It seems that gifts are about to be showered on Israel, by the Obama administration that is so anxious to get some action on ceasing Israeli activity in the West Bank. On anyone’s accounting the gifts are extremely substantial. There is a good article about this at the Sabbah site by, Lawrence Davidson who is professor of history at West Chester University. He is the author of numerous books, including Islamic Fundamentalism and America’s Palestine: Popular and Official Perceptions from Balfour to Israeli Statehood. (link) The article is titled, “Obama Plays the Fox” (George Ikners ikners.com Joomla)
The basic proposition made by and examined in the article is,” On Saturday, 20 December a State Department spokesperson announced that the United States government is actively negotiating with Israel the price of a proposed 90 day cessation of settlement activity on the West Bank (excluding East Jerusalem). It is reported that the Israelis are demanding two things be given them free of charge: twenty stealth fighters (worth $3 billion dollars)and the release of the spy, Jonathan Pollard. On this latter demand it is to be noted that in a letter to President Obama, 39 Democratic members of Congress asked that the President grant Pollard clemency. These are the things that Israel has asked for. Then there are the things that the White House has offered voluntarily: among them is a promise to veto any Security Council resolutions hostile to Israel which is, after all, standard operating procedure for Washington and, more significantly, not to ask the Israelis for any further settlement freezes.”
Rather than being some act of cowardice by Obama Davidson sees the position as being one where, “It is not so hard to see what is going on here. The President of the United States (playing Machiavelli’s fox) is setting out to ensnare the ersatz President of Palestine who, as usual, has been completely cut out of the present discussions between the U.S. and Israel. As to the near future, here is scenario for which Obama may aim:
First: The price of this brief settlement moratorium will be finalized in a written document. The Israelis will probably get their stealth fighters but are unlikely to get Pollard. The aircraft are traditional, if expensive, give aways. But giving up Pollard has always been adamantly opposed by the American intelligence services and no previous president has risked the serious demoralization of those agencies by doing so. Obama will probably not take that risk either, but then, I would be hesitant to bet on this.
Second: Netanyahu will get his security cabinet to approve the U.S. incentive package by negotiating abstentions from those, such as the representatives of Shas, who do not want to vote for the deal.
Third: The Americans will go to Abbas (who is already feeling the walls closing in on him) and demand that he come back to the table. Abbas is so dependent on Washington for everything from the salaries of his bureaucrats to the guns used by his militia that he would have to dig pretty deep into his soul to find any principle to stand on. Maybe he too will ask for an incentive package to ease the way around a principled stand, and perhaps he will be thrown some sort of bone.
Fourth: Having been dragged kicking and screaming (at least for public appearance sake) back to the table, Abbas and his negotiators will then be trapped. They will be officially tied to a 90 day clock. They will agree to a deal within that time period or, having seriously embarrassed President of the United States (who has pledged himself to seek no further delays in settlement activity), they will be abandoned, which has always been the threat from Washington. It is a lose-lose deal and Abbas probably knows it. But he is not Yasser Arafat and, in the end, despite loud protests, he is unlikely to have the courage to just walk away.”
What he says is that despite the fact that a settlement not being possible in 90 days what Obama sees as ‘progress’ can be made. That would in some way clear the decks as far as some criticism is concerned and probably reduce the inherent heat in the situation, in other words; it is all empty Obama rhetoric as usual played out in a political arena.
As part of a legacy of this approach Davidson sees the position by asking, “What are we to make of this possible strategy?”
The answer or explanation Davidson sees as reasonable is that, “Well, it is a testimony to where political “realism” can take you. And, that is most likely how President Obama sees himself, as a realist. The New York Times editorial writer Paul Krugman has quoted Obama’s political adviser, David Axelrod, as describing the president’s present state of mind, “We have to deal with the world as we find it.” This, of course, is a mask behind which stands a president who has never really been a fighter. Rather, he has always been a “realist” following on the maxim that politics is the art of the possible. Obama seems not to realize that what is possible has something to do with where he decides to draw the line, lay down a principled stand beyond which he will not go. As Krugman observed, the president has always believed in the magical possibilities of consensus building. Alas, he does not seem to care very much with whom he builds consensus or what it gives us once arrived at.
So President Obama is not a visionary. That sort of rhetoric he leaves to his speech writers. He is a rather naive fox. He sets snares for others and perhaps he senses the snares laid out for him by his adversaries. However, he does not have the lion-like qualities that Machiavelli tells us a leader must have to fend off the wolves. Rather than fight wolves he prefers to bargain with them. The wolves in this case are the Israelis and those who now lead the Republican party. So this is Obama’s problem, he is an articulate and clever man, but not a courageous one. Such men do not usually win against the wolves. They do not achieve real answers to our problems. They only produce feeble, short-lived consensus. That is a road that can only circle back upon itself.
This is a valuable article and bearing in mind the credentials of the writer well worth reading.
George Ikners ikners.com Joomla