19 May

Obama Mideast speech will be a tangled web woven for campaign spin

                                       

Mata Post Speech Update: Long ado about nothing…
devoid of substance, empty on specifics, zip plan of action/commitment.
45 min of free press for campaign purposes, IMHO

It’s another day, and yet another Obama speech. The campaign season has kicked off, and a POTUS, laboring under the ineffectiveness of his own economic policies, and a sketchy history of foreign policy calls, is planning on mustering his full orative skills to redefine history and paint a rosy face on what many call the “Arab spring”.

As is central to just about every POTUS in recent history, Israeli-Palestine lies in the forefront. But despite Netanyahu’s willingness to resume talks just months after Obama’s inaugural, 2009 brought not even a blip of success. That same year proved Obama’s hope that Iran would be receptive also fell flat on it’s face. Come fall of 2010…. Netanyahu and Abbas show up at the WH. Despite Obama warnings that, paraphrased (and with apologies to Seals & Croft), “we may never pass this way again”, the negotiations yield nothing. Come campaign season, and this POTUS at least needs to look like an effort has been made… especially after all the posturing about those “democratic uprisings”.

The reality is that the words and events are merely a sideshow, and the peace process is more unlikely to go any where than at any time in our recent past. What both nations envision as a “two-state” solution are worlds apart. Steven Walk at the Foreign Policy Magazine seems to believe this is because Obama refuses to put pressure on Israel, and only focuses on twisting Abbas’ arm. This seems a naive observation, considering this admin’s constant cold shoulder to the US’s greatest ally in the Middle East, and their policy that demands Israel cease all settlement activity.

But if Obama happened to be perusing the Foreign Policy article, it seems that he might have been listening and intends to further play hardball with Israel in his comments later today. According to Yedioth Ahronoth, Obama intends to tell Israel to withdraw to pre 1967 boundaries, and renegotiate new territorial adjustments with the Palestinian National Authority.

On the other hand, the NY Times says Obama is undecided on his position for Israel.

Officials said Mr. Obama was weighing whether to formally endorse Israel’s pre-1967 borders as the starting point for negotiations over a Palestinian state — a move that would be less a policy shift than a signal by the United States that it expected Israel to make concessions in pursuit of an agreement.

But several officials said the president did not plan to present an American blueprint for breaking the stalemate between the Israelis and Palestinians. In the absence of that, experts said, there is little he can do to draw the two sides closer, especially since the Arab upheaval has deepened the rift between them.

Mr. Obama has been grappling for a more coherent response to the violent crackdowns in Bahrain, Syria and Yemen and may use the opportunity to increase the pressure on Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said stiffer sanctions against the Assad government could be imposed in the coming days.

Right….. like Israeli withdrawal is going to happen. Maybe Obama was happily ensconced in junior IL Senator dreams in 2000, but Bebe is astutely aware that the Israel offer to redefine borders went no where in the Camp David talks between 2000 Arafat and Israel PM Barak. New day, new leaders, same attitudes.

In fact, as the NYT’s notes above, this pipedream for peace is even more unlikely with each ME chaotic uprising. One by one, the nations surrounding Israel are undergoing change. And as a Spiegel article today notes, that supposed move to democracy is not only not happening, but is either stalled, or in the process of a failed revolution.

Revolutions Can Fail

It becomes even more difficult when many ordinary citizens turn against the revolution, as has been the case in Tunisia and Egypt, as well as Yemen and Oman. As it turns out, it isn’t just the elites most closely associated with autocratic leaders who fear for their benefits, privileges and positions. These fears are also shared by the thousands upon thousands involved in the bloated apparatus of political parties and governments. And the lower their position and income, the more desperately they sometimes cling to the traditional system, particularly because ordinary public servants were not able to line their pockets and open Swiss bank accounts.

The Arab revolution has come to a standstill, and all signs point to a restoration of the status quo. The new Arab world has reached a point at which many revolutionaries are worn out and those who are still in power refuse to give up control. Influenced by the images of celebration from Tunis, Benghazi and Cairo, many apparently forgot that revolutions could also fail.

What succeeded in Central and Eastern Europe 20 years ago is not necessarily destined to repeat itself in the Middle East. The Tunisians and Egyptians have undoubtedly made history, but the regimes in the countries to which their revolutionary virus has spread now have no intention of allowing their governments to implode.

