The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Diplomatic Idiocy

Over the past week, the State Department and Obama administration have been whining that the Israeli media unfairly criticized our bumbling Secretary of State, John Kerry, for his ham-handed diplomatic efforts in Israel as of late. Over the past few days,the main stream media has reported on the whining, but has not taken a hard look at the debacle that Barack Obama's team of diplomatic 2s has created.

Luckily, Mideast expert, Adam Garfinkle provides some insight. After describing Kerry's cease fire proposal efforts as "the [italics his] most noteworthy piece of U.S. diplomatic idiocy in the Middle East that I’ve witnessed in several years (which is really saying something)," he goes on to discuss the ramifications.

He begins by assessing whether recent moves by the administration have been due to malice or incompetence. He comes down on the side of incompetence. In explanation, he writes:
... I agree that it’s not malice, but it is incompetence of a kind and on a scale that tars John Kerry as the dumbest Secretary of State in my lifetime.

Let me elaborate just a bit, and try to provide some perspective here. As [David] Ignatius [of the WaPo] notes, Kerry went first to Cairo in his quest for a quick ceasefire, but found that the Egyptians could not budge Hamas. Why this surprised him I can’t imagine: Doesn’t he know that this is not Mubarak’s Egypt anymore, where a long-standing double-gaming gambit once provided some indirect U.S. entry into Hamasistan? This is post-Morsi, al-Sisi Egypt, and the Egyptian double game is over. That’s good in that it makes Egypt and Israel effective allies at weakening Hamas, but the drawback is that Cairo can no longer serve as an effective transmission belt for the insertion of U.S. sticks and carrots. So chalk up that flight as a waste of aviation fuel.

Then it got worse. By ministering to Qatar, where the head of the Hamas political wing lives at the invitation of the Al-Thani, Kerry strengthened that troublemaking little pissant of a country. If you thought U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia—which in this dustup is a tacit ally of Egypt and Israel—could not get worse than they already are, you goofed: They just did. (But if you want to hear anti-Qatari venom that can singe the hair on your chin, better to go to Abu Dhabi or Dubai.)

Then worse still: Kerry ministered to arguably the world’s foremost anti-Semite, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. (Richard Cohen’s piece today, “Erdogan’s anti-Semitic fetish”, also leaves me bereft of criticism in the face of another Washington Post columnist who also regularly irritates me.) There are rumors that another Gazan flotilla will be launched, this time with the Turkish Navy as guardian. I hope this isn’t true, because no good can come of it.

And then worst of all: Kerry presents Israel with a draft of a ceasefire agreement that puts Hamas on the same level as Israel, and demeans Fatah and the PA, with which Israel is bound up in a legal if highly imperfect relationship; that would give Hamas the politically life-sustaining prize it seeks in the form of an “open borders” concession it can characterize as helping the people of Gaza; and that would prevent Israel from finishing the work of destroying the deadly tunnel network under the border.

A ceasefire under those terms would enable Hamas to resupply its war machine, bringing in unlimited numbers of missiles and mortars—and concrete, too, to rebuild and expand the tunnel network. It would enable Hamas to begin the next phase of conflict, in which it targets Israeli civilians while using Gazan civilians as human shields, at a time of its choosing. It would mean that all the IDF killed in this conflict would have died in vain.
The word "incompetence" is used frequently when the Obama administration is discussed. In some cases, it's serious, but at the same time rather amusing. In the case of Israel v. Hamas, it's disastrous and not at all amusing.

Obama and his team of 2s are doing great damage to our country at the international level. Damage that may be irreparable going forward.

At first, even I thought that John Kerry's incompetence had more to do with the events described in today's post than Barack Obama's growing anti-Israel position. Caroline Glick set me straight:
... in their discussion Sunday night, [Israeli Prime Minister] Netanyahu and his ministers were without illusions about the gravity of the situation and the imperative of winning – however defined.

But then the telephone rang. And Obama told Netanyahu that Israel must lose. He wants an unconditional “humanitarian” cease-fire that will lead to a permanent one.

And he wants it now.

And by the way, the eventual terms of that cease-fire must include opening Hamas-controlled Gaza’s borders with Egypt and Israel and ending Israel’s maritime blockade of the Gaza coast. That is, the cease-fire must allow Hamas to rebuild its arsenal of death and destruction quickly, with US political and financial support.

Until Obama made the call, there was lingering doubt among some Israelis regarding his intentions. Some thought that US Secretary of State John Kerry might have been acting of his own accord last Friday night when he tried to force Israel to accept Hamas’s cease-fire terms.

But then Obama made his phone call. And all doubts were dispelled.

Kerry is just a loyal steward of Obama’s foreign policy.

Obama is siding with Hamas, and its Muslim Brotherhood patrons in Qatar and Turkey, against Israel, and its Sunni Arab supporters – Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates.

It is Obama who demands that Hamas have open borders so it can resupply, and receive billions of dollars – starting with an immediate cash injection of $47 million from US taxpayers – so it can pay North Korea for more missiles and import building materials to reconstruct its tunnels.

And Richard Fernandez caps it all off with this:
The New York Times notes that Arab leaders are unusually silent about Israel’s campaign in Gaza because their loathing of Hamas is so great they are secretly rooting for Netanyahu. Deep in their hearts they are cynically hoping Israel will take out the trash to leave the field clear for themselves.

“The Arab states’ loathing and fear of political Islam is so strong that it outweighs their allergy to Benjamin Netanyahu,” the prime minister of Israel, said Aaron David Miller, a scholar at the Wilson Center in Washington and a former Middle East negotiator under several presidents. “I have never seen a situation like it, where you have so many Arab states acquiescing in the death and destruction in Gaza and the pummeling of Hamas. The silence is deafening.”

It’s the Westerners yelling in Paris who are the dopes; the regional leaders know that Hamas cares as much for ‘Palestinians’ as Mao cared about flowers. The world lives on two levels; the plane of the popular narrative and the zone of power politics. The way the Islamist game is really played was illustrated by a video posted by ISIS showing the mass murder of their prisoners. The Jihad is not about ‘breaking the cycle of violence’ or ‘advancing universal brotherhood’. It’s about ‘you lose you die’.

What is really striking about the expressions of the doomed in the ISIS video is the attitude of acceptance, resignation and absolute bewilderment as they cower in dump trucks on the way to the execution site. These emotions must have been similar to the millions of victims of the 1940s who died unable to believe the nightmare was actually happening until the bullet smashed their skull.
Hamas is no different than ISIS, only slightly less well-armed and slightly better-contained. I guess as his presidency implodes, Barack Obama feels there's no longer a need for phony pretense. He is now on the record as the first American president to abandon an ally in favor of an Islamist terror group.