Fixture in Peace Process for 25 Years No Longer Religious Believer in Power of American Messiah
Miller, a center left State Department fixture who has advised 6 different Secretaries of State is a public policy fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars, prolific author and columnist.
He is considered for better or worse amongst the top US experts on the region & Middle East Peace. He has just penned an article in Foreign Policy that has shaken the American Status Quo to its very foundations.
He describes in the lengthy worthy piece how US policy & Peace Processing has become a religion for American bureaucrats & political leaders, a religion he formerly practiced but now no longer believes in..
Like all religions, the peace process has developed a dogmatic creed, with immutable first principles. Over the last two decades, I wrote them hundreds of times to my bosses in the upper echelons of the State Department and the White House; they were a catechism we all could recite by heart. First, pursuit of a comprehensive peace was a core, if not the core, U.S. interest in the region, and achieving it offered the only sure way to protect U.S. interests; second, peace could be achieved, but only through a serious negotiating process based on trading land for peace; and third, only America could help the Arabs and Israelis bring that peace to fruition.
He describes how these concepts have become immovable dogmas of the religion, and how Obama has thrown himself full force into becoming a believer, pursuing them with zeal. The problem is, Miller no longer carries the faith..
Today, I couldn’t write those same memos or anything like them with a clear conscience or a straight face. Although many experts’ beliefs haven’t changed, the region has, and dramatically, becoming nastier and more complex. U.S. priorities and interests, too, have changed. The notion that there’s a single or simple fix to protecting those interests, let alone that Arab-Israeli peace would, like some magic potion, bullet, or elixir, make it all better, is just flat wrong. In a broken, angry region with so many problems — from stagnant, inequitable economies to extractive and authoritarian governments that abuse human rights and deny rule of law, to a popular culture mired in conspiracy and denial – it stretches the bounds of credulity to the breaking point to argue that settling the Arab-Israeli conflict is the most critical issue, or that its resolution would somehow guarantee Middle East stability.
Uh oh.. This is contrary to the very pillars Obama & his administration have laid forth in their endless Israel Assault of pressure. Leak after leak, statement after statement, all highlighting how solving the Arab Israeli Palestinian conflict is the most critical puzzle piece, and a top American national priority interest. The statements have been piling up in fact.
The American left wing has gone so far as to frame the life & death of American soldiers themselves as requiring immediate resolution of the problem.. Of course, that is patently absurd. But the left, seizing on the anti-Israel attitude is making ever rising claims of absurdity and the false memes are spreading fanned by a loving it media. All this despite individuals like Petraeus himself stating clearly this is simply not the case, that these memes are false.
We have seen so far the results.. Absurd efforts to define local zoning laws in Israel all the way from Washington D.C.; A pressure campaign to topple Netanyahu; Frigid Israeli American relations; Threats, public dressing downs of foreign leaders; A total fantasy like American eyeball aversion to the Palestinians or their actions, while Israel is routinely blamed for everything under the sun.. No matter, the Obami soldier on as if on Crusade to borrow from Miller’s religious metaphor.
Miller doesn’t see the factors for Peace
He writes that Obama & advisers are trying to manufacture artificially the necessary components for peace and a deal using sheer American will. But that this is an illusion as there are no partners currently, or willingness in the region in order to conclude such a deal irrespective of America’s will, and that in the end this will result in a stunning American failure.
Bottom line: Negotiations can work, but both Arabs and Israelis (and American leaders) need to be willing and able to pay the price. And they are not.
Under these circumstances, the refrain from many quarters is that America must save the day. If the Arabs and Israelis are too weak or recalcitrant, then the United States must support and/or push them to make the deal.
Miller chides the administration for making huge errors in the focus on settlements, and questions the logic behind the Obama strategies themselves as they do not lead in any way to a deal or peace, only to expending more & more American political capital without benefit, concluding..
The believers need to re-examine their faith, especially at a moment when America is so stretched and overextended. The United States needs to do what it can, including working with Israelis and Palestinians on negotiating core final-status issues (particularly on borders, where the gaps are narrowest), helping Palestinians develop their institutions, getting the Israelis to assist by allowing Palestinians to breathe economically and expand their authority, and keeping Gaza calm, even as it tries to relieve the desperation and sense of siege through economic assistance. But America should also be aware of what it cannot do, as much as what it can. [...]
In many ways there are subtle & not so subtle jabs at the Obama admin here, the entire religious framework and Yes We Can attitude gets a thorough lashing in Miller’s piece. Time for believers to re-examine the faith, the statement is directed at the Department of State, the NSC & Obama himself and the message is clear enough, cut it out because No We Can’t.
Miller was on to something..
