Team Obama’s obsession: A “peace process” that’s past its shelf life

Stick a fork in it. And get a clue while you’re at it, Team Obama.

It’s time to just say it. The obsession of Barack Obama and John Kerry with forcing along a discredited and unproductive “peace process” involving the Palestinian Arabs and Israel is weird – even creepy.

Notice I didn’t say “peace process between the Palestinian Arabs and Israel.” There’s nothing “between” about it. At this point, the Obama-Kerry show seems to involve the Palestinian Arabs and Israel only tangentially. All the action is in Washington, D.C., and it’s all one-sided.

When we left our drama last week, Mahmoud Abbas had just delivered “three ‘no’s’” to the White House on this freighted topic: no recognition of Israel as a Jewish state; no relinquishment of a so-called “right of return”; and no commitment to honoring a pact with Israel as an “end of conflict” between the two.

There’s nothing for Israel in this deal, in other words. Abbas won’t sign up to anything that would make Israeli commitments or concessions worthwhile. He’s very explicit about that. His ruling cabal in the West Bank in fact organized rent-a-crowds for a show of public support for his position, in advance of his visit to Washington – and was primed to run a victory lap celebrating his intransigence immediately afterward. Abbas couldn’t be more categorical about his refusal to engage with John Kerry’s negotiating framework; not if he spelled it out in six-foot neon letters.


Three no's, two blue ties, and one dead "peace process." (Image: CC)
Three no’s, two blue ties, and one dead “peace process.” (Image: CC)

As Jonathan Tobin points out, however, Israel has agreed to Kerry’s proposed framework for talks going forward, although with reservations. It’s Abbas who won’t come to the table. He won’t agree to even talk about finding common ground.

Seems like we’ve been here before, of course. But there are reasons for the current impasse, beyond the Palestinian Arabs’ longstanding pattern of refusals. The Quartet-brokered, Oslo-based peace process is a dead letter, and I think everyone outside Washington and Brussels can sense that. Oslo was born out of a moment that has passed: a moment of unchallenged American supremacy and the illusion of unforced global stasis. That moment is gone. The rise of a more territorial, geographically oriented Islamism, coupled with the Arab Spring, and now Putin’s invasion of Crimea, have demonstrated that too much of our current reality has changed.

It would be foolish of Abbas to make commitments at this point; foolish of Arabs throughout the region, and Islamists of all stripes. Too many opportunities are now possible. The last thing anyone wants to do is make commitments that will leave him out of position to profit from the coming instability.

Multinational observers or peacekeeping forces may be highly exploitable, as they have been in southern Lebanon, but their utility depends on an excruciatingly slow, indirect approach to undermining Israel. They could be a serious inconvenience for a quicker-acting approach, if such multinational forces took up a position – through some agreement along the lines of the Kerry proposal – in the Jordan Valley.

Abbas has excellent strategic reasons to reject the idea of a U.S.-brokered multinational force in the Jordan Valley. So do his various patrons. Now isn’t the time to commit to deals. Not with the status quo about to bust wide open.

The Obama administration hasn’t realized it’s 2014, largely because its members haven’t even realized it’s no longer 1968. That’s another story, but it’s central to the failing dynamic of the Middle East peace process. The context in which the Oslo framework was the best or only option is simply gone.

Under these emerging conditions, Israel’s continued cooperation has a twofold purpose, I believe: first, to show good faith in general – a willingness to negotiate to settle the Palestinian problem – and second, to maintain her good relations with the United States.

Netanyahu knows how far he will go, and he doesn’t plan to sell out Israel’s national interests. But one of Israel’s interests is the perception that U.S. power matters to the region and is a force friendly to Israel. That perception is broadly stabilizing: it’s good for everyone who wants peace and a continuation of the post-1945 international norms. If a day comes when it literally is not in Israel’s interest to support that perception of “stabilizing American power,” and of Israel aligned with it, the ensuing chaos will be catastrophic for far more governments and peoples than Israel’s.

Regrettably, the Obama-Kerry obsession with obtaining a “peace” deal on the Oslo premise, when the basis for it no longer exists, is itself a trend that undercuts stability. It just adds to the U.S. administration’s image of cluelessness – or even psychosis.

