Tag Archives: 100 Days

Camp Victory II: Netanyahu Agenda Faces Unfriendly American President (100 Days – FP Analysis)

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.

Analyze This

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.

JPOST Asleep!?

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.

Minimizing achievements

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)

Camp Victory I: Netanyahu Agenda Hitting On All Cylinders (100 Days – Domestic Analysis, Link Update II)

Tzipi Who?

100 Days - Bibi is on Track

100 Days - Bibi is on Track

Those on the far left in Israel and even the far right are spinning their wheels in frustration, pulling their hair out. This past week saw Israel’s left leaning media desperately try to get a meme going. Kadima held an entire press conference to push home the notion that Bibi has accomplished nothing in 100 days, complete with billboards & signs & graphics.. Reaction in Israel? ZzZzZz.

Sure the Somfalvis & the Haaretz cheerleaders, media apologists for Kadima et al want to somehow break the consensus in Israel, unfortunately for them & the opposition Kadima has become totally irrelevant and by extension – So have they which is what I suspect really gets their goad. Frankly, no one here cares what they say right now. Livni’s stock has plummeted lower than GM, it is nearing bankruptcy status. Her double failure getting a coalition in place, added to solid numbers for Netanyahu spell doom soon.

In the next 10 weeks, I expect to see the hammer come out. Our new PM can employ grace and again offer Kadima govt position on his terms and build a Super-Coalition. if Livni chooses to play bitter lemon as she has so far, she does so at her & Kadima’s peril. There is no doubt that Livni is currently a bitter bitter lady. Either way Bibi is sitting pretty for the time being.

The silence is deafening..

Internally, Kadima members are feeling the heat of the cold dark winter of opposition. They also played very very dirty of late. Quietly and not so quietly pushing an agenda with American Jewish influential players and even I suspect the WH itself. The effort? To isolate Netanyahu by creating schism between the US Administration & Israel and push forth the notion that Livni would have been better, one suspects because she is a serial caver to pressure. The goal seems to have been drum up bad PR, and pressure the coalition. This has not only failed but backfired. Netanyahu’s policy speech on peace was warmly received by a wide majority of Israel across the electorate. His lines in the sand vs Obama and the Arab demands only rallying the Israeli public to his side contrary to the pundits predictions.

Bibi has masterfully seized the right & the left’s agenda and left very little playing field for the hard left or the right for that matter. From what I can tell the far far right’s hilltop threats are probably best reserved for a later date, the outrage over Bibi’s embrace of principles considered poisonous failed to materialize even within Likud itself and fizzled. This is not a replay of the Sharon split which caused Kadima to form a few years ago. To Quote Elmer Fudd, now is a good time to be vewy vewy quiet..

Fruits & Vegetables

The controversial VAT move to tax fruits & veggies going forward was a mistake. I’m a fiscal conservative but even I did not support this move. The crutch that initiatives will harm weaker segments of society is played often in Israeli politics and is convenient for parties like Shas & Labor to employ, usually quite cynically. But this is one rare exception where the notion is based on real truths. As such, the flip flop by Netanyahu should have been painful, instead I suspect most voters share my own views on the matter..

This flop was a good call, thanks for listening. I view this as a positive not a negative and I suspect many agree. I don’t want to harm large religious families, this is not the way to raise funds for the budget. Find another way, push the water waste tax and make frivolous consumers of our drought pay through the nose instead. Eli Yshai will have a tough sell claiming wasting water is good for poor people, rich people or any peoples for that matter..

This in my opinion is another example of Netanyahu seizing the ball and playing on other people’s fields, stealing both their agenda and thunder for his own use. It is being interpreted opposite by anti bibi forces who are trying to make hay, but give it some time and no one will remember the timelines only the final decision.. One that has mass public support.

Incidentally, as a voter I ask please do not cave on other budget items. There is enough slack to smack the coalition into place and restore Finance Minister Steinitz to a position of full respect. Equally one must add that while the planet continues to mire deeply in economic crisis, we have a functional budget. Yes there are shortfalls in tax revenues, yes there will be a deficit. But compared to some of our friends we have taken a responsible fiscal line overall. This may not look like an achievement to Kadima, but it in actuality it is the number one domestic need right now and it is on track.

Reforms

There have also been reforms in banking, and more solidly in the Israel land authority. The plan is to make housing more affordable and capitalize on State lands while boosting the economy from the resulting activity. It’s a good plan, let’s see how it plays out. There are also tax cuts coming in the 2010 fiscal year, modest ones but we are in a recession so anything deeper will only raise debt. One hopes that the responsible fiscal policies will continue and Israel will be in a position to slingshot out of the global recession, cut taxes even further and spur employment.

It is not all rainbows & unicorns. I want to see the PM move on water, & power. We have an agreement with the main labor group but the electric authority and the water authorities need to be vastly improved. Kadima has left us a legacy of failures. These unions are sucking the economy down and productivity is too low. We have dangerously low margins for both juice and drink. Relevant authorities should be held accountable. I hope to see these difficult issues tackled by the government in the coming year. The now estimated appx 40 billion dollar Natural Gas finds off the Haifa coasts will certainly assist, we should invest now statewide and not allow the current corrupt inept authorities global oversight of these new rich resources.. But these are topics beyond 100 days.

So far, domestically Israel is on track and the opposition knows it all too well. Bibi is hitting the right notes, has popular support and can step it up even further. It is a stark contrast to the stagnation we have experienced the last 2 years under Kadima leadership.

Link Update: Stop the presses..
Gideon Levy & I finally agree on something after 3 years. The Apocalypse is near.
When the most ultra left wing Haaretz opinion columnist on Earth agrees with the general consensus of your analysis regarding Kadima, (albeit for diametric reasons) you know you have struck gold..

Kadima has nothing to offer. It’s doubtful this refugee party ever had anything genuine to offer except Ariel Sharon, but in opposition versus Netanyahu it seems to have lost both its way and voice.

We should probably stop agreeing Gideon, you may force me to to do a little dance in my underwear soon ; )
The far left, and far right really are pulling their hair out. It’s probably one of the bigger achievements we’ve seen in the first 100 days. Bibi is a masterful political operator. He has pulled the rug out from under Livni, and if Mofaz is smart he will make his move to push for coalition. If Netanyahu is equally smart and he is, I expect it in the next 10-12 weeks as posted above.

Resistance is futile..

Should Kadima resist.. We may see it fracture with Mofaz leaving. The challenge for Bibi is mustering some portfolios for the senior defense Kadima man. The best case scenario for Netanyahu is such a fracture, for now he is surely content to allow Livni to wallow in obscurity otherwise, as the coalition play would be a pressure gambit only. Should he succeed in splitting Kadima (no small feat), the ground is clear for an opposition-less path for years ahead & a Likud power reign of the right.

Once again, Bibi grabs the ball and leaves little playing room on the field – By calling out Abbas to meet for peace talks, whom is refusing. You gotta love this guy – ‘Never say Never’ Netanyahu can QB with the best of ‘em.

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The second part, Camp Victory II is up..
Camp Victory II: Netanyahu Agenda Faces Unfriendly American President (100 Days – FP Analysis)
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