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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Out Cartering Carter?

From Bret Stephens in the Wall Street Journal:
Rarely in U.S. history has a foreign policy course been as thoroughly repudiated by events as his approach to Iran in his first months in office. Even Jimmy Carter drew roughly appropriate conclusions about the Iranian regime after the hostages were taken in 1979.

Maybe this president will now draw roughly appropriate conclusions, too. Or maybe he'll just turn his gaze from his nonstarting overture to Tehran to the Holy Land, whose pastures look ever-so slightly greener thanks to Mr. Netanyahu's attempt at reasonableness and conciliation. Israelis shouldn't count on Mr. Obama responding in kind.
Read the whole thing.

I hadn't thought about the juxtaposition of Camp David and the fall of the Shah until I read those two paragraphs. While I knew that both events took place in the 1978-79 timeframe, I was studying in yeshiva in Israel from 1978-80, and was far more removed world events than might have otherwise been the case.

But here's something to think about. The Camp David accords were signed on September 17, 1978, and the Egyptian - Israeli peace treaty was signed on March 26, 1979. The Shah of Iran's regime fell in February 1979. The American embassy in Iran was invaded - and 400 Americans were taken hostage - in November 1979.

I have mentioned here before that President Carter wanted to create a 'Palestinian state' as part of the Camp David accords, but both Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat rejected the idea. Obviously, pressuring Menachem Begin to make peace with Egypt at any price and to create a 'Palestinian state' was a high priority for Jimmy Carter. If Carter had devoted as much attention to Iran as he did to Israel between January 1978 (when the Islamic revolution in Iran started) and February 1979, could the Shah's regime have been saved? Did Carter have any interest in saving it? (Seemingly yes).

I titled this post Out Cartering Carter. The reason I gave it that title is that Carter at least had willing interlocutors in Israel and Egypt. Anwar Sadat had visited Israel in 1977 and had said all the right things. Menachem Begin was willing to make peace with Sadat because he believed that Sadat wanted peace. Much as Carter may have devoted a disproportionate amount of time to our conflict, he might at least be excused because there was a rational basis for saying he had some chance of succeeding.

Can the same be said of Obama?

Can we name him 'America's worst President' yet?


At 1:38 PM, Blogger Alpha3958 said...

on the contrary,

At 6:52 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Egypt and Israel made peace over US objections. Its hard to note a single event in the Middle East the US had a hand in. The parties came to an agreement without US involvement. It was afterwards the US came in as a guarantor for the agreement but did not push Israel and the Arabs to do anything they didn't want to do.

At 10:39 PM, Blogger Findalis said...

Not quite the worst yet, but he is getting there.


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