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Thursday, August 04, 2011

Obama: Comparing Debt Ceiling Dispute With Middle East Policy



By Michael Young


We can learn a great deal about President Barack Obama’s approach to the Middle East in the contentious way that he handed the recent debt ceiling dispute with the U.S. Congress.

Earlier this year the administration warned Congress that the debt ceiling would be breached by August. Some weeks ago Obama entered into negotiations with congressional Republicans over a debt reduction package that would include raising taxes and slashing spending. Republicans rejected a tax increase and broke off talks, leaving Obama in limbo. The president then stood back and watched as Congress tried to devise a solution, reinserting himself into the process when this failed, fearing that a default would harm his re-election prospects. Ultimately, he brokered a deal that conceded quite a bit to the Republicans, angering many among his Democratic base.

Transpose those lessons to Obama’s actions today on a variety of Middle Eastern issues, and a pattern emerges.
What we have is a president with undeniable intelligence, but without particularly strong convictions, whose preference for standing away from the fray often allows his political rivals to outmaneuver him, and who will raise expectations then come up short in carrying through on them. Obama is an opportunist ill adept at creating opportunities.

For instance, the president made many promises on the Palestinian-Israeli track during his election campaign and afterward, but never worked hard to finalize a solution.
Continue Reading Give Obama an ‘F’ in the Middle East

I'm not sure I agree with Young completely. Obama did get Netanyahu to make the initial settlement freeze. I'm more incline to think that once it was clear that Obama would not pressure Abbas, Netanyahu (and the leaders in other countries) saw that they could stonewall Obama and ignore his threats.

So which came first, lack of respect for Obama--or list lack of a plan?

At this point, it hardly matters.
Events in the Middle East are proceeding without him.

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Hat tip: Challah Hu Akbar
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