Analysis of Abbas-Obama meeting by Barry Rubin: LCE carries the day

Don’t have time to comment. But Barry Rubin is possibly the political analyst who best understands the cultural dynamics at work in Arab politics. No cognitive egocentrism here, except, alas, where our POTUS is concerned.

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 9, 2010
Obama Meets Abbas: And Shows He Understands Neither Hamas Nor Israel, Neither the Middle East Nor Islamism

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By Barry Rubin

President Barack Obama has announced an additional $400 million in aid for housing, school construction and business development in Gaza and West Bank in his meeting with Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas. Calling the status quo in Gaza unsustainable, Obama said he was talking with Europeans, Egypt, Israel, and the PA on how to have a better approach that takes into account the security concerns of Israel and the needs of people in Gaza.

He also urged the need to rush ahead on a peace process which has no chance of success, calling this situation, too, unsustainable. It is in fact Obama’s policy which is unsustainable.

Obama said, “As part of the United Nations Security Council, we were very clear in condemning the acts that led to this crisis and have called for a full investigation.” What does this mean? Which acts? The acts of provocation and attacks on Israeli soldiers or is he blaming Israel? Who knows? The president of the United States is not supposed to be inscrutable.

Moreover, the president of the United States shouldn’t hide behind the UN. What is his policy? Where is the leadership?

And then he repeated something he has done before–claimed that Israelis backed his policy– which is blatantly untrue as polls show. “”What we also know is that the situation in Gaza is unsustainable. I think increasingly you’re seeing debates within Israel, recognizing the problems with the status quo.” The truth is that Obama understands nothing about Israel. He should leave the choice of Israel’s government to its people and the setting of policies to its government.

Aside from all this, Obama displays no strategic sense. He should make clear that the United States does not want an Iranian client, a revolutionary jihadists Taliban-like regime on the Mediterranean Sea. It should be the goal of U.S. policy to avoid this. Instead he deals with this as a “humanitarian” issue and makes no effort to get across what should be the main point.

And so Obama said:

“We agree that Israelis have the right to prevent arms from entering into Gaza that can be used to launch attacks into Israeli territory. But we also think that it is important for us to explore new mechanisms so that we can have goods and services, and economic development, and the ability of people to start their own businesses, and to grow the economy and provide opportunity within Gaza.”

He and his advisors have no comprehension of what makes Hamas and its leaders tick. So he wants a prosperous Gaza Strip under Hamas leadership? Money will be pouring in, jobs will be created. Of course, only until Hamas decides to start the next war. What does he envision is going to happen under his strategy? That the lean and hungry leaders of Hamas will sell out to the infidels and open a chain of fast-food restaurants?

Nor does he have the slightest clue about Palestinian politics. Just as he misstates Israeli thinking, Obama has no conception that Fatah is full of radicals and is in competition with Hamas to prove itself more militant. He keeps repeating the idea that the Palestinians are suffering so much that they are eager for a deal, the same error made–with more justification to be sure–by the Clinton Administration in 2000. And as long as the Palestinian Authority has no control over almost half the people it purports to rule, and Hamas uses its power to sabotage any agreement or stability, how could there possibly be progress on peace?

Remember the U.S. policy up until now has been to help the Palestinian Authority to become more stable and prosperous so that Gazans would contrast their situation with it and say, “Moderation is certainly better than extremism!” Now they and many others will say, “Extremism is certainly better than moderation! You still get Western support, they protect you from being overthrown, and you don’t have to moderte or sell out at all!”

Who’s really making the Middle East unsustainable? Barack Obama is with a policy of weaken your friends and help your enemies get stronger.

Note that Obama did not mention the conditions for easing the blockade–that Hamas abandon terrorism and accept Israel’s existence–nor did he say that anything the Palestinian Authority or Hamas is doing is “unsustainable.” Only Western and Israeli policy are said to be unsustainable. In effect, Obama is saying that the policies of Hamas, Iran, Hizballah, and Syria, among others, are infinitely sustainable, especially because of his reluctance to do things to make them unsustainable.

And thus in Middle East terms, he’s saying: Your intransigence has won. We couldn’t move you so our policy has failed. We must give in.

Let’s be clear here. The assessment in this article is a harsh one but the policy of this administration is a disastrous one. To condemn it has nothing to do with party or ideology. Unfortuntely, though, this administration has taken leave of any sense of national interests’ policy, has substituted Feelgoodpolitik for Realpolitik.

Obama may honestly believe that pumping money into specific projects in Gaza like houses, schools, and businesses is not a subsidy for Hamas. But of course that is what it will be. Anyone should be able to understand this:

–Schools. That means classrooms were Hamas can indoctrinate children into thinking that they should grow up to be terrorists, Israel must be wiped off the map, peace with Israel is unacceptable, the Jews must be murdered, America is evil and its influence should be driven out of the region, and all existing Arab states except for Syria should be overthrown.

