The Campaign Spot

When Do Obama’s Foreign-Policy Successes Start?

As usual, subscribe, subscribe, subscribe . . . There’s much more, including health care, but I figure you’re tired of that. From this morning’s Jolt:

Obama’s Israeli Policy Follows the Success of Our Iran, India, Russia, Czech, Poland, Japan and Great Britain Policies

The Economist: “Friends have spats, but this seems to be more than that. America has not simply accepted Mr Netanyahu’s prompt apology. Opinion in the administration is said to be divided. Mr Biden himself and many State Department officials, together with George Mitchell, who was to have supervised the now-stalled proximity talks, advised cooling things down. But, whether out of rage or calculation, Mr Obama and Mrs Clinton preferred to escalate.”

Boy, there’s a reassuring calculation about what drives our policy choices, huh? 50/50 shot this is deliberate or we’re just lashing out at blind rage at the one ally in the region we would trust in a back-alley knife fight. And how utterly screwed are we when Joe Biden has become the voice of reason on Middle East policy?

The headline in Haaretz is “Netanyahu’s brother-in-law: Obama is an anti-Semite” but the story actually quotes him as saying Obama is “anti-Israel.” I don’t think the terms are quite the same, although the middle portion of that venn diagram is pretty big.  Is Obama an anti-Semite? Well, the chief of staff being former IDF and the indispensability of Axelrod would appear to dispel that notion. But whether Obama is anti-Israel is a fairer question, and I think it’s increasingly safe to say that Obama is no particular friend of Israel and is no longer all that worried about being seen as neutral or worse on Israel.

Jen Rubin: “The answer is that Obama seeks to ingratiate himself with the thug-ocracies and put the screws on Israel. The answer is that Obama views Israeli actions not in the best possible light, as one would expect a valued friend to do, but in the worst possible light. And the answer is that neither Obama nor his administration can think through the implications of their actions (Will acquiescence work with Syria? Will bullying win over the Israelis?) or appreciate the moral distinction between a democratic friend and a rogue state. They are both morally obtuse and politically (domestically and internationally) tone-deaf.”

Bingo. Obama sees himself as this grand peacemaker, who stands above the petty conflicts of others and bridges the warring sides. Of course, if you stand above disputes, you don’t take sides, and thus you see the functioning democracy and western values of Israel as morally indistinguishable from the vast underage suicide bomber academy that is Palestinian society. I hit the roof when my little guy throws a Thomas the Tank engine; halfway around the world, some Palestianan Papa is offering his son tips on how to throw the rock most powerfully when he runs in front of an Israeli tank.

The subtext of the Kagan column from yesterday was pretty clear: all around the world, we’re spitting on our allies and groveling before our enemies and the most hostile states. For two years, we argued that the world didn’t work the way Obama said it did; now we’re getting to see the results.