The latest example is the apparent deployment of the “Pollard card” to keep alive a scheduled release of jailed terrorists – a release that some Israeli politicians are now laying their bodies across the train tracks to stop, because it’s clear that nothing will ever come of the concession of releasing convicted, murderous terrorists to Abbas. Unrest in Netanyahu’s governing coalition could generate a crisis of government for him if he goes forward with the release. The Obama administration, by “not ruling out” a release of Jonathan Pollard, is dangling that as a last-ditch enticement for going ahead with the release of the terrorists.

But no matter what else Abbas says or does now, he has made it clear that he won’t negotiate on any basis that would make it worthwhile for Israel. Netanyahu has made it clear that Israel won’t sign on to a bad agreement – even if she sits down to discuss one. It’s the U.S. that would be the chump at the other end of this, having carried Abbas’s water without getting anything in return. Indeed, if we did release Pollard, that action would look as pointless and weak-handed as any gratuitous concession ever has. Regardless of whether we hold the card for a righteous reason, dealing it away for nothing just looks desperate and witless.

Unfortunately, even pretending to play it looks that way too. The rest of the world, outside of the haunts of Western liberalism, has many flaws and drawbacks, but it has one big advantage over the West right now. Its leaders don’t operate in a geopolitical echo chamber. Weakness is what it looks like, for the rest of the world, and the Oslo-based peace process is collateral damage in the collapse of the Pax Americana.

J.E. Dyer’s articles have appeared at Hot Air, Commentary’s “contentions,Patheos, The Daily Caller, The Jewish Press, and The Weekly Standard online. She also writes for the new blog Liberty Unyielding.

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14 thoughts on “Team Obama’s obsession: A “peace process” that’s past its shelf life”

  1. It’s time to just say it. Barack Hussein Obama is as much an enemy of Israel, as is Abbas.

    The obsession of Barack Obama and John Kerry with forcing along a discredited and unproductive “peace process” involving the Palestinian Arabs and Israel ISN’T weird or even creepy… it’s intentional.

    The unspoken subtext of Obama’s message to Israel is commit suicide…or else. Count on it, when Abbas finally, permanently, walks away from the ‘negotiating’ table after concluding that Netanyahu will not commit Israel to suicide, regardless of the pressure Obama exerts…Obama will blame Israel and seek to cut aid to Israel. We all know its coming.

    What has Obama to lose? This is a man whose new ‘budget’ seeks to Kill the Tomahawk and Hellfire Missile Programs. Arguably, one of the cornerstones of U.S. Naval power. Both will be eliminated under Obama’s budget and with no planned replacement.

    It’s past time to just say it. Obama seeks not just Israel’s destruction but America’s as well. The gutting of America’s military is too comprehensive to be accidental.

  2. This was spot on again, Ms. Dyer, and much needed. All the swirls of controversy around the vain obsession of solving the Israeli-Palestinian issues, spring from the now 70 year-old desire to avoid calling out the Palestinians and their Arab exhorters for starting and maintaining a war against the Jews, not just in Israel, but everywhere. There has been no comeuppance for the Palestinian participation with the Axis powers during World War II (though their leader was convicted of war crimes at Nuremburg), no check on the Arab desire for a mulligan from each of the wars waged against the Jews between 1948 and today, no remonstrating the toxicity of Palestinian society that is being pandered to by Europeans and this particular President, nor halt on the machinations of regimes near and far to destroy Israel. This is far beyond the point of the little boy pointing out that the emperor has no clothes. The right Aesopian tone for what we’re observing and the moral to be drawn is beggared by the steadfastness of this administration in trying to coerce a PR view for the President’s benefit of the world-according-to-Obama upon the American people.

    Last night I read another essayist’s work whom I’m also wont to read: It was extremely sad, because, between the lines, his message seemed to me that we are betraying our values by pretending that Iran can be made to have a deal to forego its nuclear ambitions, or that the Islamists under the Muslim Brotherhood are more acceptable than al-Qaeda, that Israel can carve itself up further to induce peace among Palestinians, that Pakistan can be counted on to deliver terrorists, that Syria will lay down its chemical weapons, that Erdogan is a trustworthy, democratic ally of the US, that our sacrifices in Iraq and Afghanistan were not for naught, that the Egyptian military is less trustworthy than the Muslim Brotherhood…, that all of this is part of some enlightened foreign policy farsightedness instead of the most crude downgrading of ourselves as a people.