He posited that the Obama administration on the Arab Israeli conflict was not transformational, but transactional – Trying to focus on the dozens of details and seeking endless concessions to iron them out to produce a deal. But, he felt that as tough as the Obama admin may get to wring concessions, they would have to be respectful of Israel & the relationship to succeed.
He stated that listening to Israel would be more important than lecturing Israel in order to notch gains. That American will & opinion matched that of Israeli will & opinion, that the countries identified with each other on a powerful plane, and that Obama would need to proceed cautiously lest he upset that balance..
Off a cliff
We have since seen the admin push this transactional concept to the very edge right along with the US Israel relationship itself, thoroughly disregarding Miller’s warnings. Precisely because they do not listen, they do not respect, and many suspect they do not care about Israel in the least. I would add to Miller’s provocative & interesting piece that not only he, but a great many are now no longer believers..
If you want to know why you need only look at President Obama and his ugly relationship with the State of Israel.
Obama Peace Plan?
The unfriendly American administration which has perpetuated crisis over settlements and Jerusalem has squandered Israeli trust & faith in its efforts to endlessly court Muslims & the Arab world, all of it at American & Israeli strategic expense as the move to halt Iran flounders.
84% – Overwhelming majority refuse division of Jerusalem.
90% – Overwhelming majority refuse handing off Jordan River Valley security zone.
81% – Overwhelming majority state Obama “improper” to ‘impose’ plan.
Polling of Palestinians themselves shows overwhelming opposition to any Peace or two state solution!
Would accept the creation of a Palestinian state within the pre-1967 borders with a land exchange as a final solution for the Palestinian problem?
66.7% against VS 28.3% in favor, and 5% who did not know or did not express an opinion.
Would support division of Jerusalem as a capital of two states?
77.4 opposed such a plan VS 20.8% in favor, and 1.8% had no opinion or chose not to express it.
The Obama administration seems incapable of embracing Arab rejections of peace. Senior Obama officials continue to meet privately in the White House with the radically left American Jewish group Jstreet, with prominent anti Israel figures like Brzezinski, all of it in order to seemingly form policy. Policy that is totally unacceptable in Israel, and is clearly oblivious to both Israeli political & public reality!?
Brezinski may have proposed the latest imposed peace plan, but calling for America to impose a fake plan that delivers no peace, only endless Israeli concesions is long standing policy for far left American groups like Peace Now, J Street etc. Meanwhile, the policy of linking endless Israeli concessions & Palestinian statehood to stopping Iran from developing nuclear weapons is alive & well, despite the fact that a prominent proponent of engagement himself has declared this linkage policy to be a serious mistake.
Just how far is President Obama willing to go to accommodate the idea of containing a nuclear Iran, as opposed to stopping one?
I mean beyond..
- Creating crises after crises with Israel.
- Embracing false Arab narratives.
- Watering down sanctions.
- Rejecting congressional fuel sanction efforts.
- Freezing arms sales to Israel.
- Dividing Jerusalem.
- Polling at 4% in the holy land.
- Overlooking Syrian SCUD weapon exports to Hezbollah
Gird Your Loins Israel
We are headed at full steam toward a massive crisis with America. The most ultra liberal, anti Israel administration in Gd knows how many decades is gearing up to impose a fake peace on Israel, entailing massive concessions.
Despite the fact the administration has gotten pretty much everything wrong on the foreign policy front for the last 1.5 years, this progressive train wreck shows absolutely no sign of slowing. The massive Jerusalem fiasco and concessions were small potatoes according to senior Obama administration sources, and these should be fun times ahead because the entire US Israel relationship is being used as a threat, a tool of so called smart diplomacy.
WASHINGTON — President Obama is “seriously considering” proposing an American peace plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, according to two top administration officials.
“Everyone knows the basic outlines of a peace deal,” said one of the senior officials, citing the agreement that was nearly reached at Camp David in 2000 and in subsequent negotiations. He said that an American plan, if launched, would build upon past progress on such issues as borders, the “right of return” for Palestinian refugees and the status of Jerusalem. The second senior official said that “90 percent of the map would look the same” as what has been agreed in previous bargaining. [...]
This is change all right..
Every assurance ever issued by the United States of America and her government to Israel is invalidated by the action of Obama imposing a solution. Obama is breaking every agreement the US has ever made with Israel. All agreements made from Oslo, from Camp David II, The Roadmap, agreements from the Gaza withdrawal, agreements from the recent Annapolis process, all the assurances that neither America nor concessions would influence final status talks & issues? All out the door.
