100 Days of Netanyahu Foreign Policy
Continuing my look at Netanyahu’s first 100 days,
here is my take on issues pertaining to Foreign Policy.
In Israel, we are mostly a one issue nation these days – Iran’s nuclear program and the greater Middle East. This is where the stakes are high, and this is where we must achieve victories both large & small. This is also where Netanyahu will either sail or stall as failure in these international issues will be the end. Accordingly I measure my analysis on these factors.
Thanks to the Obama administration the agenda until now has seemingly been all settlements, all the time. President Obama has taken a one sided view on issues pertaining to Israel, consensus on both the right & left including international opinion is that the pressure & onus is nearly entirely on Israel. It is apparent Obama has embraced the big lie, ‘Israel is the obstacle to peace’.
Of course, the big lie as they most often usually do disregards all reality. Including the numerous rejections of peace offers initiated by Israel to the Palestinians consisting of nearly everything they could ever dream of for themselves save one thing – The destruction of Israel. Instead, we see an emboldened Palestinians whom are simply demanding more because contrary to the President’s statements that he has pressured both sides equally, the Palestinians are clearly overjoyed with Obama’s slap Israel around positions and feel they have the ‘upper hand’ thanks to Obama, as stated by Saeb Erekat himself.
Netanyahu has been moving deftly despite the treacherous terrain outlined above. I think it is clear Obama over played the card. Making settlements the Mecca of peace processing was an absurdly idiotic idea – For one it is not true, but more importantly these concessions & weakness to one sided Arab demands for more & more have won America nothing, no concessions only rejection and certainly no mythical Muslim world love. The Peace process itself has not been advanced, it has been retarded in fact.
Yoel Marcus the liberal commenter at Haaretz has himself never seen anything like Obama’s one sided pressures, and praises Netanyahu in his analysis of the 100 days. By contrast, in one of the most superficial go through the motions pieces referencing the 100 days I’ve seen, JPOST truly disappoints. In an article that spends more than 50% of its type-space talking about the 100 days of everyone on the planet save Netanyahu himself, JPOST tops things off with pretty uncharacteristically shoddy analysis.
A main critique is that Netanyahu waited too long to give his Peace policy speech. Instead of embracing the commonly held view in Israel that the speech was excellent, properly reflected & articulated Israelis views, challenged dangerous notions Obama had put forth in Cairo, and laid out strong policy & requirements Israel regards as necessary for peace.. Jpost nitpicks and the analysis consists of ‘the speech came too late’. Apparently someone is convinced I guess that the Americans would take a softer line if we had in essence pre-empted the President. Good luck with that, considering Obama is clearly an ideologue with views formed on these issues over decades, surrounded by questionable sources and filth like Jeremiah Wright.
The next critique of Netanyahu is over his use of Ehud Barak as point man to American discussions over settlements instead of FM Lieberman, thus ‘marginalizing the FM’ according to the JPOST Editorial. I have heard this false positive mentioned elsewhere as well. Again, I was disappointed by the shoddy work truthfully. Instead of praising the Prime Minister for using the best tools for a decidedly difficult job involving navigating a minefield in a critical issue for Israel (US Support), JPOST goes with the go through the motions blah blah.
Lieberman himself incidentally took the position opposite JPOST’s analysis, humbly stating that DM Barak was probably the better choice tactically for Israel re: US settlement negotiations. As even a cursory glance at articles or photos show, Mitchel & Barak get along. If we are trying to bridge an already unfair rift with the US on settlements in order to squeeze even some small gains, why on earth would we send out our FM who would likely not be able to achieve this is the question we should be asking?
Lieberman would not get along with Mitchel, Mitchel would only increase his hostility and Israel would achieve nothing. It makes little sense, even the most basic negotiation class will tell you to establish some rapport in order to maximize gains. Lieberman doesn’t need ego boosts, his party is on the rise, he is committed to Israel, seeks what is best in his belief for Israel. As things stand we may still achieve little, but at least we have put in place someone to make our case in these matters whom is beloved by Clinton Democrats and the American left in general, as opposed to someone whom is reviled like sadly & unjustly both Netanyahu & Lieberman are.
