9 thoughts on “Steve Walt: Obama’s Policy Options With a Recalcitrant Israel – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. Walt’s position seems to think the Arab-Israeli conflict exists in a vacuum, both in domestic American political life and in international relations.
    First, this assumes that the reason there isn’t peace is largely or entirely Israel’s fault, thus pressure on Israel will bring about peace. However, I don’t know that Obama really thinks this way.
    Second, if Obama were to do this, supporters of Israel in the US will view this as a hostile act. There are a lot of supporters of Israel, far more than there are people who believe that it is Israel’s fault that there isn’t peace. What would be the political price for such a move?
    Thirdly, how would the Arab/Muslim enemies of Israel react to this? Would they say, “good, we are getting closer to peace, we can now reach a compromise peace”, or would they say “good, the Americans are cutting Israel loose, we can now escalate our demands because the Americans will eventually come around to pressuring Israel to capitulate on these as well”?
    This is what happened in 1967. De Gaulle told everyone he was cutting Israel loose. This led to Nasser escalating his demands and rhetoric and it led to war. De Gaulle, in trying to prevent war instead made it inevitable.

    1. De Gaulle told everyone he was cutting Israel loose. This led to Nasser escalating his demands and rhetoric and it led to war. De Gaulle, in trying to prevent war instead made it inevitable.

      Wow, I had no idea that the ’67 War was DeGaulle’s fault! That’s amazing. Where do you get this stuff from? Do you make it up or read it somewhere? What gives you the idea that Nasser was influenced in anything he did by anything DeGaulle did or said?

  2. RE: “I suspect it would not take much U.S. pressure to produce the necessary shift in Israel’s attitudes.”

    MY COMMENT: I fear that Israel may have reached a ‘tipping point’ so that external pressure (even from the U.S.) will now only engender intransigence. Time will tell.

  3. Just a thought:

    How is it that downgrading the massive military or economic aid is not considered as an option?

    One of the sickest elements of the US:Israeli relationship seems to be Israel’s use of American supplied munitions on its opponents and neighbours, whether cluster munitions in Lebanon or Phosphorous or DIME in Gaza … particularly when the deployment of those munitions would at times seem to be part of considered and deliberate crimes against humanity… Surely Obama must be able to see the need to publically dissociate the US from Israel’s military excesses?

  4. What is for obvious reasons lacking in Walt’s policy directions is an indication of how much of this President Obama can afford and yet get a second term.

  5. I agree with Walt’s suggestions, but I think he forgets his own analysis of the Lobby and its influence on U.S. foreign policy vis a vis Israel. There is no way Obama will buck the Lobby, which is 100% behind the current Israeli government.

    He may talk the talk, but he won’t walk the walk, anymore than he has on the bank bailouts. Mr. Obama is not his own man, for all his charm.

  6. An earlier post led to this one. De Gaulle says in his memoirs remarkably little about Israel – less than one and a half page in all. But some of what he says is still relevant today:

    “But while the existence of Israel seemed to me to be more than justified, I considered that a great deal of caution was called for in her handling of the Arabs. The latter were her neighbors, and would always remain so. It was at their expense and on their lands that Israel had set herself up as a sovereign State. In doing so, she had wounded them in their religion and their pride. For this reason when Ben Gurion spoke to me of his plan to settle four or five million Jews in Israel, which could not contain them within her present frontiers, and revealed to me his intention of extending these frontiers at the earliest opportunity, I urged him not to do so. “France”, I said, “will help you to survive in the future as she has helped you in the past, whatever happens. But she is not prepared to provide you with the means of conquering new territory. You have brought off a remarkable achievement, Do not overdo it now. Suppress the pride which, according to Aeschylus, “is the son of happiness and devours its father.” ‘

    I wonder, did Ben-Gurion also have this advice in mind when he counseled against retaining the bulk of the territory occupied in the Six Day War?

    And what is this about Israel not being able to have four to five million Jews within its 1967 borders? One doesn’t immediately have to refer to a City State as Singapore but a country I am rather familiar with, the Netherlands, is barely, including its inland waters, twice the size of that Israel and has now about 16.5 million people. I note this to preempt “Lebensraum” arguments.

  7. Encourage other U.S. allies to use their influence too. In the past, the United States has often pressed other states to upgrade their own ties with Israel. If pressure is needed, however, the United States could try a different tack. For example, we could quietly encourage the EU not to upgrade its relations with Israel until it had agreed to end the occupation.

    I think Israel is going to be very lucky to maintain the relations it’s got now even with US arm twisting in its favour. Other countries at least pretend to take the human rights conditions seriously. There is only so much Israeli middle finger the European Parliament is going to tolerate. It had already postponed a vote on Israel’s latest upgrade before operation Drop Dead.

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