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Contentions

The Wrecking Crew

In yet another “My, how they messed it all up!” assessment of the Obami’s Middle East peace efforts, the Washington Post finds consensus: “the administration’s efforts have faltered in part because of its own missteps.” The reviews are in and they’re not pretty:

Daniel Levy, a veteran Israeli peace negotiator now at the Century Foundation in Washington, summed up the administration’s efforts in recent days as “amateur night at the Apollo Theater.” He said the administration did not game out the consequences of its demands on the parties — and then flinched. “They just dug deeper and deeper their own grave,” he said. “All of this talk of negotiations doesn’t cut the mustard in the region.”

Turns out, just as conservative critics argued, the key error was in adopting the Palestinian bargaining gambit as our own — namely, insisting on an unattainable absolute freeze on settlements. This of course encouraged Palestinian intransigence and Israeli mistrust. The amateur show reached its climax as Hillary Clinton, like a flighty teenager, first praised Israeli concessions as unprecedented and then rushed to soothe the scorned Palestinians, assuring them that the absolute settlement freeze was still the U.S.’s aim.

As they were knocking over the furniture, the Obami felt compelled to deny the Bush-era agreement with Israel for reduced settlement activity. Rather than spruce that up with a bit of self-serving rhetoric and garner some credit for advancing the “peace process,” the Obama brain trust embarked on its fruitless quest for a settlement freeze, ultimately alienating both sides. As Elliott Abrams, George W. Bush’s deputy national security adviser, observed, “We had nine months of nonsense.” The Obami have earned the contempt of both sides and left the parties so estranged that face-to-face talks may no longer be in the offing.

This is the “smart diplomacy” set. This is Middle East strategy brought to us by Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod, the sage gurus of international diplomacy who we are told egged Obama on and figured they might outfox Bibi Netanyahu or, better yet, orchestrate his downfall. For this they give the Nobel Peace Prize.

In many administrations, heads would roll. You’d see a shake-up of the advisers who presided over this debacle. But so sign of that yet. Emanuel and Axelrod have moved on to running the Afghanistan war, Clinton is “reasserting herself,” George Mitchell is racking up the frequent-flyer miles, and James Jones is doing whatever it is James Jones does. Should the mainstream American Jewish community be pleased with this display? Well, they’ve gone a bit mute, perhaps abiding by the advice that if you have nothing nice to say, better to be quiet. Nevertheless, those who vouched for the Obami’s brains and Zionist credentials were, we now know, duped.

As for the country as a whole and our allies, it is a sobering sight — the full extent of the Obami’s incompetence and arrogance and the results of both, that is. For those hoping to “restore America’s place in the world,” it’s about time to realize that our standing, at least in the Middle East, has never been lower. And let’s not forget: the same underachievers are supposed to be devising an Afghanistan-war plan and working to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran. Do you feel safer yet?


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