Monday, 19 April 2010

Israel Matzav: Oops! There goes one of those National Security Advisers

Oops! There goes one of those National Security Advisers

Two weeks ago, I blogged a Washington Post article by David Ignatius, in which Ignatius reported that the Obama administration was considering imposing 'peace' on Israel and the 'Palestinians.' Ignatius described President Obama wandering into a pow-wow of National Security Advisers.

Obama's attention was focused by a March 24 meeting at the White House with six former national security advisers. The group has been meeting privately every few months at the request of Gen. Jim Jones, who currently holds the job. In the session two weeks ago, the group had been talking about global issues for perhaps an hour when Obama walked in and asked what was on people's minds.

Brent Scowcroft, who served as national security adviser for presidents Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush, spoke up first, according to a senior administration official. He urged Obama to launch a peace initiative based on past areas of agreement; he was followed by Zbigniew Brzezinski, the national security adviser for Jimmy Carter, who described some of the strategic parameters of such a plan.

Support for a new approach was also said to have been expressed by Sandy Berger and Colin Powell, who served as national security advisers for presidents Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan, respectively. The consensus view was apparently shared by the other two attendees, Frank Carlucci and Robert C. McFarlane from the Reagan years.

McFarlane sets out his views in Monday's Wall Street Journal and from the sounds of it, Ignatius has misrepresented them (full article for those who don't have a Journal subscription here).

[H]istory cautions that few presidents achieve more than one significant reorientation in American foreign and domestic policy per term. Before committing to the enormous amount of time, resources and political capital needed to achieve goals of this magnitude, it is prudent to consider whether conditions on the ground warrant such an investment. If not, the president may wish to stake out interim goals so as to lay a foundation for a comprehensive settlement in the future.

The experience of the Reagan administration is instructive. In 1982, President Ronald Reagan tasked me and other members of his administration to analyze America's top foreign challenges and propose a long-term national strategy for them while concurrently launching a vigorous advocacy campaign for liberty, democracy and human rights throughout the world. President Reagan specifically asked us to lay out priorities, refrain from investing American power frivolously and, if a near-term solution was not tenable, solve a piece of each problem so that we could build later upon the initial successes. As policies, resources and diplomacy were applied, progress would create momentum that would lead toward concrete achievements over time. [That sounds like a real executive's instructions, doesn't it? Too bad Obama has never run anything before, so he won't work that way. CiJ]

During his first four years, President Reagan concentrated mainly on rebuilding U.S. military strength. [Obama's successor is likely to have to do the same. Reagan followed Obama's idol, Jimmy Carter. CiJ] Yet when he left office, Reagan had accelerated the end of the Cold War and achieved the first reduction of nuclear weapons in history. The lesson: Don't rush to tackle a problem until you've prepared the ground, minimized risk, and have reasonable prospects for success. [Second lesson: You accomplish a lot more from a position of strength than you do going around the world apologizing and bowing down to everyone. CiJ]

Fast forward to today, and President Obama has laid out a sweeping agenda of change for the Middle East with at most seven years to achieve it. For the president to succeed, he will require a sober assessment of his obstacles. For example, Hamas -- the dominant power in Gaza -- insists that Israel must be destroyed and negotiation is out of the question. This is likely an intractable position. How does this impact the president's vision for the region? [As Ernie would say on Sesame Street, "Gee, I don't know Burt." Obama hasn't thought about it. CiJ]

To improve his chances for success, Mr. Obama should focus on the building blocks essential to an ultimate settlement. This means, above all, preventing Hamas from taking over the West Bank. To that end, the U.S. is already working hard to shore up the Palestinian Authority security apparatus in that territory. Additionally, Israel has been working successfully with Palestinian security forces to crack down on criminals and terrorists that threaten both the Palestinian Authority and Israelis. While the Palestinians are not yet ready to do the job alone, this progress provides a basis for hope that eventually they may be able to do so. [But not necessarily by Fayyad's August 2011 deadline or by the end of Obama's first - and hopefully only - term. CiJ]


Another small but important step for the president would be to demand that both the Israeli and Palestinian delegations show up for a first round of talks, and sit down and behave as responsible leaders. For over a year, no Palestinian leader, including Palestinian Authority President and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas, has been willing to sit down at the same table with Israeli leaders. How can we move forward without someone representing the Palestinians at the negotiating table?

No one should underestimate how difficult it will be to reach a comprehensive settlement. While the terms Israel offered to the Palestinians at Camp David in 2000 (and again in 2008) are probably acceptable to the majority of Israelis and Palestinians, sticking points remain.

It sure doesn't sound like McFarlane is in favor of an imposed 'solution' does it? In fact, it sounds like McFarlane thinks that Obama ought to beat up on the 'Palestinians' to sit down at the negotiating table. Funny how Ignatius and Helene Cooper both missed that, isn't it?


Israel Matzav: Oops! There goes one of those National Security Advisers

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...