Thursday, May 19, 2011

Obama's Mideast Speech

I found nothing particularly surprising in the president's speech. It was the sort of thing I would expect from someone whose foreign policy ideas are based largely on an exaggerated notion of the power of talking and on wishful thinking. Like some freedom agenda promoters on the right, Obama seems oblivious to the fact that democracy in other states is not necessarily in the U.S. interest. He dismisses such concerns as temporary, and exhibits a sort of childlike faith in democracy. As usual he shows no understanding of the difference between the collapse of regimes favorable to the U.S., and of those who are hostile.

Obama's remark about using the 1967 borders as a basis for negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians has stirred up a hornets' nest. Jeffrey Goldberg at the Atlantic points out that this idea is nothing new to U.S. policy.
This has been the basic idea for at least 12 years. This is what Bill Clinton, Ehud Barak and Yasser Arafat were talking about at Camp David, and later, at Taba. This is what George W. Bush was talking about with Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert. So what's the huge deal here? Is there any non-delusional Israeli who doesn't think that the 1967 border won't serve as the rough outline of the new Palestinian state?
As I wrote in the previous post, I think a Palestinian state is a very bad idea and should not be U.S. policy. But I agree with Goldberg that there has been an overreaction to this particular comment by Obama. The whole so-called "peace process" has been a bad joke for a long time.

Much more disturbing than the comment about the 1967 borders, is Obama's call to spend even more U.S. money in the region -- as if we aren't spending enough already. In Obama's world, there is nothing that can't be improved by more government spending, and this applies externally as well as internally.
We will continue to make good on the commitments that I made in Cairo – to build networks of entrepreneurs, and expand exchanges in education; to foster cooperation in science and technology, and combat disease. Across the region, we intend to provide assistance to civil society
He goes on to give a laundry list of things we are going to be wasting money on, no doubt in many cases to the benefit of people who despise us.


  1. "The whole so-called "peace process" has been a bad joke for a long time." Agreed. Given the history of that little section of
    the levant, there appears no real
    solution. We may be wasting time and money there, but it is a critical place and we will probably continue for the next dozens of years.

  2. True. I know we have to try to keep a lid on things in the Middle East, but that doesn't require grandiose plans and spending based on wishful thinking.