Obama's second term: Maybe not such a disaster for Israel?A lengthy piece by Ryan Lizza in the New Yorker describes what an Obama second term - God forbid - might look like. Here's what it has to say about Israel (Hat Tip: Memeorandum).
The final two years of a second term need not be a loss for a President. All but exiled from domestic affairs, Presidents inevitably focus more attention on foreign policy, where many leave a lasting mark. Rhodes said that he is just beginning to research in a more formal way how foreign policy was conducted in the second terms of recent Presidents, but he knows how important it could be to Obama’s legacy. “I’m aware of the fact that Presidents in the last couple of years just kind of go into that,” he said. Next year, Obama will have more flexibility to make foreign visits. “We didn’t travel much this year, and just after an election year we’ll have a lot more time to travel,” Rhodes said.Sorry guys, but I don't buy this. Obama believes there's a 'fierce moral urgency' to a 'Palestinian state' and he is already rumored to have told the 'Palestinian leadership' that he will have more flexibility to pressure Netanyahu in a second term. Whether he does it himself or through surrogates is irrelevant.
The Obama project of the first four years was to end the two wars it had inherited and move the U.S. away from defining itself globally in terms of a multigenerational struggle against terrorism. (The ten-year defense budget that Obama announced earlier this year shifts the Pentagon away from planning for the types of multiyear nation-building exercises that America undertook in Iraq and Afghanistan.) Instead of conducting massive land wars, Obama’s terrorism policy became defined by targeted assassination of Al Qaeda leaders by teams of Navy SEALS and Predator drones. In coöperating closely with Israel to develop Stuxnet, a computer virus aimed at Iran’s nuclear program, the U.S. engaged in the first known act of pure cyberwarfare against another country. Obama has revealed himself to be more hawkish than either his supporters or his opponents expected.
Obama’s other second-term foreign-policy priorities include a renewed push for peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. But the President would not get personally involved, as his two predecessors did, unless he was certain that Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, wanted a deal. (The White House assumes that Netanyahu is hoping for a Romney victory.) In an Obama second term, containing Iran might take precedence over a Middle East peace agreement, even as the Administration continued to try to manage the post-revolution transitions across the region and North Africa. Obama doesn’t believe that there is much he can do to change the status quo in North Korea. Meanwhile, the situation in Syria threatens to become a focal point in the November election. Romney has begun to attack Obama’s wait-and-see policy and has called for arming the Syrian opposition. Soon, Obama may have to decide if he wants to push harder to topple President Bashar al-Assad, possibly by force.
And another thought: If Israel's elections really don't take place until November 2013, Obama can send all kinds of 'political consultants' here to help Netanyahu's opponents on the Left. Think of Bill Clinton sending Stanley Greenberg to help Ehud Barak defeat... Binyamin Netanyahu. And then Obama might have a more compliant Israeli Prime Minister with whom to work.
And that's without even taking into account what a disaster a second Obama term would be for the American economy, which would also affect Israel.
Bottom line: Obama is too much of an idealist to behave in the rational manner described by Lizza. What could go wrong?