If that wasn’t a poor enough display, clearly the say of the Israeli electorate itself carries no meaning either. Shocking how this US administration has stumbled leg over foot to deride the ideals of democracy any way it can, I guess this is par for the new course America is now on. Obama figures he can ram through the American electorate, why not Israel’s as well?
The American peace plan would be linked with the issue of confronting Iran, which is Israel’s top priority, explained the second senior official. He described the issues as two halves of a single strategic problem: “We want to get the debate away from settlements and East Jerusalem and take it to a 30,000-feet level that can involve Jordan, Syria and other countries in the region,” as well as the Israelis and Palestinians.
“Incrementalism hasn’t worked,” continued the second official, explaining that the U.S. cannot simply allow the Palestinian problem to keep festering — providing fodder for Iran and other extremists. “As a global power with global responsibilities, we have to do something.” He said the plan would “take on the absolute requirements of Israeli security and the requirements of Palestinian sovereignty in a way that makes sense.” [...]
That is some of the most frightening kool aid I have ever read and it goes on. Clearly, Obama and his White House no longer even see peace as the goal, probably because they know no deal will deliver it. Israel will have to simply make any and all concessions decreed by Obama, in order to put a stop to this “festering Palestinian problem”. If not, America cannot be relied upon to ‘effectively support Israel versus Iran’.
That’s quite a threat our “good friend Obama” is waving at us. For him Iran developing nuclear weapons and us caving to every single Arab demand are two halves of a whole it seems. Put me down under the “I don’t like the Obama plan” box. I don’t like sacrificing my state or security to satisfy this Palestinian pandering President’s personal desires, and I don’t like having my national time clock dictated to me by Iran. I rather suspect there’s an Israeli government & Israeli majority that feels the same way.
We didn’t vote for this guy you know
Big government and Obama’s amazing negotiating skills are going to solve Syria, Iran, not too mention the whole Global Jihad and deliver peace on earth. Guess who’s paying the bill? Israel. That’s quite a plan! Let’s see which of these 2 options happens first. The Obama plan or the Middle East eating Obama alive.
This won’t be the last we hear on the topic, of that we can be sure. This ingenius shaft Israel plan will be totally uncacceptable in Israel at every level both polically & publically.
Elliott Abrams is equally impressed with our new Terms of Endearment here in Israel.
UPDATE: Netanyahu responds;
Israel will not accept a Middle East peace agreement that is forced on it by external forces, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly said in private meetings in recent days, sources said Wednesday.
Netanyahu reportedly told close aides that “it won’t work and it won’t be acceptable if a settlement is forced on us,” stressing the need to ensure proper security arrangements as part of any future peace deal.
For that end, the PM reportedly said, Israel would have to retain a military presence along its eastern border with Jordan, adding that any agreement that doesn’t allow for those measure will not be accepted. [...]
To say the least..
Obama Displays a Poor Understanding of Israeli Politics
One loudly touted possible result of the Obama administration’s endless assaults on Israel and the Netanyahu government was the possible collapse of said government. The badly kept secret around Washington being that neither Obama, Rahm Emmanuel, nor Mrs. Clinton have much love for Benjamin Netanyahu. For Obama himself things break down succinctly, there is us (Progressives) and there is them, the Likud.
Biden made familiar noises along these lines during the campaign, stating that his Israel support took a backseat to no one, including AIPAC & the Likud (whatever that means in Biden’s signature foreign language of incomprehensibility). They all love Israel, just not the democratically elected Likud one. Instead they love the Jstreet, Meretz, Peace Now incarnation of Israel.. The one in their dreams that acquiesces to every demand. It’s an Israel composed mainly of fantasy and dreams gone by, with names like Rabin tossed around for good measure.
Obama and his crew hold deep illusions
- Firstly that this fantasy Israel they cherish, held differing positions on Jerusalem or security than the prevailing wind these days.
- Secondly, that Kadima or Livni could any more sign-up for the Obama fantasy than Netanyahu himself could.
Even Obama’s friendliest media is doubtful of any regime change strategy having much success these days. The initial plan would have been to pressure Netanyahu’s coalition to such an extent that it would topple, leaving Livni and her Kadima party poised to build a new parliament centered around her, a more pliable Obama target.
Sadly for the Obami, Livni could not build coalitions twice previously nor can she do so now. Her leadership is under serious question within Kadima itself, half the party wants into the Netanyahu government. So clearly, that plan is going nowhere. The fallback may have been squeezing the coalition to such an extend that it buckles forcing Netanyahu to lean toward Livni, thus bringing Kadima into the coalition under some form of power sharing tilting it leftward. But that plan also, would have been a mis-read of Israeli politics.