If I was a cartoonist I’d draw a picture of a classroom. On the wall is a plaque saying: Paid for by the American people. The teacher is telling the kiddies: “And so you must all grow up to be holy warriors and wipe out the Zionist pigs and imperialist dogs.” That is no exaggeration.

—-Construction. Yes it would be nice if Gazans had jobs and nicer places to live. But no body in a Palestinian refugee camp (except perhaps if they bribe someone) will get a new apartment since they must continue to suffer until they can presumably return in triumph to take over housing recently vacated by murdered Israelis. Apartments will be given first by the Hamas government to its supporters and thus used to recruit people and bind them to the movement. Some of the concrete and other equipment will be siphoned off for building bunkers or rockets to fire at Israel.

If I were a cartoonist I’d draw a picture of an apartment building with a sign saying, “Gift of the American people” in front of it and with a Hamas official saying to a man: “And if you become a suicide bomber you not only get to go to heaven but your family will receive a two-bedroom apartment with a nice view of the beach.” That, too, is no exaggeration.

Remember the United States has no one on the ground in the Gaza Strip to supervise these projects and prevent Hamas from stealing money, materials, and products. I’d prefer all the money be given for aid to the West Bank than have any funds go to the Gaza Strip.

And what happens when Hamas attacks Israel again? I can see the media coverage now, complaining that Israel is damaging all those beautiful U.S.-financed buildings, which are being used as rocket-launching sites and bunkers by Hamas.

Can’t the U.S. government figure this stuff out for itself? The president is not the head of a foundation providing grants to community organizers. So the money will be taken by Hamas and other Islamists as “blood money” to pay compensation for the blockade or as tribute from a frightened America. It will win no friends and do no good strategically or politically.

Here’s the bottom line:

The president of the United States has just announced that his country must give in to the defiance of a dictatorship with about 1.2 million people. He is going to subsidize a genocidal-intentioned, antisemitic, terrorist regime allied to Iran and he is eager to stabilize its rule.

15 Responses to Analysis of Abbas-Obama meeting by Barry Rubin: LCE carries the day

  1. Analysis of Abbas-Obama meeting by Barry Rubin: LCE carries the day…

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  3. Cynic says:

    He is going to subsidize a genocidal-intentioned, antisemitic, terrorist regime allied to Iran and he is eager to stabilize its rule.

    He is acting true to form and in a manner is borrowing Ledeen’s Faster Please to grind down the Israelis.

    In an analogous form as people apply the “naive/ignorant” adjective to the agenda driven media with an axe to grind so do they apply it to a politician, thus completely misleading the reader.

    The guy is not stupid and with all those radicals around and his past month’s voting behaviour at the UN one cannot rule out malicious intent.

  4. Cynic says:

    If I were a cartoonist I’d draw a picture of an apartment building with a sign saying, “Gift of the American people” in front of it and with a Hamas official saying to a man: “And if you become a suicide bomber you not only get to go to heaven but your family will receive a two-bedroom apartment with a nice view of the beach.”

    Hamas destroys dozens of homes in southern Gaza

    RAFAH, Gaza Strip: Hamas police wielding clubs beat and pushed residents out of dozens of homes in the southern Gaza town of Rafah on Sunday before knocking the buildings down with bulldozers, residents said.

    Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers said the homes were built illegally on government land. Newly homeless residents were furious over Palestinians on bulldozers razing Palestinian homes
    ……………
    ………………..
    Her neighbor, Nazira Abu Jara, 56, said policewomen wearing face veils typical of conservative Muslim women beat her with clubs until she fled her house with her husband and two children. “Neighbors help us get by with charity. We can’t afford to build again,” Abu Jara said.

    Others picked through rubble to retrieve dusty clothing and mangled furniture.

    Residents said between 30 and 40 homes were torn down, ranging from concrete structures to tin shacks. They did not know how many people were affected. Hamas officials did not allow reporters into the area until the demolition was over.

  5. incognito says:

    Cynic,

    The guy is not stupid and with all those radicals around and his past month’s voting behaviour at the UN one cannot rule out malicious intent.

    The guy is certainly malicious, but he is stupidly malicious, because those whom he thinks he’s playing the game with will eat him alive without him even knowing it.
    He has no clue about the ME in the same manner in which he is ignorant of everything else.

    Hamas can do anything they want and nobody cares; no matter what Israel does, they’ll condemn it. That’s the reality and evidence and reason don’t count.

