Here is the whole, poorly reasoned article. My thoughts below the article.
Richard BaehrObama is handing the Iranian situation with the tact and long-term vision the situation requires. There is no doubt we would like to see a more moderate regime, but that isn't going to happen right now. Iran's ruling cleric declared today there could have been no vote fixing in the election, and that Ahmadinejad's "re-election" was a historic moment for Iran.
One might think that Barack Obama's obsession with Jewish settlements in the West Bank would wane a bit, given the events in Iran. But to think this would be wrong.The President has applauded the vigorous election debate in Iran (the one between protestors and those who arrest and shoot them?), and ridiculed the cause of the protestors by arguing that Ahmadinejad and Mousavi are really not too far apart in their views. If that is the case, the Administration is in a sense arguing that the protestors need not be on the street, since if the choice were tweedledee and tweedledum, who cares whom the ruling mullahs select as the winner?While many European leaders have been using very tough language to criticize the Iranian regime for its handling of the election and its aftermath, and standing with the demonstrators, Barack Obama alone seems to be siding with the regime. Clearly, Obama does not see regime change in Iran as a positive development, and seems fearful of offending the mullahs and Ahmadinejad.
This go-soft-with-killers approach is causing unusual verbal gymnastics by Obama acolytes in the left wing press (e.g. the Nation, the Guardian) who are desperate to find a way to spin the story so that Obama's reticence in challenging the crackdown and the election theft is in fact seen as a calculated and nuanced approach to the Iranian situation.Israel, on the other hand, seems to be a different story, and the Administration seems to think it important to go public with criticism of Israel virtually every day. Three separate news stories in the last two days should make clear to all but the willfully blind that Obama still has Israel in its sights.George Mitchell, perhaps the most overrated diplomat of our time, uttered a stunningly stupid response when asked to define natural growth of settlements. Mitchell explained that he thought it meant -- population growth, or put another way, new babies. In fact, the harshest critics of Israeli settlements have defined it a bit more generously -- no new building in the settlements. For Mitchell, a family squeezing a new baby into an existing house is a problem, even if they do not add on a new room.Can you think of any other place in the world, where American policy can now be described as "thou shalt not have any new babies"?Barack Obama has gone even further than Mitchell in making demands on Israel. On two occasions now, he has made clear that the problem of the settlements is not growth, but their existence, calling for a "cessation of settlements". Obama said this first in Cairo, and then again at a press conference with Italian President Berlusconi.How extreme is Obama's position? Even Jimmy Carter has argued that some Israeli settlements will almost certainly survive following a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. Carter said as much to the residents of settlements in the Gush Etzion area the other day, just before he attacked Israel for treating Gazans like animals, not humans. For Carter, this would be considered one of his more balanced series of statements on the conflict in recent years.And where is Obama on the Gaza issue? Well, surprise, surprise, Obama and Hillary Clinton are cracking their whips trashing Israel for not opening up their border crossings to Gaza, to allow more "goods" into the country, falsely accusing Israel of blockading the Gaza strip.It turns out of course that hundreds of truckloads of food, medicine, and energy supplies are getting into Gaza every week, as they always have. But Israel is not facilitating the transfer of raw materials that could be diverted for use in the production of rockets or missiles (so the Gazans will have to continue to "struggle" to get them through tunnels under the porous border with Egypt, that the Egyptians could care less about policing).So what have we learned about the Obama administration's views on Iran and Israel this week?With Iran: speak softly and carry no stick. We dare not offend, or look like we are an actor in internal Iranian politics.With Israel: demand that Israel give up its sovereignty as a nation, and accede to Obama demands to stop having babies in West Bank settlements, then to abandon the settlements, and open up Gaza to any and all things the Hamas leaders in Gaza might want to bring into the strip.A few Democrats have asked the Administration to be more private with their disagreements with Israel, and to compromise a bit on natural growth of settlements. The message from the Obama team could not be clearer; it will continue to rebuke Israel at every opportunity and in as many ways as it sees fit, and there will be no compromise on the settlements issue.At some point, it seems fair to ask why Obama is taking this approach. There is more and more evidence to suggest that, alone among the non-lunatic nations of the world (North Korea thereby excepted), Obama has problems with only one: Israel. Obama has for all practical purposes, become the salesman for the Saudi "peace plan", designed to drive Israel back to the pre 67 war borders.As for the Iranian nuclear threat to Israel (and others), the Obama approach can best be described as "not a problem", or "mañana".
The question that really needs to be asked is whether Obama's shilling for the Saudi peace plan, and the non-stop fawning attention to the Muslim world since his inauguration represents something deeper, as Daniel Pipes has suggested. Have Americans unknowingly elected a pro-Islamist President?
When the Clerics agreed to do some recounts the other day, they also said it made no difference to the outcome - it would not be changed. The election meant nothing, really, just a little play acting at being a Republic.
To side with the protesters would make them a target for anti-Western sentiment in Iran - as it is they will be harshly punished I suspect. They need to stand on their own, as progressive Muslims who want a Democratic nation, and not be seen as puppets of the American government.
I have no idea why the conservatives can't see this. Perhaps when everything is black and white, all the shades of gray are not visible. If we side with the protesters in any public way, their reform movement will be vilified as something instigated by the West. There is no better way to make their voice meaningless than to have them associated with the US government.
Israel, however, is more complicated. They should be required to retreat with their settlements back within the pre-1967 war borders - although that will never happen. So in the absence of doing what is right, they should do what is feasible, which is to withdraw from Palestinian lands, open the borders to those who have been given clearance to work, and allow the fair entry of goods and humanitarian aid.
The US has been so politically correct with Israel over the years, really failing to call them on abuses and expansion, that they feel it is their right to do whatever they see fit. A friends returned recently from some time in Israel and frequently heard that Israelis were miffed that Obama hadn't cleared his Cairo speach with the Israeli government (as if ALL US presidents
have always cleared Mid-East speaches with them. I doubt that, but it would not surprise me.
Yes, Obama is being tough on Israel, and he needs to do so both to restrain their sense of entitlement, and to also demonstrate that US views on the Middle East are not purely pro-Israel and anti-Islam. That has been the perception in most Mid-East countries for at least the last eight years, maybe longer. That needs to change - it's not in our best interest and not in the best interest of Mid-East peace.