The first act in the revolutionary drama in the Arab world ended when Libyan Colonel Gadhafi refused to go into exile, like Tunisia’s former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, or to retire, like Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak, instead ordering his thugs to shoot at his own people. Gadhafi’s stubbornness has emboldened many autocrats. If the Libyan dictator had followed in former Tunisian President Ben Ali’s footsteps and stepped down, there would be no tanks in the streets or people being herded into football stadiums in Syria.

Even Egypt’s revolutionary hero, Mohamed ElBaradei, notes that the nation’s situation is going from bad to worse.

The situation in Cairo is currently changing “from bad to even worse,” warns the Egyptian Nobel laureate and possible presidential candidate Mohamed ElBaradei. “I’m more concerned about the Salafists than the Muslim Brotherhood.” It was Salafists, members of a fundamentalist movement that invokes what it calls the original Islam, who assassinated former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in 1981. They dream of the Middle Ages, demand the reintroduction of a special tax for non-Muslims not assessed since the 7th century, and prayed — in a mosque next to the Coptic cathedral in Cairo — for the soul of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden after he was killed.

Islamists were also present during the large demonstrations on Tahrir Square at the beginning of the year. At the time, the protestors, who relied heavily on Facebook to spread their message, managed to maintain the secular character of their revolution. But it remains to be seen how secular the Arab Republic of Egypt will be after the parliamentary elections scheduled for September. The Turkish Islamists had decades to prepare for democratic processes. Their Egyptian counterparts have seven months.

Considering that the Muslim Brotherhood announced their election coalition with those same Salafists at the beginning of this month, elBaradei may be a bit short sighted in is complacence about the MB.

Syria has proven to be yet another of Obama’s serious misjudgments. Instead of the “pragmatist and potential reformer who could buck Iranian influence and help broker an eventual Arab peace deal with Israel” Obama believed Assad to be, it’s likely it will just be some harsh lip service and empty threats for the Syrian leader. Considering that the US raced to NATO, and decided to engage in military intervention with Gaddafi – who has not come anywhere close to the “crackdown” Assad has used on his people – this is going to be a hard disconnect of uneven policy to explain away…. save to the deaf, dumb and blind.

Much as Obama would love to ignore that part of the world, he is going to have to figure out a way to spin failed uprisings against many who were US quasi allies in intelligence, and inaction on those who are overt enemies. While he’ll be happy to use the UBL death as an “exit plan” for Afghanistan, we’re now entrenched in a war with Gaddafi, making threats against Assad, busy invading Pakistan’s sovereignty, and making sure we don’t meet eye to eye with Iran. Nor does it help that the most recent Pew polls show his approval rating has plummeted in both Pakistan and Egypt.

So what’s Obama’s answer to straighten this mess out? Send John “Mr. Ketchup” Kerry to Pakistan and threaten to withhold funds while he tosses money to Egypt and Tunisa instead. That would be, of course, the same Egypt where the MB and Salafists are busy planning their election coalition in a state that’s still under military rule, and kicked out the guy who kept peace with Israel. And Tunisia? That would be the country where Gaddafi shipped his wife and kid for safe keeping. In the unlikely event that Gaddafi did fail to hold power, is there any doubt he would follow? And would we then be funding another country supposedly harboring a despot?

Does this get any more confusing? Chaos may be a great description for the fragility of the Middle East countries at this moment, but it’s also a fitting description for this WH’s foreign policy. Friends get the cold shoulder, invaded, or allied leaders are pressured to back down. Mean while enemies either get cash, military assistance, or a blind eye.

To spin this inconsistent and chaotic policy into any kind of accomplishment is going to take arachnoid qualities of gargantuan proportions. And only the most naive of political prey will be fool enough to stumble into such a woven web of embellishment.

About MataHarley

Vietnam era Navy wife, indy/conservative, and an official California escapee now residing as a red speck in the sea of Oregon blue.
This entry was posted in Barack Obama, Egypt, Foreign Policy, Middle East. Bookmark the permalink. Thursday, May 19th, 2011 at 7:00 am
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20 Responses to Obama Mideast speech will be a tangled web woven for campaign spin

  1. Skookum says: 1

    People might be more inclined to learn the locations of these ME countries if they used these more interesting globes.

