With the exception of the nine years that I spent in Israel, I have never missed an American election, not even off-year primaries. I have always taken my responsibility to vote very seriously. So this coming Presidential election — which comes at a point of real historical crisis for the US — has seen me struggling mightily in an effort to find out what the candidates actually know about the critical issues and what they would be likely to do if elected.
Barack Obama is particularly impenetrable. Because of the multiple constituencies that he is trying to appeal to, he is unlikely to be too specific. He’s an excellent speaker and has plenty of backup and preparation — his foreign policy staff numbers 300, according to the NY Times. And of course pre-election promises have historically had little relationship to presidential actions.
But candidates, even smooth ones like Obama, sometimes reveal their degree of competence on an issue despite careful programming. Obama’s AIPAC statement that “Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided” and its immediate retraction in the face of howls from Arabs and the Left was instructive and very disquieting. Obviously this was one issue that Obama had not understood.
Now Obama has made another statement on the Middle East, and unfortunately it is a doozy. Thanks to Martin Kramer for catching this:
I think King, King Abdullah [of Jordan] is as savvy an analyst of the region and player in the region as, as there is, one of the points that he made and I think a lot of people made, is that we’ve got to have an overarching strategy recognizing that all these issues are connected. If we can solve the Israeli-Palestinian process, then that will make it easier for Arab states and the Gulf states to support us when it comes to issues like Iraq and Afghanistan.
It will also weaken Iran, which has been using Hamas and Hezbollah as a way to stir up mischief in the region. If we’ve gotten an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, maybe at the same time peeling Syria out of the Iranian orbit, that makes it easier to isolate Iran so that they have a tougher time developing a nuclear weapon. — Obama on Meet the Press, July 27, 2008. My emphasis.
Keep in mind that he uttered this pernicious nonsense after his visit to the Middle East, after his intensive discussions on Mideast issues! Kramer calls it “The Myth of Linkage“, and it appears in the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group report, as well as in statements by Jimmy Carter and Obama supporter Zbigniew Brzezinski.
Obama’s statement indicates either 1) he spoke without thinking, 2) he has no understanding of the intentions and strategies of the players in the region, or 3) he — like Carter, Brzezinski and Baker, wishes to provide a justification for a blatantly pro-Arab and anti-Israel policy.
I suppose alternative 1) is the best we can hope for.