By Sam Foster
So apparently, "Smart Power" is a cool, but pretty much useless term used to define a backwards and self-defeating foreign policy. Today's article in the Politico, has so many one-liners on Obama's Middle East foreign policy, someone had to chronicle it.
So here is what Israel and Palestine think of Obama's foreign policy efforts:
“He’s like rain,” said a top Israeli official involved in diplomacy with the U.S., speaking of Obama’s role in negotiations. “You can do all kinds of things to cope with it.”
“Each of them has exacerbated the mistakes of the other,” said Michael Herzog, a retired general who still plays an informal role advising Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s negotiators. He worries that the result of the bumbling could be “disastrous: people will lose hope in the possibility of a two-state solution.”
Israelis really hate Obama’s guts,” said Shmuel Rosner, a columnist for two leading Israeli newspapers. “We used to trust Americans to act like Americans, and this guy is like a European leader.”
“The naïve liberals who are at the heart of the administration really believe in all the misconceptions the Palestinians and all their friends all over the world are trying to place,” said Yossi Kuperwasser, a former high-ranking military intelligence officer who is now deputy director general of the Ministry of Strategic Affairs.
“It drives me crazy. Who cares that his middle name is Hussein? It’s the last thing we care about. [To suggest that] is just anti-Semitism,” he said. “There is one reason why we are hesitant about this guy: he doesn’t understand us.”
“If Obama wanted to be a transformational figure, he would never have led with the settlements,” said Eyal Arad, the architect of Livni’s campaign for prime minister. He argues – like most Israelis – that Obama inadvertently got talks hung up on a matter of irrelevant principle, rather than engaging the reality that some settlements can stay while others must go.
“The settlements were pushed by a bunch of left-wingers who were out of sync with the realities and were out of government too long,” he said. “The irony is that Obama went directly back to the place where George Bush the father left off.”
“The whole focus on final status isn’t compatible with the political reality on the Israel side and the Palestinian side,” he said, arguing that a better option is a regime under which Israeli and Palestinian leaders would build the Palestinian economy, remove far-flung settlements and strengthen a de facto Palestinian state “as a tunnel to final status.”
To him, the endless talks about talks are a distraction. As for Obama, he said, “You have to create a crisis that serves an end. This crisis today – I don’t know what it’s serving.”
Abbas and other Palestinian leaders are “personally fed up with the whole thing,” he said, and “losing faith in the process, both with the Israeli willingness to deliver and the Americans’ ability to deliver the Israelis.”
“Obama’s biggest problem is that we don’t buy what he’s selling, and that is hope,” said one Israeli veteran of past negotiations. “There’s this sincerity about the American approach that is heartbreaking to watch.”
I sense our Man-child President is having a Mantrum this morning.