New foreign policy for a new century
Well, forget the old attempts at elegance and dignity in foreign policy. We are seeing something not exactly coherent or commonsensical.
So this is supposed to be a "new world" after the fall elections. So we were told we will be seeing daring new policies for everything --from the Tea Partiers' domestic policies to the Obama foreign policy. So, what are we seeing? Well, forget the old attempts at elegance and dignity in foreign policy. We are seeing something not exactly coherent or commonsensical.
Take first the administration's new policy on Israel and the Palestinians, and the peace process that has stretched out such a long time that one could wonder if it actually started with the Queen of Sheba. After nearly two long years of proclaiming the Middle East his primary quest for peace, President Obama --and perhaps even more so, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton --has come out with a policy so devoid of common sense as to make any reasonably intelligent person tremble with disbelief.
In mid-November, the "American proposal" emerged from the Clinton State Department after perhaps too many meetings with ultra-rightist Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Under what might better be called the "Israeli proposal," Israel would freeze settlement activity in the West Bank -- although not in East Jerusalem, where the Palestinians have always planned to have their capital, and FOR ONLY 90 DAYS! In return, Israel would receive F-35 jets worth $3 billion, a pledge by Americans to veto Palestinian efforts to gain statehood recognition through the U.N. for at least a year and --most important -assurances that the Obama administration would not press Israel for any further settlement moratorium. Think about this! The United States is --or was supposed to be --the infinitely stronger state of the two. Israel is dependent upon Washington. We are talking about a peace process to help them, not us. Yet the administration not only overwhelmed Israel with military goodies, but promised, after 90 days, to not press Israel again to stop building settlements. So all Israel has to do is filibuster or sabotage the negotiations for 90 days and --bingo! --it's all over.
Is it possible that our secretary of State and others around here and in the White House could be so naive as to not understand this example of rudimentary Machiavellianism? Next we have the new release of a quarter-million (yep, and that's a lot!) supersensitive American diplomatic documents through this strange Australian-formed group WikiLeaks. From what I hear, since I haven't exactly had time to read the quarter-million, quite a bit is revealed. The documents show how Arab leaders were largely in agreement with Israel in wanting to curb Iran's nuclear development, even if it involved military actions. One cable showed that U.S. intelligence believes Iran has obtained from North Korea, another nuclear threat, powerful missiles able to attack European capitals. But my favorite is one from April 2008, which has Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah telling the U.S. to "cut off the head of the snake," the snake, of course, being Iran. Just as we were trying to pull all of this together in our addled brains --and trying to figure out just what terrible things the new Tea Party members of Congress are going to do in foreign policy -here come the North Koreans, bombing a South Korean island near the parallel that divides the two countries. It is horrible, it is tragic, and it makes you want to take out Pyongyang (although it's probably not worth it), but it is also what North Korea's greatand/ or-dearest-beloved-leaderof-the-moment can be depended upon to do about every two years. It is sort of a reminder that he is still around. This time, as in previous altercations between North and South, American commentators on television widely used the situation to make the point that we were incapable of responding to the attack on the island because North Korea is a nuclear state.