Who’s still listening to Mark Penn?
Seriously, if the man wasn’t aware the Democratic primaries wasn’t winner-take-all, how can he possibly understand the Middle East?
Proving this point, Mr. Penn still thinks it’s the 1960s and the Middle East hasn’t changed. This is the foundation for his foreign policy advice to Pres. Obama, and another example of a political big shot failing upwards in politics, which happens every day in Washington.
It’s equally remarkable that Mark Penn is seen to still warrant a front page posting on Huffington Post. Honestly, after the debacle of 2008 primaries you’d think Penn would just be happy with profits and keeping a low profile instead of offering Pres. Obama advice he doesn’t need. Evidently Mr. Penn has blocked from his memory that Obama handed him his lunch back in 2008. (I left a comment over @Huffington Post, which says it all.)
I’m not quite sure if Penn is channeling conventional 20th century wisdom, AIPAC, or Allen Dershowitz, but his presidential council for Mr. Obama on Israel reads like someone who isn’t following the details in the Middle East, but instead is following the money that he can make by offering 20th century talking points that haven’t worked for years.
Never mind that this incompetent political consultant has no earthly clue how the United States is going to force Iran from producing a nuclear weapon, ignoring the reality that they’re years away from actually weaponization. One doubts Mr. Penn even gets this distinction.
From Mr. Penn, speaking to Pres. Obama:
4. Focus his tough rhetoric on Iran, not Israel. Look at the stakes here — Israel is building houses. Iran is building nuclear bombs. Preventing Iran from pulling off the Mideast game-changer of nuclear weapons must be foreign policy objective number one. A nuclear Iran sets back regional peace and replaces it with regional escalation. This is where we need to see even more shuttle diplomacy — finding creative ways to build a regional and global coalition that can be effective before it’s too late — and here too a chance to borrow from Kennedy, who drew bright lines in the sand when it came to nuclear threats.
It renders me close to speechless that Mr. Penn actually invoked the Cuban Missile Crisis and Kennedy as a corollary for today’s challenges with Iran. The man isn’t an idiot, so I only have to assume he thinks his Huffington Post readers are.
The Penn-Dershowitz crowd is using Iran to keep from having to deal with a reality they can’t say out loud or pronounce openly. The sharing of Jerusalem as joint capital of two nations, Israel and Palestine, in a Middle East that moves beyond the 20th century wingnut Iran Is Going Orchestrate a Second Holocaust fable.
One of the things that has played into their hands is that Pres. Obama’s line in the sand on settlements was made without the will to do anything about it when Prime Minister Netanyahu inevitably ignored him. Obama’s pronouncement, backed up by Sect. Clinton and others, was a strong moral and practical move that went further than others by making it a policy demand. Unfortunately, with an Israel first Congress, Pres. Obama is hamstrung.
Penn and others need to read the new report from CNAS, which explores an international force for Palestine. Though I realize even saying the word Palestine as if it was real, instead of accepting it’s an imperative to save Israel, gives the Penn contingent indigestion. Admitting their cluelessness doesn’t come easily. We all need to move from talking about Palestinians to language of Palestine.
From a foundation of security, the provision of social services and the construction of enduring state institutions can proceed. Security for Israel from Palestinian terror is the sine qua non for Israeli policymakers taking steps necessary for the establishment of a Palestinian state. An international force could address legitimate Israeli security concerns while enabling decisions on more controversial issues — such as Israeli settlements. If Israelis and the rest of the international community could be assured that a future Palestinian state would contribute to the stability of the Levant, and not further instability, the establishment of a Palestinian state would become easier to support openly in word and in deed.
The idea of an international force is not new, of course. The Clinton Parameters of December 2000 included discussion of “an international presence that can only be withdrawn by mutual consent” which would “monitor the implementation of the agreement between both sides.” The idea was floated by Tom Friedman several times back in the violent days of 2001-02 as “a way out of the Middle East impasse.” A 2005 RAND study of how to build a Palestinian state included a chapter on an international force. Current National Security Adviser James Jones reportedly floated the idea several times towards the end of the Bush administration — to generally hostile response. This report builds on those discussions, looking to comparative cases and the current political and strategic context to offer up a number of sharp recommendations for what kind of international force would be needed were one chosen.
Now, I don’t expect Mr. Penn to actually educate himself on the Middle East, let alone the realities of establishing the atmosphere for Palestine to take root. To believe that security for peace is actually a start to making Israel more secure not less.
However, giving Pres. Obama advice on Israel, but especially politics, takes arrogance Mark Penn hasn’t earned.