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Obama Misjudges His Misjudgment

Time magazine reports:

In an exclusive interview published this week in Time magazine, U.S. President Barack Obama admits he erred during his first year in office by raising too high expectations of a Middle East breakthrough.
“I’ll be honest with you, this is just really hard,” Obama said when asked about the Middle East…
“This is as intractable a problem as you get,” Obama said. While Jerusalem showed a willingness “after a lot of time” to make “some modifications” in policy, it “still found it very hard to move with any bold gestures.” …
“I think it is absolutely true that what we did this year didn’t produce the kind of breakthrough that we wanted, and if we had anticipated some of these political problems on both sides earlier, we might not have raised expectations as high,” Obama said.

Based on his record so far, Obama is proving to be the most naïve president for decades regarding foreign policy.
As I have written before on NRO and elsewhere, his initial policies toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were very unhelpful to both Israeli and Palestinian moderates. Luckily both groups ignored him, and Obama’s first year in office, from late January 2009 until the present, turned out to be one of the healthiest for Israelis and Palestinians in over 15 years – not that Obama seems to grasp this.
Among the factors that made the first 12 months of Obama’s presidency better for peace prospects (for those of us who want a two-state solution) than previous years:
* There was less violence both between Israelis and Palestinians, and between Palestinians and Palestinians, than there has been for years.
* 2009 was the first year without any successful suicide bombs against Israel for a long time.
* The Palestinian security forces in the West Bank have finally started to behave as a security force rather than as a terrorist group.
* There was strong economic growth in both Israel and the Palestinian territories relative to most of the rest of the world, for which 2009 was a bleak year.
* A Likud leader recognized the principle of an independent Palestinian state.
* Benjamin Netanyahu made the most sweeping freeze on Israeli settlement building in the West Bank since 1967.
Yet Obama and his advisers have now gone from being ridiculously optimistic to becoming ridiculously pessimistic.

Tom GrossTom Gross is a former Middle East correspondent for the London Sunday Telegraph and the New York Daily News.


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