Of the commentary I have been able to read on Obama’s speech on the Middle East yesterday, I think Caroline Glick’s is the shrewdest. From a close reading of the text of Obama’s speech, Glick deduces Obama’s prospective support of the emerging jihadist political forces in Egypt and Tunisia, and elsewhere as well.
When it comes to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs, Obama glides over the Palestinian Arabs’ comprehensive and unceasing diplomatic, rhetorical, educational, and military rejection of the existence of Israel as a Jewish state. Glick helpfully summarizes the express statements and the the implications of Obama’s text:
He said Israel has to concede its right to defensible borders as a precondition for negotiations;
He didn’t say he opposes the Palestinian demand for open immigration of millions of foreign Arabs into Israel;
He again ignored Bush’s 2004 letter to Sharon opposing a return to the 1949 armistice lines, supporting the large settlements, defensible borders and opposing mass Arab immigration into Israel;
He said he was leaving Jerusalem out but actually brought it in by calling for an Israeli retreat to the 1949 lines;
He called for Israel to be cut in two when he called for the Palestinians state to be contiguous;
He called for Israel to withdraw from the Jordan Valley – without which it is powerless against invasion – by saying that the Palestinian State will have an international border with Jordan.
Israel is a case in point of a larger problem with Obama’s approach to the region. The larger problem is Obama’s failure to distinguish properly between friends and enemies. Obama vows equal treatment, which is, shall we say problematic. But in practice the failure to accord this elementary distinction its due renders friendship with the United States status.
Obama’s speech resides somewhere in the realm of fantasy that is more fitting for undergraduate students than a president of the United States. Here I ask readers to contrast Obama’s remarks on Israel and the Palestinian Arabs with Jackson Diehl’s excellent Washington Post column on Mahmoud Abbas’s formula for war. The contrast is not in Obama’s favor.
Saudi Arabia, incidentally, somehow went missing in President Obama’s survey of the region. How lucky can you get?
UPDATE: Commenting on one of John’s posts in 2008, Jeff Dobbs noticed the pattern.