" />

Right Web

Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

Boxed in on the Middle East

President Obama’s decision to come out against the Palestinian bid for statehood at the UN General Assembly this week might have spelled an end to four-decades of U.S. leadership on Middle East peace. Boxed in by the Palestinians and the surging international support for their cause, Obama is also facing tremendous pressure at home, where presidential-election politics threaten to further drive the United States into isolation in its one-sided support for Israel. Leading the charge is Texas Governor Rick Perry, the Republican presidential candidate who claimed at a press conference earlier in the week that “help is on the way” and that his Christian faith gives him “clear directive to support Israel.” Such faith apparently does not include giving moral support to the Palestinians, whom Perry equated with “orchestrators of terrorism.”

Print Friendly

The past week has seen the United States effectively relinquish its role as the key negotiator of Middle East peace as the Palestinians, ignoring President Barack Obama’s entreaties, announced their decision to pursue UN membership and be recognized as an independent state. One of the key reasons for Obama’s failure to bridge the Mideast divide has been domestic politics—the power of U.S. “pro-Israel” factions, encouraged by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to threaten the administration’s base if he strays too far from the Israeli line.

This pressure played a key role in forcing the president to walk back his earlier commitments to Palestinian statehood and declare to the UN General Assembly on Wednesday that “statements and resolutions at the UN” will not bring peace to the region. As Daniel Levy, a former Israeli peace negotiator in the government of Ehud Barak and currently a fellow at the New America Foundation, told the New York Times, “The U.S. cannot lead on an issue that it is so boxed in on by its domestic politics. And therefore, with the region in such rapid upheaval and the two-state solution dying, as long as the U.S. is paralyzed, others are going to step up.”

“Others” did yesterday, in particular, the conservative French President Nikolas Sarkozy, who directly contradicted Obama during his follow up speech at the UN, saying that it was time to “begin negotiations, and adopt a precise timetable” for Palestinian statehood.

At the same time that new forces are emerging to displace the U.S. role in the Middle East, domestic U.S. forces on the right are stepping up their challenges to Obama on Israel, and thereby further isolating both Israel and the United States vis-a-vis the growing international momentum in favor of a Palestinian state. Most notable among these is Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry, who during a carefully timed press conference on Tuesday lambasted the administration’s Middle East policies and promised Israelis that “help is on the way.” Sharing a stage with deputy Knesset speaker and World Likud chairman Danny Danon and a bevy of other right-wing figures, the Texas governor also used the opportunity to criticize the president’s efforts to engage regimes in Iran and Syria.

The press conference, which took place a few blocks from where the General Assembly was convening in New York, served to put Obama on notice that any effort to criticize Israel could well cost him at the ballot box. Reiterating his oft-stated view that his Christian faith bestows him a “clear directive to support Israel,” Perry repeatedly criticized Obama’s “policy of appeasement toward the Palestinians.” He went on to call for the ejection of the PLO diplomatic mission from Washington and a halt to U.S. aid for the Palestinian Authority if its leadership continues to pursue statehood—a proposal that not even the Israeli government supports. Although the Texas governor expressed his support for an eventual Palestinian state, he nevertheless called for the continuation of Israeli settlement construction in the occupied West Bank, declaring: “It’s their land; it’s their right.” His endorsement of the settlement project would abrogate some four decades of U.S. government policy.

Summing up his support for one-sided U.S. backing of the Israeli government, Perry seemed to suggest that Palestinians were simply less deserving of U.S. concern. "The Obama policy of moral equivalency,” he said, “gives equal standing to the grievances of Israelis and Palestinians, including the orchestrators of terrorism, [which] is a very dangerous insult."

The PLO’s Washington representative, Maen Rashid Areikat—whom Perry would send packing—called Perry’s suggestion “a discriminatory and racist position.”

The conference is Perry’s latest overture in a likely strategy to court the support of Christian Zionists and influential neoconservatives in Washington. Many of his remarks Tuesday echoed similar statements he made in recent op-eds in the Wall Street Journal and the Jerusalem Post, the latter of which Jonathan Tobin, editor of the neoconservative Commentary magazine, called “exemplary,” observing that “if you’re a presidential candidate who wants to lay down a pro-Israel marker, putting your name on an op-ed in the Jerusalem Post as a supporter of the Jewish state will do just as well.”

This was not the first time that Perry has attempted to strut his “pro-Israel” agenda. He previously criticized Obama’s allusion to Israel’s 1967 borders in May and called for the arrest of Gaza Freedom Flotilla activists in June. His courtship of neoconservatives and Bush-era hardliners dates back at least to this summer, when Perry had a closed-door briefing with Douglas Feith, William Luti, and Andrew McCarthy, which was reportedly convened by Donald Rumsfeld.

In a GOP field that was once thought to be marked by “the end of the neocon consensus,” hawkishness on the Middle East has come roaring back from Texas.

Share RightWeb

Featured Profiles

Brigette Gabriel, an anti-Islamic author and activist, is the founder of the right-wing group ACT! for America.


The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), one of the more effective U.S. lobbying outfits, aims to ensure that the United States backs Israel regardless of the policies Israel pursues.


Frank Gaffney, director of the hardline neoconservative Center for Security Policy, is a longtime advocate of aggressive U.S. foreign policies, bloated military budgets, and confrontation with the Islamic world.


Shmuley Boteach is a “celebrity rabbi” known for his controversial “pro-Israel” advocacy.


United against Nuclear Iran is a pressure group that attacks companies doing business in Iran and disseminates alarmist reports about the country’s nuclear program.


Huntsman, the millionaire scion of the Huntsman chemical empire, is a former Utah governor who served as President Obama’s first ambassador to China and was a candidate for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination.


Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) is one the Senate’s more ardent supporters of militaristic U.S. foreign policies.


For media inquiries,
email rightwebproject@gmail.com

From the Wires

Print Friendly

AIPAC has done more than just tolerate the U.S. tilt toward extreme and often xenophobic views. Newly released tax filings show that the country’s biggest pro-Israel group financially contributed to the Center for Security Policy, the think-tank that played a pivotal role in engineering the Trump administration’s efforts to impose a ban on Muslim immigration.


Print Friendly

It would have been hard for Trump to find someone with more extreme positions than David Friedman for U.S. ambassador to Israel.


Print Friendly

Just as the “bogeyman” of the Mexican rapist and drug dealer is used to justify the Wall and mass immigration detention, the specter of Muslim terrorists is being used to validate gutting the refugee program and limiting admission from North Africa, and Southwest and South Asia.


Print Friendly

Although the mainstream media narrative about Trump’s Russia ties has been fairly linear, in reality the situation appears to be anything but.


Print Friendly

Reagan’s military buildup had little justification, though the military was rebuilding after the Vietnam disaster. Today, there is almost no case at all for a defense budget increase as big as the $54 billion that the Trump administration wants.


Print Friendly

The very idea of any U.S. president putting his personal financial interests ahead of the U.S. national interest is sufficient reason for the public to be outraged. That such a conflict of interest may affect real U.S. foreign policy decisions is an outrage.


Print Friendly

The new US administration is continuing a state of war that has existed for 16 years.


RightWeb
share