Thursday, April 30, 2009

Obama And Israel: Imitating Bush 41?

After initial hits by Scud missiles, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir hesitantly refused any retaliating measures against Iraq, due to increasing pressure from the United States to remain out of the conflict. The US government was concerned that any Israeli action would cost them allies and escalate the conflict, and an air strike by the IAF would have required overflying hostile Jordan or Syria, which could have provoked them to enter the war on Iraq's side or to attack Israel.
Wikipedia, on The First Gulf War
The First Gulf War was probably the first and most visible example of the US telling Israel to sacrifice in order not to upset US relations with the Muslim world. Israelis died as a result.

Now, once again, Obama apparently finds that Israel is an impediment to engaging with the Muslim world.

Arutz Sheva reports:
According to a classified intelligence assessment handed to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, U.S. President Barack Obama and his senior advisors wish to “incrementally diminish U.S. strategic cooperation with Israel.”

A report in World Tribune quoted an Israeli source familiar with the intelligence assessment who said that "Obama wants to make friends with our worst enemies and [those who were] until now the worst enemies of the United States. Under this policy,” the source added, “we are more than irrelevant. We have become an obstacle.”
[Note: the report by the World Tribune has thus far not been corroborated by other news sources]

Apparently, Israel is not the only obstacle to the Muslim world accepting the US and Obama--there is only one other thing:
Meanwhile, Syrian President Bashar Assad said Tuesday that Obama would face “a serious crisis in the Middle East” if he does not fix the mistakes made by his predecessor George W. Bush, within a year’s time.

On a visit to Vienna after meeting Austrian leaders and intellectuals, Assad called on the U.S. to rapidly withdraw its troops from Iraq. This, he claimed, would resolve "50 per cent of the problem," Austrian news agency APA reported. [emphasis added]
I assume that Israel makes up the other 50%.

Of course, the Arab world in general is wary of Iran, which is working to increase its influence--so that ironically a number of Arab countries feel themselves in the same boat as Israel, wondering to what extent Obama's overtures to Iran are going to undercut their own security interests.

In Just The Beginning, Michael Rubin analyzes Obama's new policy in the Middle East, and the belief system beneath it:
There is an unfortunate dynamic in Washington in which new administrations fault predecessors rather than adversaries for failure to engage productively. No matter what their preconceptions before entering the Oval Office, however, all presidents discover they are powerless to resolve differences with Tehran when Iran's leadership does not desire it...And while journalists and academics applaud Obama's overtures, they too often ignore the Iranian response, for example Khamenei's Apr. 15, 2009 speech at Imam Hossein University where he declared, "The recommendation to return to the global order is the same as capitulating to the bullying powers and accepting the unjust world order."
Today, it is not just that Obama faults predecessors instead of adversaries--he seems to fault allies as well.

Today in an opinion piece, 100 Days: 'Harry, I Have a Gift', Daniel Henninger writes about Obama's confidence in his oratorical gifts. But the gift Henninger describes is the ability to make all sides believe that Obama agrees with them--not that Obama is persuasive per se. 

We've seen that the former has worked very well for Obama in maintaining his popularity.
What we have yet to see is whether Obama's particular brand of charisma will work overseas.

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