A well-known dictum talks about a person’s “finest hour”; yet Opposition Leader Tzipi Livni can have her moment of glory in just one minute – all she needs to do is say “yes.” This is what Israel’s political establishment expects her to do these days.
The situation is clear at this time: Israel’s global standing is gradually eroding, and we can already see the de-legitimization of our suffering state within broad camps across the world. In many aspects, this is a dangerous situation. Many things – and in fact, everything – can be done to a de-legitimized state.
Under these circumstances, Kadima Chairwoman Livni is being called to the colors. Examining the situation from a diplomatic point of view, Livni and her fellow Kadima members belong at the government table at this time. [...]
However, examining the issue from every personal, political, and partisan point of view, such move on her part would constitute an almost certain recipe for political suicide. So these days, Tzipi Livni is being torn between two possibilities that are completely the opposite of each other. What will she decide to do?
Jerusalem is the consensus issue.
If Kadima were to enter the coalition it would not be under terms of strength, ie to be more acquiescing to intense pressure from Obama. In fact the opposite, Kadima would have to enter to bolster Israel nationally at a time of national discourse in terms of threats & security. She would be joining to satisfy public hunger to strengthen Israel from the pressure itself. In effect shielding Netanyahu in order to face the common cause;
- America’s apparent embrace of containment for a nuclear Iran.
- The fallout of a hostile world coming to the realization that Israel has a fairweather friend in the Obama White House.
Haber quoted above calls it political suicide for her. She would not be joining to shout from the hilltops of Mt Olives that building in Jerusalem should cease, because that is not the position of her Kadima party. Nor is it the position of the Likud, nor of Israel our Home, nor of even the Labor party. She would be consigned to supporting the government, generals or hawks, when they said it was go time on any range of burning issues sure to flare up shortly. That’s hardly the glowing foreign policy triumph perhaps imagined in the Obama situation room of genius, a even wider coalition support base for Netanyahu to wield the military card from..
Frankly, under no scenario here do any of the Obama moves of late make much sense. No matter the scenario, Netanyahu comes out strengthened. Even worse for Obama, Netanyahu’s positions represent the current Israeli consensus and there’s nothing Obama or even Livni can do about it. Both can either fall in line or play the politically dangerous US game of Israel crisis, that’s a game that inevitably leads to bloodshed & war.
Maybe they should try knocking on the Palestinian’s door instead & asking when they intend to negotiate for peace?
We Must Pursue a New Strategic Reality
It is now clear that the President of the United States is intent on appeasing the enemies of both America & Israel. It is also clear he intends to do so at our expense in Israel. Whatever his strategy, (beyond sheer malice) the following is evident. Obama is moving to impose a solution on Israel that will not deliver the prime ingredient, PEACE.
The President has broken a number of agreements with us, despite his assurances his word is meaningless. He broke agreements with us regarding Jerusalem, we painfully froze settlements in the West Bank excluding Jerusalem and months later our concessions have been digested, and he is only pushing for more. This means our concessions have no currency, they are like devalued dollars in an inflationary spiral. Forget guarantees, our concessions don’t even generate goodwill! Neither with America nor the Palestinians.
The opposite, they are perceived as weakness by a tyrant intent on pummeling us further. Such a man cannot be entrusted, he has broken faith not only with our government, but the people of Israel. This new reality touches on a wide range of issues;
- American assurances regarding Iran’s nuclear drive
- American assurances in any peace making efforts
- American assurances regarding defense, and or ballistic missile attack
- American assurances regarding a nuclear umbrella
If Obama intends to impose a mideast solution, he will try to force concessions from us that do not deliver peace. Worse, this imposed settlement will require Israel to place its security in the hands of others, either NATO or the US in the deluded notion that they will protect Israeli interests. Clearly, they will not. We have seen how this has failed previously, UN forces on the Suez, UN forces in Lebanon. Not once have they ever secured security for Israel. They have only sought to tie Israel’s hands from ensuring its own security. This is the model Obama will seek when he pushes to impose a solution on any number of fronts.
The same can be said of Iran. We are being told not to strike and being given instead only American assurances. Such assurances are clearly worthless under this President. I am not being dramatic, polling shows Israelis do not trust the President, it is as simple as that. It may have been the case previously that Israelis would entertain allowing US forces or NATO forces to create a buffer between us & our enemies. Under this President who cannot be trusted this is no longer acceptable.
Whether it be Mid East peace, or more aptly titled Mid East concessions on land for no Peace.. Or the Iran threat, Obama has blown his own credibility with the people of Israel. His advisers whine about Netanyahu’s credibility as a peace maker, this is noise. They do so after we called for a two state solution, after we froze settlements, after we openly maintained since day one we are prepared for DIRECT talks with the Palestinians. The Administration seeks to cover not only its own evident failures by blaming others, but those of the Arab world and the Palestinians as well – It’s rather pitiful.