    The perfect metaphor of our foreign policy is how the IRS investigation goes: All effort is expended to deny the charges, turn back the curious by passing supervision to Democratic cronies and to have the DOJ in the pocket of a contemptuous AG who will spare no effort to shield the President from the possibility of impeachment. In the place of a docile AG, we have neutered our Armed Services and allowed every world calamity to rush toward the bottom where the worst tyrants and opportunists will have the advantage in experience.

    If half the effort expended in policing our President’s reputation were brought to bear on the problems in our country and the world, there would be half a chance to get through the coming swell in good order. It’s not going to go well with this crew.

    Everyone will pay the price for having elected the worst President in our nation’s history. Sadness will have to be forged to action soon.

    Had to get that off my chest!!

    Thanks for your articles, Ms. Dyer.

  3. OptiCon, Geoffrey and Keefe: excellent posts, all!

    Barry’s mike, when he had that desperate phone call in NYC with the Iranian President after the UN meeting, wasn’t “live.” If it was, we would have heard: “Tell the Mullahs that I’ll have more flexibility to trash Israel after I dump the Tomahawk and Hellfire missiles.”

    The man is a traitor, pure and simple. The only interesting question is: whose mole is he? My money is that he’s Iran’s mole. But Barry’s a devious one: he could be China’s boy.

  4. The Israeli-Palestinian “peace process” is the world’s longest running charade. Even as the Arabs troop back and forth to work through Israeli check points, their phony leaders maintain their role with typical tough talk and the odd Kassam missile launch. One of the true glories of the nation-state is the near universal agreement that efforts to dispatch the opposition tyrant are off the table. Far better to incinerate innocent and ignorant 18 year olds with a minimum of training than slide a cruise missile into a palace. The great current exception, Khadaffi, must have really irritated somebody in order to become a NATO bombing target. Then again, he really wasn’t the leader of anything by that time.

    Nevertheless, fellows like Abbas have much more to fear from the fringe members of their own retinue than they do from foreigners.

    1. Efforts to dispatch the opposition tyrant are off the table because it’s an act of war. It forces a nation to fully go to war. The leader of a nation is NOT equivalent to an 18 year old soldier(s).

      1. So what? Are you saying the death of a gangster-head of state would, in itself, mobilize the cannon fodder of a country when supposedly, according to democratic theorists, they live in fear, hatred and resentment of him?

        1. Don’t be obtuse. That unwritten rule that, “the nation-state is the near universal agreement that efforts to dispatch the opposition tyrant are off the table” applies to legitimate heads of state and major powers.

          A gangster-head of state, by definition does not legitimately hold their position but as a practical matter, the cannon fodder will do as they’re told if, after the assassination, power is seized quickly and firmly. Since an assassination of a gangster-head of state is generally of benefit to the successor, they have little to complain about. But if the assassination of a gangster-head of state fails… it may well precipitate a war. The risk outweighs the potential reward.

          1. Let’s just imagine that some powerful country, the US maybe, has a serious problem with a foreign despot, how about Fidel Castro or perhaps the evil Bashar Assad? If somebody sticks an ice pick between a couple of Fidel’s ribs then Cuba is going to go to war with the US? It is to laugh. But if the Yanks have a beef with the Syrian big sheik, it’s better to bomb the roofs off the homes of the proles rather than the sheik’s palace? Oh, yeah, that’s right, we dropped thermonuclear weapons on Japanese girls on their way to school after incinerating pretty much the whole country. That taught that darn Emperor a lesson.

  5. Off topic. Putin is now massing around 100k troops at the Ukrainian border. It now looks like he has invasion of eastern Ukraine in mind. If he does invade, the pretense that Putin will in time, ‘come to his senses’ or that he’s just seeking to protect his naval base at Sevastopol will become untenable. it will also place a whole new level of political pressure upon Obama.

    1. You meant to say reunify the rest of southwestern Russia instead of invade eastern Ukraine of course 🙂

    2. An indicator of a pending deescalation and hint at a deal on Ukraine, or maskirovka?

      Sounds more like the former. But, will the West deliver by making the necessary concessions and agree to Russia having a big say in Ukraine’s future? Or, will it milk the current political advantage it has achieved through its installed puppet regime in Kiev for all it can first – at the risk of provoking a Russian military intervention?

  6. Off topic, but someone’s got to keep the comments rolling..

    Battle for Aleppo near conclusion. Expect the fireworks to start in southeastern Turkey sometime afterward.

    Soon, there a going to be a lot of newly-unemployed, angry Sunni Muslim lunatics, looking to avenge their perceived betrayal.

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