Barack Obama’s Zbig problem

Barack ObamaRecent events make it clear that a Barack Obama presidency is not a long shot. It is a real possibility. A combination of Republican weakness, Obama’s personal attractiveness, and the fact that many Americans see him as the candidate of change — and nobody doubts that we need that — puts him in a very strong position today.

So it’s very important for those of us who are concerned about US policy in the Mideast, particularly toward Israel and the Palestinians, to understand where he is coming from on this issue, and perhaps to educate him about the history and current facts about it — because he may be the “decider” next year.

Like any good politician, he hasn’t said too much about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, except that he favors a two-state solution. He did make a slightly more specific comment which I discussed last week, in which he seems to hold a position much like the Ayalon-Nusseibeh plan: there will be a division ‘based on’ the 1967 borders with land swaps to allow Israel to keep highly populated settlement areas and the Palestinians to get Arab areas within the Green Line in return, and the right of return for Arab refugees will be limited to the Palestinian state.

We can quibble about the details of such an agreement, but the overriding problem today is that a) there isn’t a unitary Palestinian entity that can negotiate such a settlement for all Palestinians, and b) no imaginable Palestinian leadership would (or could) accept it. A solution that is — given the players — unobtainable is not a solution.

So while this might be imaginable as an acceptable outcome (I will not get into that now), simply presenting it as a policy is absurd unless a way of achieving it is specified. Saying “we’ll negotiate with everybody” is a cop-out and possibly dangerous.

Zbigniew BrzezinskiAnd then there’s the Zbig problem.

Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security advisor to Jimmy Carter, was chosen by Obama as a top advisor on foreign policy. I am not going to try to guess what is in Brzezinski’s head or Obama’s, but here are some of Brzezinski’s public statements:

Given that the Middle East is currently the central challenge facing America, Professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt have rendered a public service by initiating a much needed public debate on the role of the “Israel lobby” in the shaping of U.S. foreign policy. — Zbigniew Brzezinski, A Dangerous Exemption

I hate to say this but I will say it. I think what the Israelis are doing today for example in Lebanon is in effect, in effect–maybe not in intent–the killing of hostages. The killing of hostages. Because when you kill 300 people, 400 people, who have nothing to do with the provocations Hezbollah staged, but you do it in effect deliberately by being indifferent to the scale of collateral damage, you’re killing hostages in the hope of intimidating those that you want to intimidate. — Speech, July 20, 2006

Israel desired or favored the destruction of Iraq by the United States. Now it doesn’t hide its preference for the United States doing something to Iran, even though Israel itself has a powerful nuclear retaliatory capability. — Speech, June 12, 2007

We pressed the Palestinians to have elections in which the Hamas would participate. Hamas did win those elections. We were the ones who made that possible. So I think at some point we have to be prepared to conduct some sort of a dialogue with Hamas, perhaps informal, then increasingly formal.

Prime Minister Begin, whom I knew well, he told me personally that he didn’t think there was such a thing as a Palestinian, that there was no Palestinian nation, and that he was adamantly against two states coexisting in the space of the former mandate of Palestine, namely Israel and Palestine.

Yet we continued dealing with that government. We negotiated with it. We gave it a lot of economic assistance. And in the course of years, the Likud government itself came to accept the idea of two states within the territory of the former mandate of Palestine, coexisting with each other. — Interview, Online Newshour, July 18, 2006

The current crisis poses a grave threat to United States interests. One can argue forever as to whether Yasir Arafat or Ariel Sharon is more responsible for its eruption. — NY Times Op-ed, April 7, 2002

There’s a great deal of similar material available. Brzezinski supports the pernicious, even anti-Semitic Mearsheimer and Walt, he accuses Israel of ignoring collateral damage and in effect committing war crimes in Lebanon, he perpetuates the false and dangerous accusation that Israel is in some sense responsible for the US being in Iraq, and — time and again — he declares a moral equivalence between Israel and her terrorist opponents — Hamas and Arafat.

Brzezinski is very smart, and usually includes statements that suggest an understanding of Israel’s need for security. However, there’s no question that the policies that he will advocate will be to Israel’s severe disadvantage.

