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Tardy, and then Inconsistent

Reader comment on item: Obama's Failed Middle East Speech

Submitted by Ron Thompson (United States), May 20, 2011 at 09:34

It seems too kind to say that Obama's comments on the Arab revolts showed elements of common sense and eloquence. I'm more inclined to agree with reformist Arab commentators who said they were "too little and too late." While I might give the President a little slack on Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, it was a lasting failure of leadership for him not to almost immediately come out with the strongest and most unambiguous condemnation of Syria and the Assad family/Alawite dictatorship. Not only has theirs been the bloodiest attempt at repression, but by no stretch of realistic imagination is Syria under their control ever going to be a 'friend', even in a realpolitik sense, of the United States, let alone Israel. It is almost impossible to imagine anything worse following Assad, and even more, any successor government being equally favorable to Iran.

As for his comments on Israel, even with mentioning or resurrecting the dead 1967 borders, this was more annoying than dangerous. Because it was inconsistent in a small sense to include the phrase "exchange of territories" (i.e. including most of the settlements) in mentioning that old border, and inconsistent in the larger sense with his continued pledge to support the security of Israel, which I happen to believe he means.

But I can't hold Obama entirely alone for continuing this inconsistency and muddle. As long as there is no public voice among Israel's oldest and strongest friends calling for a discussion about what to do if there if there is never going to be a Palestinian State (which would for the first time openly acknowledge that the Palestinians specifically and the Arabs in general have a permanent Veto Power over the creation of that State as long as their demands are inconsistent with the security or survival of Israel) then I don't see how a President still on a steep learning curve can be excessively blamed for making statements that also fail to reflect that reality.

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