    The ME has been the center of the greatest turmoil and change, since Obama was immaculated; unfortunately, our influence can be viewed as ineffectual at best. Freedom and Peace are fleeting images and catchwords used by potential despots and tyrants to gain political advantage; while Obama pontificates with impotent posturing about progress and how the ME must work together, while entrenched despots and tyrants laugh at his naiveté and make sure that they only tweak his nose hard enough, not to qualify for an Obama assassination drone attack.

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  2. Zac says: 2

    That is a pretty cheeky picture.

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  3. MataHarley says: 3

    LOL! Yes, boys… ran across that caption and photo, and just couldn’t resist the message and delivery.

    Several minutes into “the speech” now, and still nothing but platitudes….

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  4. another vet says: 4

    On the other hand, the NY Times says Obama is undecided on his position for Israel.

    He just told Israel to pull back to their pre-1967 borders. It looks like the NYT got it wrong yet again. Imagine that.

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  5. Nan G says: 5

    Is that speech the forth or the fifth time Obama has mangled our Declaration of Independence?

    It actually reads:

    …..
    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
    …..

    Obama, in this speech said (again) people are, “…endowed with certain inalienable Rights….”

    The fact that he claimed to speak for all of America when he threw Israel under the bus is egregious.
    But, then, who listened to that part?
    No one who will do anything like follow Obama’s proposal.

    Edited to add:
    Netanyahu (sp?) just came out with an official Israeli reaction to Obama…..
    Thanks, but no thanks.
    (I put it in my own words.)

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  6. MataHarley says: 6

    HuffPo is all over the “reactions” already. Frankly, most of the reactions are as nondescript as the speech itself. What do you say to a generic speech about nothing?

    Don’t see anything from Bebe in a quote yet. Then again, there are no surprises that this POTUS is so willing to redo the Israeli borders for them as the price for peace. One would think Obama would delve into a bit of history…. duh

    According to the Jerusalem Post, Abbas has called an “emergency meeting” in the wake of the speech. Something about Abbas being appreciative, but Hamas livid, calling Obama deceptive and favoring Israel… huh? Yup… no small chasm to cross there for “peace”. LOL

    Just doing JP headline surfing,

    Ben Ari says Obama’s speech ‘a landmine with pretty wrapping’
    Danon: Obama adopted Arafat’s plan for Israel’s destruction
    Tibi says Obama speech offers ‘nothing new’

    For the more positive view:

    Livni: Obama’s peace plan clearly in Israel’s interest

    uh huh…. This long speech about nothing was purely in Obama’s campaign interests. zzzzzzzz No surprise. I’d say Ben Ari’s nailed it. “a landmine with pretty wrapping”

    ADDED: This one is hilarious… Knesset members on the Right call Obama “the new Arafat”.

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  7. MataHarley says: 7

    Nan G, I haven’t seen the text, but a search excerpt says something about “appreciative”. I’d say that Obama may get a private earful when he meets with Netanyahu tomorrow at the WH.

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  8. Nan G says: 8

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday Israel would object to any withdrawal to “indefensible” borders, adding he expected Washington to allow it to keep major settlement blocs in any peace deal.

    In a statement after President Barack Obama’s speech outlining Middle East strategy, Netanyahu said before heading to Washington that “the viability of a Palestinian state cannot come at the expense of Israel’s existence”.

    “That is why Prime Minister Netanyahu expects to hear a reaffirmation from President Obama of U.S. commitments made to Israel in 2004,” the statement added, alluding to a previous letter from Washington suggesting Israel could keep larger settlement blocs as part a peace deal with the Palestinians.

    REUTERS

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  9. Nan G says: 9

    PajamasMedia’s Ron Radosh has another excellent overview of the fallout from Obama’s speech:

    President Obama’s Speech to the State Department Means New Dangers for Israel

    In that essay Jackson Diehl’s article in The Washington Post is excerpted quite well.
    But, it, too, is worth a look.

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  10. oil guy from Alberta says: 10

    Bebe will never give up the Golan Heights, ever. The Syrians used to muster armed raids out of there before the 67 War. Tough country for tanks because they had to stick to the roads. The Uzi was invented to facilitate victory in close contact and bunker battles in that rugged area. Infantry and engineering elements took severe casualties rooting the Syrians out of these stout redoubts. Air attacks and artillery barrages were practically useless. The main weapons were Uzis, grenades, satchel charges, and flame throwers. The engineering term is “Shake and Bake”. Israeli politicians are not going to give these strategic heights away. During the Yom Kippur War the Israelis held the heights, went on the offensive, and had the UN stop them 10 miles from Damascus. If the Israelis give up the heights, kiss their country goodbye.

