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Monday, March 22, 2010

Yes, it could get worse

Things could get worse - much worse - if we follow the policy prescriptions of former US ambassador to Israel Dan Kurtzer. Kurtzer, as you may recall, was an adviser to the Obama campaign and just last week ripped the Obama administration for the lack of boldness in its approach to the 'peace process.' Kurtzer would apparently be much more aggressive toward Israel. Kurtzer's interlocutor here was Bill Kristol.
The biggest divergence came in the discussion of “smart power.” Kurtzer said we haven’t done enough. Here, to the audible gasps of some conservatives in the room, he proclaimed that we can’t aspire to promote American values when we have 30 million people without health insurance. (The woman next to me declared in a stage whisper, “And he teaches this at a university.”) And, citing the controversial CENTCOM report, he said that the U.S. military was implicitly arguing that the U.S. has been insufficiently dedicated to resolving the Israel-Palestinian conflict. (More crowd murmuring.) He then bemoaned the Iraq war, which had cost so much and in which we had lost so many lives. Kristol joked that he wanted to defend “dumb power” — that is, the indispensible role of American military power. The issue, Kristol said, is what types of policies work — citing the failure of Iran engagement and the Obami’s Middle East approach.

The Q & A was revealing on two counts. Several questioners went after the Obami for beating up on friends and trying to ingratiate themselves with adversaries. Kristol admitted to a certain sympathy with the questioners. On Israel, Kurtzer proclaimed that the relationship was fine and we had only one difference with Israel — West Bank settlements. (Huh? This was about Jerusalem, of course.) In response to a question on Iran, Kurtzer said the real problem was that we had not engaged Iran enough. One meeting three months ago just isn’t enough, he opined. Kristol declared himself “dubious on sanctions and diplomacy,” and argued that if there is to be military action, it must be by the U.S., both for technical and geopolitical reasons. And that brought the loudest round of applause.
Kurtzer's is the type of thinking that pervades the Obama White House. What could go wrong?


At 5:26 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Barry Rubin has observed its an error of reductionism: that all the problems in the Middle East are Israel's responsibility to solve. Its also a false one. What do building apartments for Jews in Jerusalem have to do with Al Qaeda or the Taliban or Iran's nuclear program? And that's where Dan Kurtzer and the Obami see a connection where none exists.

What could go wrong indeed

At 1:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When this guy was actually Ambassador in Israel he gave an amazingly puerile new-lefty fight-the-power speech to a group of Israeli university students cheering them on to fight the good fight and tell truth to the current Sharon coalition. It was such jejune crap, as if he confused the Israeli government with the Columbia University administration and he was flash-backing on an overdose of 60's era nostalgia. What sentient being with an IQ above that of a turtle (or a rock shaped like a turtle) could possibly take seriously the need to engage Iran more?


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