In reality it is their credibility which is now strained, not ours. We must act accordingly, we must now dig in for massive White House pressure on an imposed solution, up domestic support for Netanyahu, preserve the Labor / Likud coalition and prepare to strike Iran militarily. It is also likely Palestinian obstinacy will cause violent flare ups regionally, Hamas has already been emboldened by Obama’s appeasement, Hezbollah will not be far behind.
Obama may believe he seeks peace, in reality all his failed ideologies and strategies will lead to war. The more he pressures Americas allies while giving a free pass to her enemies, the higher the likelihood of violence. When it explodes, we will know whom to blame.
UPDATE: March 29th
Haaretz today adds the muscle to the analysis above, as Jerusalem sources confirm the belief that Obama now seeks to impose a mediated settlement, and has broken American commitments with Israel. The article also touches on the credibility gap I wrote about above.
Below, a commenter expresses his frustration over the Obama tactics of bait & switch regarding Jerusalem, something felt strongly here in Israel as well.
Long Range Infiltrators
A critical component of Israel’s long term TEFEN procurement program in the air involves what most would consider a fairly unglamorous transport upgrade. The Hercules class transports are more often than not looked upon as standard equipment and troop movers, a role the Hercules has been playing in numerous air forces for decades now.
Israel’s original SuperHercules C-130j procurement deal initially started in 2008, when the US Congress was notified by the Pentagon of an impending sale for up to 9 specially designed transports. Back in 2008 deliveries were expected to begin around the 2012 time frame. Haaretz now reports that there is (unconfirmed) movement this week on the transport deal – with Defense Minister Ehud Barak & PM Netanyahu having met with US defense officials..
As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in Washington this week absorbing the full wrath of the Obama administration, the Pentagon and Israel’s defense establishment were in the process of sealing a large arms deal.
According to the deal, Israel will purchase three new Hercules C-130J airplanes. The deal for the three aircrafts, designed by Lockheed Martin, is worth roughly a quarter billion dollars. Each aircraft costs $70 million. The aircrafts were manufactured specifically for Israeli needs, and include a large number of systems produced by Israel’s defense industry [...]
My understanding of these matters is that the Hercs would cost somewhat more, in the 100 million range mostly due to some serious upgrades above the Super Hercules’ already impressive renewed electrical & systems roster. The total package with optional aircraft over the multi-year deal was estimated to possibly reach 1.9 Billion dollars if all options were exercised.
Word was that we had asked Lockheed to equip the new Israeli transports with unique in flight air refueling capability to ‘extend their operational range’. This beyond the substantial modifications Israel has requested electronically to mate the transports with Israeli systems and electronic counter measures. These initial Hercs are clearly of the Special Operations variety designed for deep insertion & support roles for both men & matériel.
Drop & Mop
Israel has a long history of unique Hercules operational roles, the most famous being the Entebbe hostage rescue which saw Israel insert special forces all the way into Africa while taking over an international airport. If these reports are true, Israeli pressure to get this pre-Obama administration deal on track & moving would be a major coup and signal some cooperation between the IDF & Pentagon, as arms sales to Israel from the US have apparently been quite frozen on almost every level since Obama took office. Including helicopters, heavy ordinance JDAM bombs, electronics & reserve supplies of jet fuel for war contingencies.
Congress pledges support
Despite White House humiliation & Israeli arm twisting of late there is a tidal wave of congressional support to keep Israel on the cutting edge militarily, and supply us with assistance pledges built into the US Israel alliance. Just this week Nita Lowey, the powerful chairwoman of the US House appropriations subcommittee on foreign operations who oversees the military & aid packages for Israel re-iterated solidly that whatever rifts may develop with the White House, the military aid would still be forthcoming..
“There is no question in my mind that the 10-year memorandum of understanding is solid,” Nita Lowey, chairwoman of the US House appropriations subcommittee on foreign operations, said of the decade-long US aid plan under which $3 billion will be going to Israel this year. “There is strong bipartisan support for Israel in the Congress that will not falter.”
She said that continuing support is also in place when it comes to the US commitment to Israel maintaining a qualitative military edge over its Arab neighbors and other forms of military coordination.
“The military cooperation, the intelligence cooperation, the focus on Iran, is solid and strengthens every year,” said Lowey, who also sits on the House Intelligence and Homeland Security committees. [...]
With so much pressure coming out of the Obama admin these days, these displays of support & friendship are heartening to say the least. We require our ally’s help, SuperHercs & all.