  6. obsy says:

    1. Very good analysis.
    2. I agree with Cynic.
    3. Two recent EoZ articles that demonstrate how aid is distributed in Gaza:

    http://elderofziyon.blogspot.com/2010/06/when-humanitarian-aid-becomes-political.html

    http://elderofziyon.blogspot.com/2010/06/which-gazans-get-first-choice-on-aid.html

  7. obsy says:

    Nobody is that stupid:

    http://rubinreports.blogspot.com/2010/06/clinton-to-brazilturkey-youre-against.html

    Turkey damages Obama’s master plan against Iranian Nukes, and the US-Government make excuses for Erdogan in this regard. That’s right, the Turks did not even have to come up with excuses, Clinton did it for them:

    “We disagreed with their vote,” Mrs. Clinton said to reporters in Colombia, where she was on a four-day swing through Latin America. “But I can understand from a diplomatic perspective why they might be able to make a convincing case for how they voted today.”

  8. incognito says:

    Methinks the US is acting just like a collapsing dominant power usually does: trying to appease bullies in the hope that they won’t kick it too hard.

    Alas, these bullies see appeasement as an invitation to kick as hard as possible.

  9. incognito says:

    Not stupid?

    Clinton to Brazil/Turkey: You’re Against U.S.? Hey, That’s Cool!
    http://rubinreports.blogspot.com/2010/06/clinton-to-brazilturkey-youre-against.html

    I would say imbecillic.

  10. obsy says:

    Good article about Obama’s shortcoming:

    For it was clear from the first that this president … was wanting in certain qualities citizens have until now taken for granted in their presidents. Namely, a tone and presence that said: This is the Americans’ leader, a man of them, for them, the nation’s voice and champion. Mr. Obama … What he lacked was that voice—and for good reason.

    Those qualities to be expected in a president were never about rhetoric; Mr. Obama had proved himself a dab hand at that on the campaign trail. They were a matter of identification with the nation and to all that binds its people together in pride and allegiance. These are feelings held deep in American hearts, unvoiced mostly, but unmistakably there and not only on the Fourth of July.

    A great part of America now understands that this president’s sense of identification lies elsewhere, and is in profound ways unlike theirs. He is hard put to sound convincingly like the leader of the nation, because he is, at heart and by instinct, the voice mainly of his ideological class.

    The beliefs and attitudes that this president has internalized are to be found everywhere—in the salons of the left the world over—and, above all, in the academic establishment, stuffed with tenured radicals and their political progeny. The places where it is held as revealed truth that the United States is now, and has been throughout its history, the chief engine of injustice and oppression in the world.

    They are attitudes to be found everywhere, but never before in a president of the United States. Mr. Obama may not hold all, or the more extreme, of these views. But there can be no doubt by now of the influences that have shaped him. …

    The truth about that distance is now sinking in, which is all to the good. A country governed by leaders too principled to speak the name of its mortal enemy needs every infusion of reality it can get.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703302604575294231631318728.html

  11. incognito says:

    Here’s more proof:

    Sources: Obama Administration to Support Anti-Israel Resolution at UN Next Week
    BY William Kristol

    THE WEEKLY STANDARD has learned that senior Obama administration officials have been telling foreign governments that the administration intends to support an effort next week at the United Nations to set up an independent commission, under UN auspices, to investigate Israel’s behavior in the Gaza flotilla incident. The White House has apparently shrugged off concerns from elsewhere in the U.S. government that a) this is an extraordinary singling out of Israel, since all kinds of much worse incidents happen around the world without spurring UN investigations; b) that the investigation will be one-sided, focusing entirely on Israeli behavior and not on Turkey or on Hamas; and c) that this sets a terrible precedent for outside investigations of incidents involving U.S. troops or intelligence operatives as we conduct our own war on terror.

    While UN Ambassador Susan Rice is reported to have played an important role in pushing for U.S. support of a UN investigation, the decision is, one official stressed, of course the president’s. The government of Israel has been consulting with the U.S. government on its own Israeli investigative panel, to be led by a retired supreme court justice, that would include respected international participants, including one from the U.S. But the Obama administration is reportedly saying that such a “kosher panel” is not good enough to satisfy the international community, or the Obama White House.

  12. Cynic says:

    incognito,

    But the Obama administration is reportedly saying that such a “kosher panel” is not good enough to satisfy the international community, or the Obama White House.

    Would halal do instead?

    I read somewhere that New Zealand has banned kosher killing. My question again, if this is the case, what do the Muslims do? Do their own killing on the sidewalk?

  13. incognito says:

    cynic,

    Enjoy:

    [BRILLIANT]
    Mark Steyn: This job, too, is beneath Obama
    http://www.ocregister.com/opinion/obama-252975-canadian-one.html

  14. E.G. says:

    incognito,

    I don’t think this Steyn piece is brilliant.
    It’s well written, as usual, and well captures much of the personna.
    It nicely complements Spengler’s “claim”.
    Fine with me.

  15. incognito says:

    I don’t think this Steyn piece is brilliant.

    To each his own.

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