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  11. @MataHarley: #6,
    “Then again, there are no surprises that this POTUS is so willing to redo the Israeli borders for them as the price for peace. One would think Obama would delve into a bit of history…. duh”

    . . . Exactly. Somehow he’s confused and is confusing America, and her allies.

    At the very least Obama would do well to consider that throughout the last century, the visionary brilliance of Britain and France capriciously forced border changes on Israel. Then, a major Arab attempt to destroy Israel launched the ’67 Six Day War – Egypt and Syria thought they were up to the job, but they grossly underestimated Israel’s resolve.

    Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Lebanon added their forces to the “pile-on” and moved their military troops toward the Israeli border. Israel reacted with serious, decisive and winning, action.

    Now Obama pompously and ignorantly wants Israel to go back to ’67 borders. He would do well to review the geographical gyrations that Israel has been subjected to.

    Let’s hope that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slaps him on the side of the head tomorrow.

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  12. Nan G says: 12

    @James Raider:

    Obama said ”the 1967 borders,” as opposed to the ”pre-1967 borders.”
    I wonder when someone is going to give Obama a history lesson.
    (World’s smartest man! )

    “Israel appreciates President Obama’s commitment to peace,” the response began, curtly.

    “Israel believes that for peace to endure between Israelis and Palestinians, the viability of a Palestinian state cannot come at the expense of the viability of the one and only Jewish state.”

    “That is why Prime Minister Netanyahu expects to hear a reaffirmation from President Obama of U.S. commitments made to Israel in 2004, which were overwhelmingly supported by both Houses of Congress.”

    “Among other things,” Netanyahu reminded Obama, “those commitments relate to Israel not having to withdraw to the 1967 lines which are both indefensible and which would leave major Israeli population centers in Judea and Samaria beyond those lines.”

    I wonder what Americans would think if (after Israel agreed to pull back as per Obama’s desire) 43 of us had to be killed every time an Israeli (includes Jews, Arabs, Christians and Muslims) is killed by Palestinians.
    Our population ratio is 43 to 1.
    How long before we would be clamoring to allow Israel to defend itself at whatever borderlines work best?

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  13. @Nan G:
    Thanks, NanG, my bad. It’s corrected.

    Perhaps they should go back and add the Trans Jordan territory that was sliced off by the UN.

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  14. another vet says: 14

    What would happen if someone told us that in order to solve our southern border/illegal alien problem that we should return to our pre-1848 borders?

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  15. @Nan G:
    Nan G., nevertheless, I look forward on clarification at to the meaning of ” ’67 borders” from Obama.

    I’m assuming from the context of his speech that Obama meant “Pre ’67″ which means pre the Six Day War, which obviously is a non-starter for Israel.

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  16. @another vet: #14

    I think you have provided a humorous, yet completely appropriate parallel.

    And the MSM is giving Obama a pass on the whole speech. In effect, the MSM is saying, “nothing new here, let’s move on.”

    How can it give him a pass on stabbing Israel and fuelling the fires that surround it?

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  17. another vet says: 17

    @James Raider: @James Raider: TASS, excuse me, the MSM are part of his flock of sheep and will NEVER criticize him. If Israel believes it has been thrown under the bus and is thus all on its own, there is no telling what it will do if Iran gets close to getting their hands on a nuke. Hatred in that part of the world is centuries old and no matter what Israel does, they will always be hated as will we.

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  18. cali says: 18

    If that was thought of helping him get re-elected, he sure threw Israel under the bus; but whatelse is new with this charlatan.

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  19. Nan G says: 19

    Hamas weighed in on Obama’s speech:
    Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri:

    “Reconciliation is an internal affair and we reject the American intervention, and Hamas will not recognize Israel.

    Hamas own newspaper……The Palestine Times

    Gee, Obama, still think your ”hopey/changey” plan will work?

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  20. Greta says: 20

    Thanks for the picture. Many think Barry uses his head to bring forth his teleprompter delivered words of wisdom. Now we know that they all come from this part of his anatomy. Now what he says begins to make sense. I once had a thought that came from this part of my anatomy and it cost me dearly. Imagine trying to run a country that way…

    ReplyReply

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