Monday, November 09, 2009

What Obama could learn from Bush

Why is this woman always laughing so hilariously?
I never thought I'd write the following words, but is it possible that Obama's handling of the I-P peace process might actually end up being worse than George Bush's?  Stephen M. Walt
David Seaton's News Links
In his blog in Foreign Policy magazine, one of the sharpest critics of George W. Bush's policies in the Middle East, Stephen M. Walt, linked to a pair of devastatingly critical attacks on President Obama's treatment of the Israel/Palestine conflict by Tony Karon of Time magazine and by Robert Dreyfuss of The Nation.

Tony Karon summed up the general drift of both articles with this phrase:
The Obama Administration's bid to relaunch an Israeli-Palestinian peace process is falling apart faster than you can say settlement freeze — in no small part because President Barack Obama began his effort by saying settlement freeze.
And as we read in his quote above, Walt then compares Obama's handling of the Middle East unfavorably with Bush's.

And this brings me to the title of my post: "What Obama could learn from Bush".

We could sum up George W. Bush's policy in the Middle East succinctly as, to let the Israelis do anything they wanted, no matter how outrageous and give them all the military aid they ever requested and give them diplomatic cover in the UN or any other international body wherever their behavior might be questioned, at the same time putting them off from carrying out a catastrophic attack on Iran... all the while wrapping this mishgoss up in a mixture of the language of Wilsonian democracy and the Book of Revelations.

What did he achieve by this?

Basically he kept AIPAC off his back and this allowed him to pursue his main goals without being disturbed.

What were those goals, if to the public eye everything he and his administration ever did reeked of failure?

Here we enter the perilous jungle of politic-fiction and have to speculate without access to any inside information.

In my experience the most valuable guides in doing so are, first, Ockham's Razor plus Sherlock Homes's rough and ready dictum of eliminating the impossible and whatever you see left... is what you get.

Using this method, I begin with a risky hypothesis: George W. Bush is not as stupid as he looks. Which I then follow with a simple observation of fact: Richard Cheney neither looks stupid nor is rumored to be stupid.

From there I make a huge leap toward a totally libelous and unprovable (for the moment) supposition: That they were both in it for the money.

Imagine for a moment that both Bush and Cheney received a commission of 0.3 percent in some numbered offshore bank account for every discretionary contract they awarded for the reconstruction of Iraq. That would add up to a pretty penny and suddenly everything we have lived through since 9-11 would make more sense. What to everyone else would appear a total failure would in fact be a huge -- if private -- success.

Now, I don't think for a moment that Obama is on the take, so what can he learn from Bush?

Bush's lesson, if my wacky, just for the sake of argument, hypothesis is correct, is that to succeed you have to keep your eye on the main chance and establish priorities so that all your projects don't start bumping into each other in the dark.

By giving Israel and AIPAC everything they wanted Bush was able to secure their support or indifference on a raft of domestic issues. It always seemed strange to me that despite his total incompetent bumbling he endured relatively little pressure until the economy tanked.

That is the lesson.

Bush learned it from his dad, who always believed that his attempt at a settlement freeze is what cost him his reelection, despite having won a war and with the economy recovering.

It goes like this:

To succeed in freezing the settlements you have to confront AIPAC, to confront AIPAC, you have to be so popular, so powerful that you can frighten the senators and congressmen more than AIPAC does and so popular that you can drown out AIPAC's echochamber, Rupert Murdoch's Fox, which is what empowers the AstroTurf, teabagger-type, movements, that somehow spring up so spontaneously.

So Obama has gotten it all backwards. First he should have, left the Israelis alone while he passed health legislation and reined in Wall Street and reactivated Main Street and got people jobs and then with his popularity soaring, he might have had some chance of winning a fight with AIPAC.

Now, as it is, just to survive politically, just to have any chance of second term, he finally may have to let the Israelis invade Lebanon and Gaza again this spring to prepare the ground for a full scale war with Iran this coming summer. Make no mistake Iran is the big one and Obama's power to control  the situation and avoid a catastrophe is weakening by the moment. DS


Anonymous said...

It is troublesome that we are gradually siding with Palastine and not Isreal.

Dixie Burkhart
Facts Don't Matter

David Seaton's Newslinks said...

Gee Dixie, I hadn't heard that one before; that is really original. Is that from "Facts Don't Matter"? It must be a real knee slapper.