President Obama did one thing right this week. No, it wasn’t signing the health care "reform" bill, or the "correction", or the "correction to the correction". No, it was reminding Israel’s bombastic leader who the senior partner in our alliance is, as the Israeli publication Ha’aretz reports:
Details emerging from Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Washington remain incomplete, but the conclusion may nonetheless be drawn that the prime minister erred in choosing to fly to the United States this week. The visit – touted as a fence-mending effort, a bid to strengthen the tenuous ties between Netanyahu and U.S. President Barack Obama – only highlighted the deep rift between the American and Israeli administrations.
The prime minister leaves America disgraced, isolated, and altogether weaker than when he came.
Instead of setting the diplomatic agenda, Netanyahu surrendered control over it. Instead of leaving the Palestinian issue aside and focusing on Iran, as he would like, Netanyahu now finds himself fighting for the legitimacy of Israeli control over East Jerusalem.
Leaving Bibi to find his own way to dinner wasn’t a bad touch, either. As Patrick Lang put it:
Bibi was "dissed." Good, he needed the lesson. I think there will be more such lessons. Obama is a patient man. I now see that he favors the "ambush" style. Israeli hubris and arrogance favors an "adversary" who employs such method.
They will not learn the lesson implied in this Ha’aretz editorial because to do so would require a basic change in the way they think [of] themselves in relationship to the outer world and gentiles. They carry this burden in trying to deal with difficult situations. In the same way they will continue down the road of trying to deal with the Palestinians by treating them as sub-humans. That road leads to a dead end.
Lang spent some time as an observer of the Israeli Defense Forces. He comes by his opinions of Israeli society at least partly by observation. Netanyahu’s treatment of Vice President Biden two weeks ago should convince just about anyone that at least when it comes to Netanyahu and his immediate circles, their attitude toward the rest of the world sucks.
Something James Ala wrote last week seems prophetic in this context:
It is clear by recent events that Israel is totally contemptuous of the U.S. executive. The last U.S. President that Israel paid any heed to was the big dog, Hillary’s husband.
Big bad Bill got respect because he placed his foot up Bibi’s backside the last time the Likud leader got a bit too big for his britches. The WH at the time basically engineered the electoral defeat of Bibi back in the glory days of the 1990’s. Bill’s brass-knuckled brush back of the Israeli leader set the course for the near miss of Clinton’s Oslo efforts.
Bibi will eventually learn his lesson. Americans have a lesson to learn, too. As Pat Lang also noted indirectly, this should remove any doubt people might have had that Obama is either weak or incompetent at politics. This was a move you’d expect of a competent leader of a world power when dealing with a lesser power that has become a troublesome ally.
It should make clear that something I wrote some time ago is really true, Obama isn’t going to do anything he either doesn’t want to do or doesn’t have to. Assuming that he’s tentative or timid is a mistake, and it’s one that quite a few people have made, particularly among progressives. In short, he isn’t failing to do the right thing on health care or regulating finance because he’s afraid to; he’s refusing to do it because he doesn’t want to, and no one has figured out how to make it worth his while.
Perhaps if I keep writing this, with sufficient examples, people will pick up on this. I’m not holding my breath, though. As Bibi is proving by surviving repeated humiliations at the hands of American presidents, stupid dies hard.