I know Brzezinski he's not one of my key advisors. I've had lunch with him once, I've exchanged emails with him maybe 3 times...I do not share his views with respect to Israel. I have said so clearly and unequivocally.
Obama, February 25, 2008
On Friday, Laura Rozen wrote on Politico:
Reports in The Washington Post and The New York Times this week said former U.S. national security advisers Brent Scowcroft, Zbigniew Brzezinski and Sandy Berger met with Jones in the White House last month and recommended that the U.S. advance stalled peace talks by proposing its own peace proposal. President Barack Obama attended part of the meeting and listened to the proposal, the reports said.Now it looks like Mr. Brzezinski has decided to launch a trial balloon on Obama's behalf in an opinion piece, written with Stephen Solarz, appearing in today's Washington Post: To achieve Mideast peace, Obama must make a bold Mideast trip.
But there is something jarring in how Brzezinski and Solarz undercut their own position.
They present as their central thesis:
Only a bold and dramatic gesture in a historically significant setting can generate the political and psychological momentum needed for a major breakthrough. Anwar Sadat's courageous journey to Jerusalem three decades ago accomplished just that, paving the way for the Camp David accords between Israel and Egypt.only to demonstrate how badly lacking the Arab world is today by comparison:
Similarly, President Obama should travel to the Knesset in Jerusalem and the Palestinian Legislative Council in Ramallah to call upon both sides to negotiate a final status agreement based on a specific framework for peace. He should do so in the company of Arab leaders and members of the Quartet, the diplomatic grouping of the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations that is involved in the peace process. A subsequent speech by Obama in Jerusalem's Old City, addressed to all the people in the region and evocative of his Cairo speech to the Muslim world in June 2009, could be the culminating event in this journey for peace.Throughout his entire op-ed, Brzezinski does not mention Abbas--not even once. Instead, it is Obama who is supposed to play the part of Sadat. The Palestinian Arabs are relieved of the responsibility of negotiating. And Obama is not coming alone, as Sadat did. Instead, just to make sure Israel gets the message--the Quartet is coming along too, along with Arab leaders.
The point of Obama's appearance is obvious:
Such an effort would play to Obama's strengths: He personalizes politics and seeks to exploit rhetoric and dramatic settings to shatter impasses, project a compelling vision of the future and infuse confidence in his audience.That's right, Obama will be there because he is a great speaker, though why that should be more helpful in pushing peace than it was in pushing ObamaCare--which in the end required equal amounts of arm-twisting and bargaining--is not clear.
In fact, after mentioning what is in it for Israeli's and Palestinians, Brzezinski humbly adds what this trip would mean to Obama as well:
Finally, for Obama himself, such a move would be a diplomatic and political triumph. Bringing Arab leaders and the Quartet with him to Jerusalem and Ramallah to endorse his plan would be seen as a powerful example of leadership in coping with the protracted conflict. Since it is inconceivable that the Israeli government would refuse Obama's offer to bring Arab leaders and the Quartet to its capital, most of the American friends of Israel could be expected to welcome the move as well.Obama could use a win. Consider the beating Obama's image has taken on the international stage and especially in the Middle East--with Walid Jumblatt (whose father was murdered by Hafez al-Assad) visiting the son of the man he called a “monkey, snake and a butcher.” If the US was perceived as committed to its allies in the Mideast, Jumblatt would not see the need for such a move, but with Iran not just rejecting US overtures, but ridiculing them, the Arab world is losing confidence in Obama. Obama's abuse of allies does not help either.
Brzezinski closes with unnamed polls that Israelis prefer "peace without all of Jerusalem than a united Jerusalem without peace" and that "the majority of Palestinians favor a two-state solution"--no mention of the Jerusalem Post poll that only 9% of Israelis believe Obama is pro-Israel and that the Haaretz poll that claimed that most Israelis thought Obama was "fair and friendly" towards Israel was actually manipulated to make Obama look good.
Brzezinski and Solarz may believe they have presented a strong case for Obama's move to dictate the terms of peace, but in reality all they have succeeded in doing is inviting a telling contrast between the leadership and sacrifices made 30 years ago and the political machinations of today.
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