Saturday, September 19, 2009

Stephen Walt's dour assessment of the prospects for a two state solution in Israel-Palestine

Stephen M. Walt -- Will Obama Settle for Failure in the Middle East? -

Walt is no doubt correct that the Israeli Prime Minister is playing a familiar string-along game, while the colonization of the West Bank continues relentlessly. For all the hopeful predictions of Netanyahu's "pragmatism" there is no reason to doubt either his deep-seated committed to Zionist Revisionism or his hostility to the premise of an independent Palestine existing side-by-side with Israel.

Walt is also correct to suggest that President Obama is going to have to turn up the heat considerably to attain his stated goal of a two state solution. Will Obama be willing to pay the political price, and is the political price quite as high as Walt suggests? As for the former, we don't know yet. Obama has played his hand very coolly. As for the latter question, might it be that, notwithstanding the formidable AIPAC, the political price has come down a bit. Pro-peace supporters of Israel have supported Obama's firm stance on the settlements. There is evidence to suggest that Israel's image in the eyes of its liberal U.S. supporters has suffered over the past few years. People who freely support to Israel in the past, are now raising questions about Israel's commitment to peace and human rights. (This article in Forward is illustrative of a shift.)

Despite the predictable knee-jerk condemnations of the Goldstone commission's important report, Israel's credibility as a state ready to respect Palestinian rights is in question. Notwithstanding sharp official U.S. comments on the document, the hard-hitting report further diminishes Israel's claims to a morally superior vantage point (remember Barak: "the IDF is most moral army in the world.") The Gaza war report also underlines Israel's dependence on U.S. diplomatic protection, which Netanyahu might be well briefed to remember.

In terms of the dynamics of U.S.-Israeli relations, no Israeli government can afford to jeopardize its relationship with the United States. Although Obama may be unpopular in Israel, there is little doubt that his pressure on Israel has caused many Israelis to worry about the consequences of defying the U.S. president.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There’s an exclusive game in town that’s been around now for about 40 years – it’s known as the ‘NUCLEAR AMBIGUITY’ position.

The object is, or was, to secretly amass as many nuclear warheads as possible without anyone knowing, whilst vociferously objecting at every available opportunity to anyone else having a nuclear weapon. In other words, refusing to accept non-proliferation for itself – but insisting on it for others.

It’s a very special game in that it has only one player – but it has family members in the Halls of Power in America and Europe and so is able to continue to play this extraordinarily simple but dangerous stratagem, ad infinitum.

That is until this week, when a Nuclear Conference, which apparently was ignorant of the rules – or someone forgot to tell it – decided to make public the fact that a Middle Eastern state had an estimated 300-500 nuclear warheads in an underground site in the Negev desert, which had never been declared to or inspected by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Enough nuclear power to sink the whole of the Middle East and most of Europe.

The result being that the ‘NUCLEAR AMBIGUITY’ game must be now effectively considered dead, finished, caput! Because a state that is hiding an undeclared nuclear arsenal of that size is too dangerous to be allowed to get away with it.

The world will have to act now to dismantle this nuclear arsenal that has illegitimately made Israel possibly the 3rd most powerful nuclear state in the world, after Russia and America.

And the burning question is: why did the United States, throughout every presidency since John Kennedy, collude in this game of ‘NUCLEAR AMBIGUITY’ that had so disadvantaged the whole of Europe? Why did the US veto every resolution pertaining to this issue?

Why should a political and trading block of over 500 million people be beholden to a tiny Mediterranean state with a demographic just over 1% of that of the EU?

Why should a political lobby that effectively decides US foreign policy also dictate to Europe?

Since last week, these questions demand urgent answers.