Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Obama's Foolish Consistency In His Dealing With Iran And Israel

In the Washington Post, Robert Kagan examines why Obama is siding with the Iranian regime:
Whatever his personal sympathies may be, if he is intent on sticking to his original strategy, then he can have no interest in helping the opposition. His strategy toward Iran places him objectively on the side of the government's efforts to return to normalcy as quickly as possible, not in league with the opposition's efforts to prolong the crisis.

It's not that Obama preferred a victory by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He probably would have been happy to do business with Mir Hossein Mousavi, even if there was little reason to believe Mousavi would have pursued a different approach to the nuclear issue. But once Mousavi lost, however fairly or unfairly, Obama objectively had no use for him or his followers. If Obama appears to lend support to the Iranian opposition in any way, he will appear hostile to the regime, which is precisely what he hoped to avoid. [emphasis added]
Bottom line, Obama wants normalcy (ie quiet) in the region as opposed to crisis. That is all well and good--but the issue is who has to be sacrificed in order to make that happen. In order to have some semblance of normalcy in Iran, Obama prefers Ahmadinejad. Supporting the opposition with just extend the tension.

That seems to be Obama's 'enlightened' view of the Israel-Palestinian conflict as well. Bottom line, Obama wants some degree of normalcy (ie quiet) there as well. The most efficient way of doing that is to sacrifice Israel's interests (if not Israel itself) in order to make that happen. For Obama, siding with Israel will only extend the tension--the Palestinians, with the backing of the Arab countries, will continue the crisis indefinitely. Obama wants normalcy with those Arab countries and is willing to follow their lead, even going so far as to back the Saudi Initiative. But Israel can be pressured--in the interests of the region as a whole, naturally.

Obama's reaction to both the opposition in Iran and on Israel reflect the single goal of quiet in the area. That policy results is something of a contradiction, as Michael Ledeen points out:
The president says he doesn't want to "meddle." Aside from the fact that he unhesitatingly meddles in Israel, how can any American remain aloof from this sort of thing?
Or as J.G. Thayer puts it:
Thus far, it seems that the guiding principle of this administration is summed up in a single, concise phrase: “Treat your enemies like friends, and your friends like enemies.” It’s doubtful the plan was envisioned as such, but that is the impression they’re giving so far.
Obama is just going with whatever works.

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