alternate title: Foreign Policy: It's not really his thing
I had a "holy shit" moment reading The Economist on-line today during my coffee break. The story was one that initially appeared to be a good news story about Israel re-freezing development in the West Bank.
“I think it is promising,” Mr Obama told reporters aboard Air Force One. “I commend Prime Minister Netanyahu for taking, I think, a very constructive step. It’s not easy for him to do, but I think it’s a signal that he is serious.”
This is indeed very promising ... and surprising coming from Netanyahu. I wonder what motivated him to do this? Maybe he was visited by a ghost in his dreams that showed him the toll that unending conflict with the Palestinians would have on the Israeli people. Or maybe it was something else:
Under this new deal, Israel will agree to a 90-day re-freeze in return for a generous package of military and diplomatic goodies from America. These include an additional 20 F-35 stealth fighters, worth $3 billion, to be added at America's expense to the original 20 ordered by Israel.
(emphasis added by me, to indicate when the "holy shit" moment occurred.)
And here in Canada we have to pay for our F35s. With money. Hey ... if we build a settlement on Hans Island, do you suppose ....
3 billion dollars of jet fighters to freeze development for 90 days -- less than three months. Jet fighters.
The Economist says that it would be hard for Netanyahu "to backslide now that the president had publicly announced the accord." Uh. I guess not. Why would he want to? He's getting a fleet of brand new stealth fighters and a bunch of other stuff for free, and all he has to do is give the construction workers an extra long Hanukkah break. It's not the President's influence that is responsible for the freeze, but the billions of dollars in bribes.
American diplomats say "they hope that by then the two parties will have agreed on the borders of the future Palestinian state, so that further argument over the settlements will be unnecessary." I think Obama and his advisors have gone mad. The likelihood of that magically happening over the next three months after decades of failed attempts, is about the same as the chances of Hugo Chavez privatizing Venezuela postal delivery.
Obama, by gambling billions of dollars on this unlikely scenario (in spite of the massive fiscal deficit he faces at home) appears extremely desperate to live up to the quasi-success that some of his predecessors had in middle-east peace broking. If not that, then the desperation comes from trying to earn ex post facto the Nobel Peace Prize that he was awarded last year ... and he's trying to do it by giving away jet fighters.