President Obama’s trip will, if nothing else, provide confirmation of a number of conservative critics’ observations of his administration, most of which his media flunkies have denied for over four years.
1. Israeli-U.S. relations were abysmal in the first term. Recall how the administration called all such insights overblown and off the mark. With an entire trip designed to repair the damage even MSNBC hosts can admit the obvious.
2. The Cairo speech was a disaster. Liberals swooned that it was pure genius, declaring it to be a breakthrough in Middle East relations and a high-water mark in presidential oratory. But as soon as he got off the plane President Obama started providing edits, most especially in dispelling the impression he created that Jews’ claim to a state in the land of Israel were based on the Holocaust. A great deal of his speech today was a step by step effort to correct the Cairo speech and cure its omissions on everything from Israel’s past efforts at peace processing to its efforts to trade land for peace. If you recall, he infuriated pro-Israel supporters in his Cairo speech by comparing Palestinians to oppressed African Americans (obviously making Israel into the villain); today he proclaimed, “To African-Americans, the story of the Exodus told a powerful tale about emerging from the grip of bondage to reach for liberty and human dignity – a tale that was carried from slavery through the civil rights movement.”
3. The president’s fixation on settlements was wrong and unhelpful. Today he sounded like his critics in saying focus on settlements was akin to putting “the cart before the horse.”
4. We are not and have never been “really close” to peace. Legions of Clinton advisers and Obama supporters have made this claim for years. It is not true and neither is the notion that “everyone knows where the deal is.” As Obama’s new mantra, he has adopted the phrase that this is “really hard.” Yes, the mere mortal presidents who preceded him knew that all too well.
5. The U.S. has no other democratic reliable ally other than Israel in the Middle East. And it will not for some time. Jordan’s King Abdullah II blew the whistle on the Obama team’s naiveté concerning the Muslim Brotherhood. No Arab Spring country is a reliable ally with shared values. In fact the only one with whom we have compatible interests and good relations are two monarchies (Morocco and Jordan) which have presumed gradual internal change. In short, it makes no sense to put “daylight” between the United States and Israel.
6. “Linkage” is a farce. Israel is not at the center of the region’s problems; jihadism and the Revolutionary Islamist state of Iran are. Every problem that is immediate and urgent (Syria, Iran’s nuclear threat, Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood regime, Hamas) flow from that nexus.
7. Obama’s diplomacy and sanctions have failed to stop Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Economic ruin does not equate with cessation of Iran’s nuclear program, and Israel and the United States, as Netanyahu explained, are on the same page as to the continued progress of Iran’s nuclear weapons progress. In his speech today he did not even claim that sanctions are “working.” Instead he argued, ” Its economy is in a dire condition. Its leadership is divided.”
8. Leading from behind in Syria has been a catastrophic error. This is apparent, given Syria’s prominence in the U.S. and Israeli leaders’ discussion and the heightened concern about chemical weapons. The U.S. failure to act early and decisively has led to a regional disaster and horrific humanitarian suffering in Syria, while jihadists now flood into the country. A decade of war is not “ending.”