Thursday, October 15, 2009

Obama's Outreach about to self-destruct?

The UN Human Rights Council vote on the Goldstone report evidently is going to go forward, and will win handily.  Britain apparently is going to abstain; Netanyahu has had a "robust exchange" with Gordon Brown over the matter, and is threatening to shut down the peace process.  That, of course, is laughable, because the peace process over the last few years has been a complete sham.  Sharon didn't really want one, Netanyahu doesn't really want one, but Obama wants one, so George Mitchell has been shuttled back and forth in a grandiose exercise in chasing his own tail.

When the US votes tomorrow against the resolution to accept the report, the last few tattered shred of  credibility still hanging onto Obama's outreach to the Arab world, especially among the Palestinians (and also among many Iranians),  will go "blowing in the wind."  This is hugely unfortunate, because his heart and mind are, I firmly believe, in the right place, but to maintain any momentum on other elements of his large and ambitious agenda, he has to play ball with certain powers that be in Congress and the American countryside, and among the opinion-shaping so-called moderate punditocracy (say, Thomas Friedman, David Brooks, David Ignatius). None of the fore-mentioned would stand for Obama to truly hold Netanyahu's feet to the fire, even in the manner that George H. W. Bush did by rejecting loan guarantees to Israel 20 years ago.  The Israeli leadership as now constituted might never be induced to enter an authentic, realistic peace process anyway, but there is absolutely zero chance of that if the US political leadership can't summon the will and courage to confront them with an ultimatum, or at least some kind of offer that they couldn't refuse without the US completely abandoning them - a fate that, in my opinion, Israel has long and richly deserved.

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