Last week at the United Nations Security Council, America reluctantly vetoed a resolution attacking Israeli settlement expansion as illegal and an obstacle to peace that was pushed by Arab countries. But the American veto only came after the Palestinians rejected a compromise “presidential statement” that America was willing to support which would have lambasted Israeli settlements as illegitimate.
America’s incomprehensible handling of the situation highlighted once again the Obama administration’s amateurish foreign policy. What follows are three major takeaways from the whole affair.
Takeaway No. 1: Obama showed a willingness to attack Israel at the U.N.
Many supporters of Israel were disturbed when Foreign Policy magazine reported last week that the United States had apparently informed Arab governments about its willingness to support a “compromise” Security Council “presidential statement” declaring that the Council “does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity, which is a serious obstacle to the peace process.”
This was alarming not because of the content of the statement — however misguided — but because of the forum. Having disagreements over policy with our closest and most steadfast ally in the Middle East is one thing. After all, it couldn’t be clearer that the Obama administration happens to think Israeli settlements are responsible for, well, nearly all the problems in the world. But expressing a willingness to side against Israel at one of the world’s most blatantly anti-Israel organizations is revolting.
There is a time and a place to express American disagreement with a strong ally like Israel, most especially in private, leader to leader. But just as you don’t go to a Klu Klux Klan meeting to discuss problems in the black community, America shouldn’t being joining in the Israel bashing that routinely occurs at the United Nations.
Takeaway No. 2: Kissing up to unsavory regimes while kicking friends fails again
There have been many examples of the Obama administration kicking traditional American allies with the hope of winning favor from unsavory regimes that aren’t traditional friends of the U.S. Recently, for instance, it was reported that the Obama administration provided British nuclear secrets to the Russians in order to win support for the START treaty.
But this strategy has been a miserable failure and last week’s U.N. situation once again demonstrated why. Even though the Obama administration ultimately vetoed the resolution, they alienated Israel by showing a willingness to bash them at the United Nations – something America rarely does at the disgustingly anti-Israel international body as a matter of decency and self-respect. Plus, even though the U.S vetoed the resolution, American U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice did deliver a shockingly harsh condemnation of the Jewish state at the Security Council meeting.
Rice said, in part, “Our opposition to the resolution before this Council today should therefore not be misunderstood to mean we support settlement activity. On the contrary, we reject in the strongest terms the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity. For more than four decades, Israeli settlement activity in territories occupied in 1967 has undermined Israel’s security and corroded hopes for peace and stability in the region. Continued settlement activity violates Israel’s international commitments, devastates trust between the parties, and threatens the prospects for peace.”
Nowhere in the full statement was there any mention of four decades of Arab rejectionism, belligerence and terrorism as an obstacle to peace – not to mention Arab indoctrination of Jew hatred.
At the same time, despite showing a willingness to side with the Israel’s enemies to attack Israel at the U.N. and despite delivering a harsh diatribe against Israel at the Security Council meeting, the U.S. still didn’t win any points with Arab regimes or the Arab street because it was ultimately seen as publicly vetoing the resolution.
As former George W. Bush Middle East adviser Elliot Abrams noted in a blog post entitled “How to Lose Friend and Not Influence People”: “Arab newspapers will headline the veto — assuming of course that they have space in their pages tomorrow after covering the revolts in Tunisia, Yemen, Algeria, Libya, Bahrain and Egypt — and are very unlikely to cover her [Susan Rice’s] speech. Only Israelis and supporters of Israel in the United States will study her language, and remember it.”
Such ineptitude – and the failure to convince the Palestinians to go with the American compromise resolution – demonstrates American diplomatic weakness and the Obama administration’s utter foreign policy incompetence.
Takeaway No. 3: Obama fiddles with inconsequential resolution while the Middle East burns
Finally, what is perhaps most stunning of all is the wasted time and energy the Obama administration expended on this issue when the Middle East was burning. While revolutions are upending the old order in the Middle East, President Obama and his administration spent an outlandish amount of time negotiating a resolution that was totally meaningless in practice.
According to a report, Obama himself apparently took 50 minutes out of his schedule to pressure Palestinian Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to support the American compromise position. And if Obama gave up 50 minutes of his time, that means Hillary Clinton and other top foreign policy officials likely wasted precious hours on the matter — and it was not like there weren’t more important issues to deal with. What’s more, despite Obama expending personal capital on something of so little consequence, he couldn’t even persuade the Palestinians to come around to the American position!
Forget a 3:00 a.m. call, Obama can’t even seem to handle a 3:00 p.m. call. It’s time for the administration to get its foreign policy act together.