Monday, March 30, 2009

Will Obama Apply The Same Kind Of Pressure On Israel As He Did On GM?

J.G. Thayer writes about the consequences of being beholden to the US government:

When the Godfather helps you out, you owe the Godfather. And you’d better comply when the favor is called in. That appears to be the model the Obama administration is following when it comes to companies that accept federal bailout money — and, in one case, the “favors” owed are being called in.

General Motors accepted $9.4 billion dollars in bailout money, and has a request pending for another $16.6 billion. The latter hasn’t been granted, but we now see some indication of the unwritten price for those loans.

First up, the obligatory human sacrifice.

That sacrifice of course is GM CEO Rick Wagoner. This is a domestic case--what about an international one? Just how much influence does Obama think he has, and how much obedience is due, based on the US support of Israel? If Obama seriously believes that the path to peace--both in the Middle East and beyond--goes through Israel, who knows what kind of pressure he will be willing to apply.

The same Obama who in November denied any interest in backing the Saudi peace plan, but by January

called on Arab governments to “act on” the promise of a Saudi-led 2002 Arab peace initiative by supporting the Palestinian Authority headed by President Mahmoud Abbas “taking steps towards normalising relations with Israel, and by standing up to extremism that threatens us all.”

Shmuel Rosner notes that the Saudis are now pressing the US to apply pressure on Israel:

If the US wants to continue playing a leadership role in the Middle East and keep its strategic alliances intact - especially its “special relationship” with Saudi Arabia — it will have to drastically revise its policies vis a vis Israel and Palestine.

...The peace initiative being proposed today will not be on offer for a long time. Arab commitment to this initiative is dependent on Israeli acceptance.

Will Obama press Israel to accept the Saudi initiative?

Back in 1982, Menachem Begin responded to the threat of a cut in US aid this way:

Do you think that because the US lends us money it is entitled to impose on us what we must do? We are grateful for the assistance we have received, but we are not to be threatened. I am a proud Jew. Three thousand years of culture are behind me, and you will not frighten me with threats.

Netanyahu has a tough act to follow.

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