Saturday, November 07, 2009

More Thoughts on the Middle East

More Thoughts on the Middle East
©2009 David Talbot

There is an old expression, “No good deed goes unpunished!” I can’t remember the last time I heard it, but I thought about it this week as US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised Israeli PM Netanyahu’s concession on settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Her praise was not for what it lacked (a complete freeze) but for the easing of the Israeli position. In other words, it was a start.

Of course, any praise of Israel, no matter how feint, is cause for an immediate knee jerk reaction by the Arab world. The outcry was so great that Secretary Clinton had to “explain” her comments at her next stop in Morocco.

Unfortunately, any progress in the Arab world by President Obama’s apology tour and pronunciation that America is not a Christian nation has been squandered. The current perception in the Arab world, as seen on all the news channels last week, is that the USA has done a flip and is now back to it’s unilateral support of Israel.

Meanwhile, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, has signaled that he is not going to run for office because of the impasse in peace negotiations. Peace negotiations for the Palestinian leadership means: either the Israeli’s give in to all it’s demands, or we won’t come to the table.

The situation for the United states in the Middle East is not unique. We do not have a clearly formulated policy, that reflects our position on the goal of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. In fact, we do not have a clearly formulated policy on North Korea, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Russia, or any other situation on earth. This lack of a cohesive foreign policy emboldens our enemies and confuses our friends.

We jump on Israel for defending themselves. Yet, we have not figured out how to deal with the unstable governments in Pyongyang and Tehran who are not only actively building nuclear armament facilities, but are also the main suppliers of terrorists around the world. Just this week Israel intercepted an Iranian vessel carrying tons of munitions to those “peaceful” Hezbollah terrorists.

If the Obama administration in Washington does not get it’s foreign policy act together, and soon, the next 3 years will be very dangerous for us, at home and abroad. At some point, the powder keg will be ignited by our only ally in the Middle East, Israel, for it’s own survival. Even Israel has come to understand: with friends like us, who needs enemies?

Anyway, that’s my opinion.

Next Week: Why do Jewish Holidays fall on different days every year?

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