“It’s one thing for people to think that you’re crazy, but it’s bad when they think you’re incompetent and crazy, and that’s the way we look.” – Israeli general, via Jeffrey Goldberg
Goldberg links to the same article in Haaretz that I did late yesterday.
Talking about Israeli reaction, Goldberg cites the political machine of the “freedom flotilla.” That’s what is so alarming and frustrating about the IDF’s reaction.
Facing a furious international dispute and widespread condemnation, Israel on Wednesday began expelling hundreds of activists seized from a flotilla of ships challenging its three-year blockade of Gaza. – Israel Begins to Expel Activists It Seized on Flotilla
It takes wiser leaders than are currently being coddled in Israel today to fight the Middle East political battles, instead of being sucked into a situation where Israel reacts exactly as their enemies hope.
Unfortunately, Pres. Obama is also looking out of control in the exchange. I agree wholeheartedly with Steve Clemons, because Obama didn’t have any plan beyond threats about settlements. He was under the naive impression that laying down his word would be enough. It’s cost him dearly and put him on his heels:
…Obama’s equation for moving Middle East peace forward was just too quaint and simple. Even though Israel is completely dependent on American security guarantees and aid and is genuinely a client state of the United States, the pugnacious prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, flamboyantly rebuffed Obama’s call to stop settlements. Obama, with some twisting and modification of his position, has essentially forfeited the match to Netanyahu.
During the early part of the John F. Kennedy administration, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev beat Kennedy in similar challenges and began to doubt Kennedy’s resolve and strategic temperament – leading to the Cuban Missile Crisis. Today, Netanyahu has become the Khrushchev of the Obama administration – and one wonders if a crisis lies ahead in which Obama will have to reassert his primacy lest the world think that Israel runs the United States and the Obama presidency. […]
What Steve doesn’t go into, though he clearly knows, is that politically, with Rahm Emanuel having fits over courting Netanyahu, his chief of staff showed Obama’s hand in the second invitation to the White House. For political reasons, Emanuel believes Obama is desperate to get Mr. Netanyahu’s approval on camera for fear his Jewish support will disappear going forward.
The United States indeed does need “to reassert (our) primacy lest the world think that Israel runs the United States.” There’s just no evidence that anyone in either political party has the
political will common sense and American resolve to do it.
UPDATE: Below is a readout of the press gaggle on Air Force One with Bill Burton on the subject of Israel.
MR. BURTON: Well, I’m not going to get into the specifics of the conversations that we’re having with Israel, but I will say it’s important to the President and to our country that we don’t see the same kind of events unfold like they did the last time. So we are talking to our partners and are hopeful that we won’t see a repeat.
Q Does he feel confident then that they’re on the same page, that there’s a shared sentiment that something like this shouldn’t happen again?
MR. BURTON: He feels confident that we’re having productive conversations with them.
Q And also the flotilla report, the inquiry that’s going on, the fact-finding effort, what’s the status of that? Do you know when that report might come back?
MR. BURTON: I don’t have a timeline on when that report will come out, but like we said yesterday, the President supports a credible investigation into what happened here.
Q On talking to your partners, has the President spoken to the Israeli leadership since he spoke to them on that day — I think Monday?
MR. BURTON: There’s, of course, conversations that happen at different levels in the government. I’m not sure as to whether or not the President himself has spoken to folks in Israel. I can check on that for you.