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Thursday, November 08, 2012

Here's a switch: I actually hope Peter Beinart is right about something

For once, I hope Peter Beinart is right/

Beinart doesn't see President Obama pressuring Israel to make more concessions to the 'Palestinians' for the next four years. And while he laments what he sees as Obama's disinterest in the 'Middle East peace process,' I believe that disinterest is the best we can hope for from this President.
Even if Obama is no longer worried about reelection, virtually every Democrat in Congress still is, and it’s Congress where groups like AIPAC have long focused the bulk of their energy and wielded the bulk of their influence. If Obama launches a diplomatic initiative that leads him into conflict with Netanyahu, it will be the Democrats in Congress, especially the ones who run the Democratic Congressional and Senatorial Campaign Committees, and thus spend their time raising money for the 2014 midterms, who will make their displeasure felt. And given how much of Obama’s second term fate depends on Democrats controlling the Senate (and not falling further behind in the House), he won’t easily be able to ignore them. What’s more, if Joseph Biden and/or Hillary Clinton have any desire to make their own runs in 2016, they’ll be nervous about an American-Israeli clash, and the President will not want to undermine their chances.
And while the chances of a politically costly confrontation are high if Obama makes a renewed push for peace, the chances of success are low. Netanyahu, a heavy favorite to win reelection, vocally opposes the only parameters—the 1967 lines plus swaps—that could conceivably lead to a peace deal. Mahmoud Abbas publicly favors them, but in the four years since he negotiated seriously with Ehud Olmert, he’s grown weaker and less legitimate in the eyes of his people. That means his room to make wrenching concessions (especially on refugees), and get Palestinians to accept them over the likely opposition of Hamas, has shrunk.
What’s more, Obama’s Middle East agenda is crowded with other issues. In Bill Clinton’s second term, when the region was more placid, he had the time to invest heavily in Israeli-Palestinian (and Israeli-Syrian) peace. But Obama must grapple with the Iranian nuclear issue, the bloodbath in Syria and all manner of potential crises in unpredictable ex-client states like Egypt. All this will suck up the time that an intensive peace push would require.
Finally, anyone who has spent any time around Democratic foreign policy types in recent years knows that many of them are desperate to “pivot” to Asia.
There's just one problem: I think Beinart's wrong. This President is dogmatic, especially when it comes to Israel.  This is a President who was willing to be a one-term President if it meant passing his health care package, an issue about which he is equally dogmatic. And he no longer needs to stand for reelection.

Congress? He doesn't need Congress for foreign policy. And the if the Dems get slammed in 2014, look for him to double down even more on Israel. Biden? He's going to retire in 2017. Clinton? Even if she's interested, do you think Obama really cares about her?

Please.... Let's not be lulled into any more complacency.

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