We don’t need another James A. Baker in a critical position in a future Obama administration. Obama has received criticism from pro-Israel voices like Alan Dershowitz about Brzezinski. The Obama campaign has responded that the criticism is politically motivated and coming from supporters of Hillary Clinton.

Regardless, Brzezinski’s slant is clear from his own words.

Technorati Tags: , ,

5 Responses to “Barack Obama’s Zbig problem”

  1. Shalom Freedman says:

    Once again Vic Rosenthal has seen into the heart of an issue, and let us know about before anyone else has publicly written about it.
    The Brzesinski factor is key. If he is the main man for Obama this is very troublesome news for Israel.
    Something deep in him does not like Israel. And his making a noise here and there about Israel’s security is just ‘cover’. He is the intellectual father of Walt- Mearsheimer. And he is a Carter Democrat.
    I agree that it is important to try to give Obama a stronger sense of what the true situation is in regard to Israel and its intransigent enemies.

  2. Doug Terpstra says:

    Thank you for your article. It confirms to me that if anyone can help blunt AIPAC’s hegemony in Congress and persuade Israel to change its self-destructive path, Obama may be the only viable candidate.

    If Dershowitz is critical of Obama, then he’s my man.

  3. Vic Rosenthal says:

    If AIPAC has a ‘hegemony’, why is the US forcing Israel to make concrete concessions to the terrorists of Fatah in return for worthless promises? Why did the US sell JDAMs to Saudi Arabia? Some hegemony.

  4. Doug Terpstra says:


    Thanks. I am not aware of any “forced” concessions. Please enumerate.

    Are you referring to UNSC Resolutions 242 and 338, violated by Israel for more than 40 years now? Has the US asked Israel lately—even timidly—to even decelerate construction of illegal settlements? Has it asked it to remove the apartheid wall from Palestinian land? Has it asked Israel to permit humanitarian aid to flow into Gaza, not for the terrorists but for the women and little children.

    Those are not even real “concessions,” but they would be concrete steps toward justice and regional peace, and from the latest polls I’ve seen, supported by most Israelis. Why is Likud so insistent on colonizing the remainder of ancient Canaan? There’s no real mystery here.

    How is selling JDAM’s to the Saudis a threat to Israel, not to Iran, Israel’s latest-greatest nemesis? Has Saudi Arabia threatened Israel recently, or does Israel have a legitimate fear of them? Is there a tiny prickle of conscience, perhaps?

    Refer to the Torah and read Jeremiah again for the first time. I think the vaunted lobby (AIPAC, JDL, ZOA and CUFI*) is in danger of becoming a victim of its own success. It is not serving Israel well, nor America.

    Is worldwide hatred of both countries truly springing from hell or is there a more secular source.

    Please think about it. Really.



  5. Vic Rosenthal says:

    Thanks. I am not aware of any “forced” concessions. Please enumerate.

    Removal of checkpoints and roadblocks from the West Bank. Supply of weapons to the Fatah PA faction. The entire Annapolis ‘process’, in which Israel is expected to hand over the West Bank to Fatah, a terrorist entity itself, but which will be even worse when it ends up in the hands of Hamas.

    Palestinian land

    It is not “Palestinian land”. It is part of mandatory Palestine which was illegally occupied in 1948 by Jordan. True, if the Arabs had ever wanted anything less than all of the land from the river to the sea, then some of it could have become a Palestinian state. And some, like Gush Etzion, could have remained in Jewish hands. But it’s irrelevant, since the Palestinians will not be satisfied by anything less than the whole enchilada.

    Why is Likud so insistent on colonizing the remainder of ancient Canaan?

    The Likud hasn’t been in power for some time. The present government, led by Kadima, unilaterally transferred territory to the Palestinians. And look what they got in return: terrorism and rocket attacks.

    Is worldwide hatred of [Israel and America] truly springing from hell or is there a more secular source.

    One source is radical Islamism, which won’t tolerate a non-Muslim presence in the Mideast.