One side effect of the current showdown between Washington and Jerusalem is that it has provided an opportunity for American diplomats and Mideast experts to step back and reassess the situation, and the results have been fascinating. Several key figures long involved in pushing the Oslo/land-for-peace equation are now saying quite bluntly that it doesn’t make sense, at least for now, and that the Obama administration should back off.
I've always regarded Aaron David Miller as one of the smartest, most thoughtful U.S. peace processors. Since he left the State Department a few years back, he's been one of my favorite analysts for the simple reason that his take on the Middle East doesn't flow from hardened ideology but from long experience and a willingness to constantly reevaluate old assumptions.
Call most Middle East analysts about the crisis du jour, and you know in advance what they're going to say; calling Miller often produces interesting journalistic surprises.
Slowly, reluctantly and with trepidation, Israel turned to its army this week to redeem a military campaign against Hezbollah in Lebanon that its air force has proved unable to win. The ground assault took place amid rising international opposition to Israeli actions, sparked by rising civilian casualties.
Speaking at Monday’s Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly in Washington, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sounded very much like a man who didn’t want to antagonize the president he was about to meet under visibly strained circumstances.
Several hours later the White House distributed a meeting “readout” that may have set a new record for brevity. Amid an almost total clampdown on leaks, the statement said only that the two leaders “discussed a number of issues in the U.S.-Israel bilateral relationship” and that President Barack Obama “reaffirmed our strong commitment to Israel’s security, and discussed security cooperation on a range of issues.”
Obama’s Iran deadline bought some time in his relationship with Israel and its leader, Benjamin Netanyahu.
While President Obama met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu halfway on the volatile issue of Iran during their inaugural meeting in Washington this week, gaps between the two allies on the issue remain wide — and could get wider still as the administration begins dealing with a palate of unattractive policy options.
No alternate text on picture! - define alternate text in image propertiesThe revelation that Iran had a secret nuclear site deep in the arid mountains near the holy city of Qom and protected by anti-aircraft missile batteries has dramatically increased the likelihood of strong sanctions against the Tehran regime, but it is unlikely to change a strategic calculus that does not favor U.S. or Israeli military action.