Sunday, December 12, 2010

Feeble And Pliant

As I've said several times in the past, there are several reasons I go over to Watching America each week. First of all, it's a good bet that I'll find information about the US there that I won't get in any American papers. Equally as important, however, is that those international articles give some indication of just how the US is viewed by friends and not-such-friends around the world on any given issue. It is the latter point that I was drawn to today.

This editorial in the Arab News (Saudi Arabia) assesses the latest state of the US-led peace talks between the Palestinians and Israel as an epic fail.

Washington’s decision that it will no longer attempt to persuade the Israelis to impose a new moratorium on settlement construction in order to restart peace negotiations is an abject and shocking admission of failure. Everyone knew that that the Americans had serious difficulties trying to persuade the Israelis to concede on this vital issue. But there was wide belief that an ingenious diplomatic formula could be devised to enable talks to go ahead. No one imagined that President Barack Obama would simply capitulate to the Israelis. That is what has happened. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has refused to concede on the matter and, rather than try to use the financial and political force the US has to make him change his mind, Obama has thrown in the towel. Never in the history of US-Israeli relations has a US president been so feeble or so pliant. ...

The US response was also critical. It can no longer justify that position. The time has come for the Arab states, through the Arab League that meets in the next couple of days to respond to the American announcement, to formally tell the US that its Middle East policy is a failure. It should also tell it that since it is not prepared to help find a just and workable solution, it has forfeited any right to hinder attempts by others to do so. Washington will not like it, but it has abandoned all semblances of integrity and responsibility in the matter.
[Emphasis added]

The descriptor "feeble and pliant" would apply to this president's domestic efforts as well as his diplomatic ones. Healthcare reform and the recent tax cut extension deals are prime evidence of that. But in the crucial Middle East arena, that approach could be cataclysmic in ways the president apparently has not considered. When Prime Minister Netanyahu refused to impose a moratorium on new settlements, the White House did have options to bring pressure to bear on the recalcitrant leader, chief of which was the ending of matching grants of military weapons. Instead, President Obama blinked. And then he shrugged and turned away, like a crippled old man just spat upon by a local thug.

The editorial calls upon the rest of the world to step in by formally recognizing the Palestine State with all that entails. It also calls upon the Arab League to step up and take the place of the US in the morass the peace talks have become. Since the US has shown such an unwillingness to challenge the current Israeli leadership, it should indeed step down. If it will not lead, then the least it can do is get out of the way.

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