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Monday, October 04, 2010

Lieberman: Obama trying to force agreement on Israel

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told his Yisrael Beiteinu party on Sunday that President Obama wants to force an agreement on Israel, and it is that desire that lies behind the attempt to extend the 'settlement freeze' for an additional 60 days (Hat Tip: Israellycool).
"During my recent visit to the US I learned that Washington is planning to force a permanent agreement on Israel – two states for two peoples along the 1967 borders, plus-minus 3 or 4% of the territory exchanged," Lieberman said. "This is the objective of a continued freeze – to give the US and the international community two months to come up with a solution that will be forced on Israel."

According to the FM, in two months' time "The US, along with the Quartet, the Arab League and the Palestinians will tell Israel, 'This is the solution, take it or leave it. If you don't, there is a price – a confrontation with the international community'. Therefore, we must not quit the coalition. It's the only way to solidify a majority against the freeze, which is a decoy."
The problem with this is that it sounds plausible. Too plausible. In fact, Lieberman seems to have hit the nail on the head.

Once the US elections are over, either Obama will (God forbid) have support for his program for the next two years, or he will be faced with a hostile Congress. In that case, he can either confront Congress or effectively declare himself a lame duck. Either way, it will be much easier for Obama to turn toward foreign policy, where he does not need Congressional approval to act.

Obama is often compared to Jimmy Carter, another one-term President. Three weeks ago, Leslie Stahl interviewed Carter on CBS's 60 Minutes. Please consider this from a write-up of the interview:
Congress thought he was "sanctimonious" and he writes that he made things worse by proposing too many unpopular bills, like the treaty to give back the Panama Canal and lifting price controls on gasoline.

Even Mrs. Carter told him he was doing too much.

"And he would always say to me, 'Suppose I don't have a second term.' And he was right. Because he got an awful lot done for the country. He's not a failed president," Rosalynn Carter told Stahl.

That image of "a failed president" haunts the Carters.

"How do you think you got into this big mess?" Stahl, then CBS' White House correspondent, asked President Carter during a press conference.

"The public will have to judge how big a mess it is," the president replied.


Then, talk about everything that can go bad going bad: Iran captured 52 Americans and held them hostage for the entire last quarter of Carter's presidency. There was an attempt to rescue the hostages, but it had to be aborted and people began calling on Carter to bomb Tehran. He refused.

"We went through four years. We never fired a bullet. We never dropped a bomb. We never launched a missile," Carter pointed out.

Asked if that was because of his religious views, Carter said, "That's part of it. Because I felt that our country should be, as a super power, the champion of peace."

"And some people will criticize…have criticized that attitude as saying that in Jimmy Carter's time, we didn't look as strong. We didn't look like a super power," Stahl pointed out.

"There's no doubt that usually a president's public image is enhanced by going to war. That never did appeal to me," he replied.

Carter argues that despite the image of failure, he actually had a long list of successes, starting with bringing all the hostages alive.

He normalized relations with China; brokered a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, deregulated railroads, trucking, airlines and telephones; and his energy conservation programs resulted in a 50 percent cut in imported oil, down to just 4.3 million barrels a day.


But when all is said and done, and many will be surprised to hear this: Jimmy Carter got more of his programs passed than Reagan, Nixon, Ford, George H. W. Bush, Clinton or George W. Bush.

"I had the best batting average in Congress in recent history of any president, except Lyndon Johnson," Carter said.

"And yet, as I say, there's the sense that you were a failed president," Stahl said.

"I think I was identified as a failed president because I wasn't re-elected," he replied.

The lesson: getting a lot of legislation passed, even when it's significant, is not enough.


It's been a good life, and if the Carters were in despair 30 years ago, they are now very clearly at peace, with their lives and their legacy.

"With everything that President Obama's going through, almost the worst insult that people say is that 'My God, he could be worse than Jimmy Carter,'" Stahl said.

"I can't control what people say about comparing me with Obama. But I hope that Obama will have as successful a term as I had in dealing with our nation's domestic and international affairs. And if he does, I'll be very proud of him, as I happen to be proud of myself, having had a successful administration when I was in office," Carter replied.
Now, look at Barack Obama's first year and a half in office. We may not (I don't) like it, but he has passed his health care bill, TARP, taken over two of the three automakers, and almost passed cap and trade. All that's missing that would make him comparable to Carter... is a Middle East peace treaty. Obama's batting average thus far in Congress is probably as good as Carter's. He's gotten through any bill that really mattered to him. The Democrats aren't getting pounded at the polls for what Obama dealt with so much as for what he ignored: unemployment. And even if both Houses of Congress fall into Republican hands, it's doubtful that any of the legislation Obama forced down Congress' collective throat over the last 20 months will be repealed so long as he is in office. He still has the veto power.

Carter is very at peace with himself thirty years later. Contrary to what Leslie Stahl claims, he is not 'haunted' by a failed Presidency (watch the interview and that comes through quite clearly). He clearly does not regard his Presidency as a failure even though many others do because he was not re-elected. Obama could conceivably be in a similar position... if only he can wrap up a deal between Israel and the 'Palestinians' over the next two years (preferably over the next year so that it could even help him be re-elected).

The Camp David Accords were signed on September 17, 1978, during the second year of Carter's Presidency, after twelve days of negotiations that opened on September 5, 1978. Obama opened the direct talks on September 2, 2010, during the second year of his Presidency. Eerie, isn't it?

The Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty was signed in March 1979 - less than a year after negotiations opened.

What could go wrong?


At 12:20 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

There is a great article about United State's policy toward Israel. Click on the link below and get some hard facts for yourself!!


At 12:46 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

I agree with Lieberman.

The US certainly won't pressure the PA to compromise with Israel, so it will seek to force a Palestinian state on Israel without the Palestinians having to make peace with Israel.

Just what Abu Bluff is counting on Obama to do for him. How is Israel going to respond to such a US move? One can only pray the Israeli government has an answer.

What could go wrong indeed

At 2:42 PM, Blogger Hatfield said...

Obama might run into Congress which would definitely be against this.


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