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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Joe Klein: Take a failed policy and apply it elsewhere

By the admission of just about everyone, President Obumbler's policy of 'engaging' with rogue regimes has been a massive failure. Iran is still developing nuclear weapons. Obama is sending an ambassador to Syria but Syria continues to house terror groups, harass Israel and dominate Lebanon.

But none of that bothers Time Magazine's Joe Klein. He wants to move full steam ahead to the next American enemy. He wants Obama to 'engage' with Hamas.
It might have been more profitable for Obama to have concentrated on trying to fix Gaza first. It was the immediate crisis when he took office, and it remains so. It is difficult to solve, but not impossible. Success would set a predicate: the Administration could be relied upon to work hard, and pragmatically, on vexing issues along the way to an ultimate deal. It could be trusted by all sides. That possibility still exists, although senior Administration officials seem unduly pessimistic about the chances of success. And there is a big obstacle here: the best way to resolve Gaza is for the U.S. to quietly convince Hamas that if it gives up Shalit — a huge issue for the Israelis — the U.S. would work to persuade Israel to lift the siege. The trouble is, the U.S. won't talk to Hamas. But if Obama's policy really is about engaging our enemies, he needs to engage Hamas — and Hamas needs to respond. Quickly.
But earlier in the same article, Klein calls Israel's insistence on Shalit's release - one of three conditions Israel has set for lifting its partial blockade of Gaza - 'insanity.' Safely ensconced in the US (most of the time), Klein cannot appreciate that the real insanity would be for Israel to give up 1,000 top of the line terrorists for Shalit.

Jonathan Tobin adds that Klein is encouraging Obama to mis-order priorities.
Yet rather than concentrating our energies on preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons — a development that would undermine the security of most of the Arab world as well as present an existential threat to Israel — Klein wants the United States to concentrate its energies on finding a way to lift the partial international blockade on the terrorist state in Gaza. The blockade of Hamasistan allows food and medical supplies to enter the area but seeks to prevent the import of building materials (which can be used to bolster Hamas’s thriving small-arms industry) or weapons from abroad. The three conditions that Israel has placed on lifting the blockade are an end to the terrorist missile fire from Gaza into southern Israel, a stop to arms smuggling, and the release of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Klein is right that the missile fire has come to what may be a temporary halt. He also believes that the smuggling issue can be resolved, although, as shown by the death of a Hamas leader in Dubai at a time when he was seeking to facilitate the transport of weapons from Iran to Gaza, this is not a minor point. As for Shalit’s ordeal, Klein dismisses it as “an insane sticking point.”

So what’s his solution? The United States must “engage” the Hamas terrorists. That’s something that both Obama and Clinton have rightly pledged not to do — but, according to the columnist, “if Obama’s policy really is about engaging our enemies, he needs to engage Hamas — and Hamas needs to respond. Quickly.” According to Klein, the problem for Hamas is that the alternative to dealing with Obama is a return to the policies of the dread Dick Cheney and the neoconservatives. He concludes: “The leaders of Hamas — and other potential interlocutors, like the Syrians — need to understand that this may be their last best chance for progress. After Obama, the deluge.”

While a more sensible foreign policy may well have to await the election of a new president, what Klein fails to understand is that no matter who sits in the White House, it is not in America’s interest to rescue the killers of Hamas. Rather, it should be our policy to isolate and hopefully oust them from power. But if any argument is designed to undermine the appeal of the president’s discredited engagement policy, it is Klein’s belief that Barack Obama is the last best hope of one of the world’s most vicious terrorist groups.

Shmuel Rosner has more here.


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