Thursday, March 11, 2010

Fallout: The Snub to end all Snubs

A collection of (largely) American reactions to Israel's cutting the rug from under Vice President Biden on his trip to Israel this week.

Mondoweiss is ecstatic:
The Netanyahu insult to Joe Biden is the greatest thing that ever happened. It has woken a lot of people up, maybe including Joe Biden, who is streetsmart, and will allow the mainstream press in the US to finally question the special relationship and what it is doing to the American interest.
Or, the American media could question how Obama could screw up the "special relationship" so royally, and what he can do to get the peace process back on track. Here's a selection of responses from NYT's Room for Debate: Israel's Challenge to the US that basically say just that.

The face-saving leaks begin:
People who heard what Biden said were stunned. “This is starting to get dangerous for us,” Biden castigated his interlocutors. “What you’re doing here undermines the security of our troops who are fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. That endangers us and it endangers regional peace.”

The vice president told his Israeli hosts that since many people in the Muslim world perceived a connection between Israel’s actions and US policy, any decision about construction that undermines Palestinian rights in East Jerusalem could have an impact on the personal safety of American troops fighting against Islamic terrorism.
That sounds serious! Of course, everyone knows that Islamic extremists are barely containing themselves, peacefully biding their time for one more excuse - just one more! - to retaliate against 150,000 American combat forces currently occupying two Muslim countries, as American drones attacks pile up civilian bodies in a third. Jews building homes in Jerusalem, three thousand miles from Afghanistan, will break the camel's back, as it were. Right.

Juan Cole rants off the cuff:
Obama's Mideast policy lies in tatters this morning and US credibility as a broker of any future settlement was deeply wounded. [...] Obama is in real danger of seeing his allies lose respect for the United States once they see that Israel can treat him in this humiliating way with impunity.
That's pure comedy. Israel is just about the last country on earth to humiliate Obama, and mildly. The "snub" list now stretches through Europe, Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran, Venezuela, even Cuba! Oh, that insolent Israel, daring to build apartment buildings in its national capital.

Stephen Walt is consistent:
America’s “special relationship” with Israel has insulated the latter from the consequences of its own follies. The original Zionists faced a more challenging environment and usually acted with great adroitness, consistency of purpose and imagination, while their successors in recent decades have been able to misbehave in part because Uncle Sam was always there to provide support and diplomatic cover.
There is truth in this. Leaving Hezbollah and Hamas intact were acts of folly. Israel dealt more permanent blows that positively transformed its geopolitical space when it had no "great power" backer to constrain its actions. I'd like to get back to Walt some other time, as I'm examining something he once wrote.

Finally, Andrew "Assisted Suicide" Sullivan:
Cut off loan guarantees, suspend aid, threaten to remove the UN veto. But none of this has a chance to happening except the latter. The Congress won't allow it - because the GOP's Christianist wing wants a greater Israel to hasten Armeggedon and because the Democrats are so scared of AIPAC.
Yes, that and 63% of the US population, and an increasingly unpopular President that probably still wants to get something, anything, done in the Middle East and hopefully will have learned some lessons about carelessly pushing around allies.

1 comment:

  1. maybe it is all a big smoke screen
    imagine Obama saying to Netanyahu:
    buddy I know I screwed up in Cairo - can you help me out of the bind by behaving uppity during Joe's visit?
    ... and isn't it amazing that Slate is having a special section on Joe Biden's gaffes but once he says harsh things to Israel nobody wonders whether it might have been a gaffe - then he is all of a sudden the super-skilled faultless etc etc.

    I had a good giggle on Sullivan misspelling Armageddon - btw here is something "nice" he wrote about Obama the other day:

    "he appeared as a lithe and nimble, cat-like creature."

    now that women have largely succeeded in weaning men from calling us creatures they start doing it on their own kind


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