Syrian president Bashar Assad has declared that the Obama administration's failure to facilitate change in the Middle East shows that it is weak. Assad made this statment during a visit to Latin America, which has become a region of interest to both Assad and Iranian president Ahmadinejad.
Is it possible for an American president to accidentally carry out an isolationist foreign policy? That odd question crossed my mind last week as I talked with various foreign-policy experts about the Middle East, Russia, and Afghanistan. Judging by his words and his travels, there can be no doubt that President Obama intends to be anything but an isolationist president. He proudly called himself a citizen of the world while in Berlin during the campaign. He has gone out of his way to travel the world, speak to the world, and reach out for the favorable judgment of all the peoples of the world.
Lost in the latest Middle Eastern controversy is the fact that the prospects for Israeli-Arab peace are steadily improving, and that the apparently impending defection of Turkey from the Western camp is a great opportunity. The predictable consequence of Europe s treating Turkey like a shabby, swarthy mendicant knocking at its back door for 30 years embracing it when an ally in the region was needed, but rebuffing it at other times is the defeat of the Kemalist Western emulators by the Muslim Turkish nativists.
Note that Ms. Thomas did not call for just a West Bank free of Jews. And she did not just wish for the elimination of the nation of Israel itself. Rather, Thomas envisions the departure of Israelis to the sites of the major death camps seven decades ago where six million Jews were gassed.
The Obama administration's attacks on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shouldn't obscure the fact that Netanyahu's government has taken three significant steps in an effort to improve relations with the Palestinians. First, Netanyahu publicly endorsed Palestinian statehood. Second, Israel agreed to a10-month freeze on new Jewish construction in the West Bank. Third, Israel took a series of measures to improve the economy of the West Bank. These included removing roadblocks and checkpoints, extending the opening hours and improving efficiency at the Jordan crossing points, and easing the transfer of goods to the Palestinian areas via Israel. In addition, the government has encouraged Israeli companies and international firms to do business in the territories. According to Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, these measures have helped produce a growth rate in the West Bank of more than 10 percent over the past 12 months. Unfortunately, Israel has received no positive gestures from the Palestinians in return. To the contrary, as Steinitz points out, even as Israel encourages countries to do business in the West Bark, the Palestinians are urging the same countries to boycott the Israeli economy. And, of course, the Palestinians have refused to resume "peace" talks. Accordingly, Steinitz proposes that Israel cancel the 10-month freeze on new Jewish construction in the West Bank if the Palestinian Authority does not agree to resume peace negotiations within a month or two. The idea is a sensible one. It would put the ball in the Palestinian court, where it belongs after Israel has made the series of concessions/gestures described above. And it would force Obama, if he is actually interested in peace talks as opposed to hammering Israel, to devote some serious attention to the Palestinian side of the equation. Finally, it would demonstrate to the Palestinians that their strategy of responding to I