The last Morning Jolt of the week is dominated by discussion of Obama’s Middle East speech, but there are bits on CIA leaking and the filbuster against Goodwin Liu.
Obama Gives Speech; All Middle East Conflict Ceases Forever
Oh, good, another big speech from President Obama. Because they always have a big impact — particularly when they’re about the Middle East!
I think the entire discussion of a Middle East peace process is a little bizarre, particularly when folks — usually on the left — seem to suggest that peace is just a matter of presidential effort. “The president needs to recommit himself to the peace process” or “we need to see a hard push from the White House,” and such. You don’t see much discussion that the President of the United States could somehow bring peace between North Korea and South Korea, or between China and Taiwan, or between Russia and its neighbors. Rarely do you see a call for a special White House envoy to Kashmir to bring peace between India and Pakistan. An effort in most of those cases would be deemed a long-shot and perhaps laughably naïve; the two parties themselves would have to conclude that they lost more through continued conflict than they could ever win through the current conflict. Absent that, any effort by an American administration would be grandstanding and meddling and probably just make things worse. Yet somehow, in the Middle East, there’s this perception that if Washington is just somehow clever enough at drawing lines on a map, a centuries-old hostility will end.
Moe Lane was particularly livid over Obama’s seemingly moral equivalency: “One side (Israel) is a functional, prosperous, and legitimate democratic republic which also happened to be (prior to you) an ally; the other (the PA) is run by terrorists who cheer when their supporters sneak into people’s homes and murder babies. I can tell the difference: I am disgusted, yet, unsurprised, that you cannot.”
At Hot Air, Ed Morrissey wonders where the beef is: “Barack Obama showed up a half-hour late, and once again used the self-promoted White House occasion to say nothing specific, and nothing new. Even in the most specific part of the speech, regarding the American position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Obama offered nothing new. The entire speech could easily have been delivered by George W. Bush in its commendable but hardly inspirational cheering of democratization, which foundered on Obama’s decision to task Bashar Assad with leading democratic reform in Syria . . . The biggest problem for this speech isn’t Obama’s continuing confusion on working with antagonists and antagonizing allies, or the regurgitation of general principles for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It’s that the White House once again inflated expectations for a major address just to deliver routine white-paper positions and lip service on democratization. The speech was nothing special at all, one that a deputy secretary at the State Department could have just as easily covered.”
At Contentions, Jonathan Tobin makes the case that the speech was actually quite radical, and bad for Israel: “Establishing the 1967 lines as the near-sacred starting point for negotiations means that rather than Israel’s presence in Jerusalem and in parts of the territories as a given, the Jewish state will have to fight for this land in the context of peace talks where its presence there has already been branded as illegitimate. Just like his previous demands for unilateral Israeli concessions such as the settlement freeze, Obama’s endorsement of the 1967 lines means no Palestinian negotiator will ever agree to Israel holding onto an inch of land in Jerusalem or the West Bank. Obama’s embrace of the 1967 borders will also make it easier, not harder, to win United Nations approval of a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state without peace talks or recognition of Israel. Even worse, his statement will buttress the efforts of those who will argue after such a resolution is passed that Israel’s presence in Jerusalem and the territories is illegal. Although no American government has ever formally recognized Israel’s right to hold onto territory won in June 1967, Obama’s embrace of the ’67 lines (like the his previous condemnation of Jewish building in Jerusalem as illegal) is unprecedented. It tilts the diplomatic playing field even further in the direction of the Palestinians. Though he, and his supporters, insist that his speech will help Israel and ensure its future, he has done nothing of the kind.”