David Calling

Presidential Mistakes

President Obama is reported as saying that American policy towards Israel is “costing us significantly in blood and treasure.” First mistake. It’s the other way round, Israel is holding the front line against Iran whose power is spreading through the region via Syria, Hizbollah and Hamas. If Israel was not holding the line, then the United States would face a most uncomfortable choice: either to tackle Iran head-on or concede that Pax Americana didn’t work and it is time to withdraw from the Middle East with as little ignominy as possible.

From his way of thinking, Obama goes on to conclude that Israeli-Palestinian peace holds the key to Middle East stability. Second mistake. If there was genuine peace tomorrow and a state of Palestine, it would make no difference to the Sunni-Shia divide, to the ambitions of Osama bin Laden or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to the civil war in Yemen, to the sectarian conflict in Lebanon, to the hard-wired despots in Egypt and Syria, and so on and on.

Obama also thinks that this projected state of Palestine is a practical proposition. Third mistake. The Palestinians are irremediably divided between Fatah and Hamas, and a state would trigger civil war to determine which faction would own it.

And from all this bog of misconception and ignorance, Obama finally is weighing using his presidency to impose some solution on Israel. Fourth mistake. No such solution exists. Any attempt at imposition would oblige Israel to see its existence now an urgent issue of self-defence and survival. The consequences boggle the imagination.

In the White House, it seems, someone likes playing with fire.

David Pryce-Jones is a British author and commentator and a senior editor of National Review.

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