From tough talk to studied ambiguity

Is it just me, or does the Obama Administration really make deliberately meaningless statements?

For example — something I’ve found particularly annoying — Obama, Clinton and others continue to say things like “it is time for these settlements to stop.”

Stop what? Stop being built? Stop expanding? Stop existing? We don’t know.

Or how about the vacuous statement recently made by Mr. Biden when asked about PM Netanyahu’s position that he will give the US until the end of the year to make progress on stopping the Iranian nuclear program:

Israel can determine for itself – it’s a sovereign nation – what’s in their interest and what they decide to do relative to Iran and anyone else.

Yes, Israel is a sovereign nation. But what does this tell us about the actions the US administration might take or not take if Israel asked for a green light (or attacked without one)? The answer is ‘nothing’, and other administration spokespersons were quick to make this clear.

On the other hand, here are some statements which are more meaningful. For example,

Israel has to remain a Jewish state and what I believe that means is that any negotiated peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians is going to have to involve the Palestinians relinquishing the right of return as it has been understood in the past.

Did Barak Obama say that? Yes, he did, in Cleveland in February 2008. Could we get him to say it again, today?

And of course, there was this, at AIPAC in June 2008:

The Palestinians need a state that is contiguous and cohesive, and that allows them to prosper — but any agreement with the Palestinian people must preserve Israel’s identity as a Jewish state, with secure, recognized and defensible borders. Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided.

It’s clear that the pre-1967 borders are not ‘defensible’. So did he mean that they would be expanded to include major settlement blocs? His handlers rushed to defuse the ‘undivided Jerusalem’ remark the day after, but he said it. Today, of course, he is saying that Israelis living in the eastern part of undivided Jerusalem can’t add spare bedrooms.

Finally, here is what he said about Iran at AIPAC:

We will also use all elements of American power to pressure Iran. I will do everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. That starts with aggressive, principled diplomacy without self-defeating preconditions, but with a cleareyed understanding of our interests. We have no time to waste. We cannot unconditionally rule out an approach that could prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon…

Finally, let there be no doubt: I will always keep the threat of military action on the table to defend our security and our ally Israel. Sometimes there are no alternatives to confrontation. But that only makes diplomacy more important. If we must use military force, we are more likely to succeed, and will have far greater support at home and abroad, if we have exhausted our diplomatic efforts.

Sounded tough, didn’t he?

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2 Responses to “From tough talk to studied ambiguity”

  1. Shalom Freedman says:

    The Obama Administration seems to be ‘stuck’ at the moment. Their economic decisions have prevented a major depression but have not really turned around the American economy. The debt and deficit crisis have been augmented by them.
    In foreign policy too they seem stuck. The ridiculous focus on ‘settlement growth’ will hopefully soon be a non-issue. But the many major real problems including Iranian nuclear development have not been touched at all.

  2. Grandma says:

    I cannot be as kind as Freedman. I am fed up with this administration. Obama says one thing one day and the next day it is reversed or misunderstood. Joe keeps sticking his foot in his mouth. They all remind me of a bunch of keystone cops. I am beginning to think we have a puppet president. The culprits are Pelosi, Reid, Dean, Kennedy, Murtha and the other undereducated, inexperienced, political lifers. They wouldn’t know about real life if it sat on their laps and called them Momma.
    We need to concentrate on getting these creeps out of office in 2010.