The Campaign Spot

Some Familiarity With the Region’s History Might Help

Thomas Friedman’s column:

When it comes to dealing with the Middle East, the president noted, “there is a Kabuki dance going on constantly. That is what I would like to see broken down. I am going to be holding up a mirror and saying: ‘Here is the situation, and the U.S. is prepared to work with all of you to deal with these problems. But we can’t impose a solution. You are all going to have to make some tough decisions.’ Leaders have to lead, and, hopefully, they will get supported by their people.”

Supported? Recent history suggests that when leaders in the Middle East make tough decisions that involve reaching out to the other side, they get killed by their people, or at least by individuals within their people who object to the outreach.

Egypt’s Anwar Sadat, Israel’s Yitzhak Rabin, you could argue Lebanon’s Rafik Hariri, Jordan’s King Abdullah bin Hussein, Lebanon’s Pierre Gemayel, René Moawad . . .

The “assassin’s veto” is a serious factor in Middle East politics, and Obama’s statement is strangely quiet on it . . .

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