Obama’s been embarrassed by the Israelis, by the Turks, by the Iranians, by the South Koreans, by the G-20 by Senator Kyl about the START Treaty, by the Chinese (about currency revaluation and North Korea), by the left of his own party and by the new Republican leadership in Congress about the Bush tax cuts.
    Of course his biggest humiliation was handed to him by the American electorate just a few short weeks ago.
    As for the deal that Hillary Clinton made with Prime Minister Netanyahu last month that the Americans refused to put in writing; I think you have it exactly backwards. You and others have claimed that it was ridiculous to grant so many benefits to Netanyahu for such a short pause in settlement building on the West Bank. But now Netanyahu’s likely to get everything in the package proposed by Clinton without giving up anything at all.
    Do you doubt that Israel won’t get those 20 extra F-35s? As we get closer to the 2012 election, won’t Majority Leader Cantor be happily willing to provide them for nothing in return at all? Or once Congress begins to scrutinize the recent Saudi arms deal and once AIPAC starts agitating about it, do you doubt that the delivery of the extra stealth jets won’t be the price for Israel’s support of the deal? As Iran gets closer to the ability to develop nuclear weapons, do you doubt that the price that Israel extracts for restraining its instinct to attack won’t be the delivery of these jets which can be outfitted with nuclear tipped missiles?
    As for other components of the deal; do you really think that Obama is going to fail to veto Security Council resolutions critical of Israel? In 2012 the Democrats have 23 Senators up for reelection; the Republicans have 10. Exactly how likely do you think it is that Obama is going to infuriate the pro-Israel community by voting in favor of, or abstaining from, Security Council resolutions that Israel objects to?
    I really find it ironic that you and so many other foreign policy gurus spend so much time touting the importance of the “Arab Street.” You never tire of telling us how the actions of the Sunni Arab despots are constrained, for example in advocating an attack on Iran, by the sentiments of their citizens. Has it occurred to you that the reason that President Obama doesn’t take any of the actions that you advocate is because he’s constrained by an “American street?”
    Don’t you think it’s just possible that the head of a democratic nation like the United States, is even more incentivized to follow the dictates of American citizens then the presidents or kings of a despotic regimes are?
    President Obama and his political party have to face the voters in two short years after one of the worst electoral defeats in modern history. If he wants to be reelected, Obama needs to win in places like Florida and Pennsylvania. How popular do you think he’s going to be amongst Jewish and Christian supporters of Israel if he follows the suggestions you are making?
    I think that you missing a key reason why your views on the Middle East never prevail; it’s not just that you’ve failed to convince the Obama Administration that your strategy is wise; it’s that you’ve failed to convince the American people. It’s not that you haven’t tried; you have. But you’ve failed.
    That’s why the Israelis can be confident that they’ll get all those presents on the Christmas list but they won’t have to give any of their own to President Ebenezer Scrooge, I mean, Obama.
    Because of his stupid policy of emphasizing settlements, the peace talks have failed (again). Have you noticed that the Israelis and the Palestinians couldn’t care less?
    It’s only our humiliated, clueless President who can’t get into the holiday spirit.

    Reply

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