By glossing over on the whole analysis part JPOST becomes the entity actually marginalizing the FM Lieberman unfortunately. Avigdor has done good work, and Netanyahu deserves praise for marshaling Israel’s resources so effectively. Instead of sending the FM to the USA for settlement talk best served by Barak, he sent him to Russia, and to a cadre of former soviet block states all around Europe & Asia where damaged Israeli relations benefited tremendously from the Russian Lieberman. Israel scored points with usually cold aloof countries who could relate to Lieberman and his character in general. Far from being a detriment, Both Lieberman’s & Netanyahu’s actions have in true analysis been fairly effective for 100 days. A Prime Minister must be a good manager, thus far Netanyahu & his inner circle have impressed.
Compared to Livni or Olmert it is night & day. Livni herself was considered the worst manager at the Foreign Ministry ever, and Olmert well he ‘managed’ to nearly get thrown in Prison and ‘managed’ along with Livni to not decisively bring home Israeli victories which was fairly disastrous, all within their own first 100 days. Under Netanyahu we have made compromises, big ones. On policy overall, and on settlements. It behooves me why some would not want us to capitalize as much as humanely possible on these compromises to the best of our abilities & benefit? It appears as if this is precisely what Netanyahu has done. I don’t mean to harp endlessly on JPOST, I’m just surprised & disappointed by the usually excellent Jerusalem Post crew of Keinon, Hoffman, Katz & Horovitz who were weak on this overall.
Atomic Meat & Potatoes
While the American administration has kept the focus on settlements to serve its own needs & to cover its inadequacy regarding Iranian nuclear weapons, we have nonetheless managed to notch gains in Israel. Some of the credit goes to Netanyahu himself, but much of it belongs to the Iranians who have through their demonstrations exposed both the Iranian Regime as brutal despots hiding behind the shield of Islam, and the American President himself to be an international clown. Yes, Obama’s main foreign policy platform was his engagement policies and he has been proved to be a naive fool thus far judging by world events. America has no plan, and its Emperor no longer has any clothes.. Yet still the administration persists, unable to divorce itself of its false ideologies. It’s pitiful to watch from such a great nation as America.
No matter, that’s up to the Americans to fix if they so desire, for Israel the critical factor until now was to steer this disastrous American government as best as possible in light of these realities. Specifically by getting a timeline down for when engagement policies are evaluated for failure, and some actual concerted action to stem the Iranian nuclear drive can take place. Netanyahu made gains when he met with Obama in Washington, by getting the President to acknowledge that engagement wasn’t open ended.
Barack Obama talked about the end of the year for his evaluations then. Now that Iran has been killing its own people and shredding both its & Obama’s credibility at the same time, those timelines are growing ever more positive to Israeli schedules. With the G8 calling for tangible signs by the end of September and the next G8 meeting, Obama’s engagement follies now bear harsh scrutiny not only from Israel, but the bulk of Europe as well. So while Israel is up against a stacked American deck on a slate of issues, we are in this case as well chipping away. From open ended, morphing to the start of 2010, now we are looking at October 2009 on the most critical issue for Israel of all & this occurred within the 100 days. Hopefully some sanctions and actions will take place going forward, but the ball has advanced and it is thanks to Netanyahu in part.
I’ll take another 100 Days of this please..
In the face of serious adversity, Netanyahu’s government has had to make concessions. But in the overall picture we have held the line in Israel regarding important issues, rolled back some dangerous concessions put forth by Olmert & Livni already accepted by the world as defacto realities, and brought world timelines regarding Iran more in line with Israel’s. In the near term we may also be able to show who the real obstacles to peace really are, as crazy as it seems that we should require to endeavor at that in the 1st place. These are solid feats for 100 days thus far, and for Israel to build on.
The critique from the opposition is that Netanyahu is ‘Zig Zagging’. My close friend served in an engineering unit for the IDF tasked with dangerous mine work on the Northern border. If you ask him, and he’s clearly an expert he will tell you that to avoid a zig & zag when crossing a mine field will lead to very ugly results for everyone involved. It’s called being a good politician, it’s called strategy, it’s called good leadership, and to measure the situation Israel is facing with a hostile US government and World all around us, without analyzing these realities & Netanyahu’s efforts to task & deal with them is absurd.
Just as in my domestic analysis; Camp Victory I: Netanyahu Agenda Hitting On All Cylinders I can only conclude that the far left & far right in Israel are again pulling their hair out and spinning wheels. That’s good news for the other 70% of Israelis solidly in support of Netanyahu until now. It means he’s doing something right. By reading through my two posts on his first 100 days I hope you have a clearer picture of what that is.
(Note: I amalgamated two posts in this portion of my analysis on FP, the original and then I weaved a short later post in before publishing.. Hope it flows despite some length)