Obama Fails in Middle East UPDATE
by MainStreet, Sun Nov 08, 2009 at 05:24:00 AM EST
A few days ago, Robert Dreyfuss in The Nation magazine provided a summary of the state of Barak Obama's Middle East policy, as delivered in his world changing Cairo speech, which promised a new era of peace. The center-piece of Obama's policy was Palestinian statehood (the two state solution) for a people held intolerably in bondage (military occupation) for over four decades, while their lands were being colonized (through various illegal means) by Israel.
The announcement by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that he will not run for reelection is the exclamation point on the utter collapse of the Obama adminstration's Middle East policy. Launched to great expectations -- the appointment of George Mitchell, Obama's Cairo declaration that the plight of the Palestinians is intolerable -- it is now in complete disarray. It is, without doubt, the first major defeat for Obama's hope-and-change foreign policy.
Dreyfus provided the details on how the Obama peace plan unraveled.
Obama first tested Israel's policy of illegal settlements, the expansion of its colonialism in the West Bank (and East Jerusalem). Netayahu refused to stop. Obama lost. Obama then capitulated by refusing to apply any penalty for Netanyahu's intransigence. Another Obama loss. Obama had hinted that he might announce this fall a comprehensive US plan for the Middle East, which many believed would look like prior two-state proposals (withdrawal from the West Bank, dismantling of the settlements, end of the Gaza embargo, division of Jerusalem, land swaps to adjust borders). Netanyahu insisted that these were points for negotiation. No plan was forthcoming. Obama lost again. Then the US, in contrast to its principles, supported Israel on the damning Goldstone Report which accused Israel (and Hamas) of war crimes in Gaza. Obama conformed to Netanyahu's wishes once again. Finally, Secretary of State Clinton went to Israel and praised Netanyahu for his "unprecedented" compromise to essentially continue the colonization of Palestinian lands by expanding settlements. The Obama administration sucked up once again.
So how can anyone blame the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, for getting off of Middle East peace merry-go-round by indicating he will not run again. Apparently, he's had enough of American disingenuousness that goes back decades.
A recent Washington Post article reports that the Obama administration has essentially acknowledged that its Middle East policy is a failure.
CAIRO -- The Obama administration has concluded that an early resumption of high-level negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians over a Palestinian state is unlikely in the near future -- an acknowledgment that it has fallen short, for now, on one of its major initial foreign policy goals.
While still pressing for face-to-face talks between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli President Binyamin Netanyahu, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has begun to urge Arab states to encourage Palestinian participation in lower-level talks with Israel to avoid a vacuum.
A "vacuum," indeed. That vacuum would seem to be caused by Obama's disengagement from his own ambitious Middle East policy, which for all practical purposes is now dead.
Where do we go from here?
UPDATE from Philip Weiss' blog:
Avnery: Barack W. Obama
November 8, 2009
J Streets aim is to enable progressive American Jews to pressure Obama to force the two-state-solution. So far the pressure seems to be coming from Palestine. Uri Avnery:
"Mahmoud Abbas is fed up. The day before yesterday he withdrew his candidacy for the coming presidential election in the Palestinian Authority.
"I understand him.
"He feels betrayed. And the traitor is Barack Obama .
"At long last an American president who understood that he had to put an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, not only for the sake of the two peoples, but mainly for the US national interests. This conflict is largely responsible for the tidal waves of anti-American hatred that sweep the Muslim masses from ocean to ocean
"As high as the hopes were then, so deep is the disappointment now. Nothing of all these has come about. Worse: the Obama administration has shown by its actions and omissions that it is not really different from the administration of George W. Bush."
Uri Avnery is the founder of the Israeli peace activist group, Gush Shalom.