Tag Archives: Obama administration


Blog 332 January 9, 2017

My, my! What a difference a few days can make!

As the year ended, the Obama administration failed to keep Israel out of hot water at the United Nations over the continued expansion of settlements. Sounded like a payoff to Netanyahu for by-passing the President when he went over his head to Congress. Obama got the final slap – for the moment.

What’s really going? In fact, it’s all more complicated that it appears to be. How you read the situation depends on where you stand politically.

The nay-sayers remind Netanyahu than somewhere around 40% of Israeli citizens do not approve of what the Prime Minister is doing by increasing settlements. They point out that his actions are illegal and believe he is only complicating the peace process. They see Netanyahu as becoming increasing dictatorial and disconnected from the international scene which is dangerous for the state of Israel.

Those supporting Netanyahu’s actions say he is building a defensive perimeter to stand against Palestinian attacks on innocent Israeli citizens. Keeping Israel secure demands pushing attackers further away. When Ariel Sharon withdrew Israel from Gaza, their country got nothing but more rocket attacks. Now look at where the Gaza strip is today. One big pile of smashed concrete!

Actually, President Obama’s opposition to settlements in the Palestinian area is not new and extends back to the Reagan years. Obama did not decrease financial aid to Israel’s military.

Responsible voices are increasingly saying that a two-state solution is already dead. The incoming Trump administration appears to be moving in that direction. Hamas controls Gaza. Supposed Palestinian leader Abbas and his Fatah party are essentially delegitimized and continue to exist only because they are propped up by the West. Who do you negotiate with? A terrorist organization or an ineffective political party?

Israel has many good reasons not to negotiate including Arafat’s walking out on a deal to establish a state, on to murderous assaults by knife-swinging Palestinian assailants.

The larger problem has been noted by David A. Andelman journalist and contributor to USA Today. He sees the risk of Israel becoming a global pariah on the scale of South Africa during the apartheid era. Andelman believes this would also drag America into the abyss because of the US’s close relationship to Israel.

Netanyahu’s current policies could jeopardize Isreal’s position as one of the world’s most technologically innovative countries. Israel is at the top of the ladder in research and production of such items as flash drives (the one you use was invented in Israel).

At this point, the world is not on Israel’s side. The U.N. Security Council’s vote was unanimous only with abstentions. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu better take a second look.


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Filed under America, Israel, middle east


            For the last few months I have been pointing out that the current administration appears to have no strategy for the Middle East. The Obama administration fumbled in Egypt and couldn’t seem to be able to make up its mind whether the coup was a public uprising – or really a coup. To avoid cutting off funding, they finally decided it wasn’t a coup – after the entire world knew it was a military coup. Even worse indecision paralyzed any action in Syria until Putin pulled Obama off the hot seat. Following that mess, Israel declared they would go it alone in responding to Iran’s nuclear program (Because they couldn’t count on the Obama administration to act with any backbone) My question has been, “where is this going and are greater disasters ahead.”

            For the first time, we are now catching a glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel. Sunday, October 27th New York Times had a front page story detailing where the Obama administration now seems to be headed. Entitled “Rice Offers A More Modest Strategy for Mideast,” the story describes the influence of former Ambassador Susan E. Rice’s term that have now articulated an American position in the Middle East.

Ms. Rice has now made it clear that there are limits on what the United States will do to nurture democracy in countries like Egypt, Libya, Yemen, etc. George Bush promised to raise the flag and start democracy in Iraqi. We now know how disastrous that idea was as religious war continues. Some voices will decry this change as a retreat from responsibility, but it reflects a new realism. The United States has learned that an educated and informed electorate is necessary. Many parts of the Muslim world simply prefer a religious system with imams at the top. However, the shift reflects President Obama’s personal concern that Middle East events could swallow his foreign policy agenda as it did with Bush.

Obama appears to be embracing pragmatism while eschewing military force except in a direct attack on American soil. The American public will embrace backing away from war. However, making this position a known policy has its problems as it does appear retreating from where the country has been. Holding back also makes the administration venerable  to being  kicked back forth between crises.

It is clear:

  1. America will make settling the Iranian nuclear issue a priority.
  2. Creating peace between Israel and Palestine remains at the top of the list.
  3. More attention will be given to Asia.

The situation in Egypt remains up for grabs and the administration still remain uncertain about how to respond. They will allow the turmoil in that country to settle before acting.

Both Israel and Saudi Arabia appear to be backing away from their previous positions as major allies. Not good.

Is the new Obama position an improvement? Only time will tell.

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Filed under America, Israel, middle east, Palestinians