Observations on Obama’s trip to Israel: Feelings (Part 2)

What are the measures of merit with a feelings-based policy, again?

Part 1 is here.

The second observation relates to Obama’s statement with Netanyahu on his arrival in Israel.  A correspondent of mine pointed out the number of times Obama spoke of how Israelis “feel” about their security, as if the objective is to provide a feeling for Israelis on that head.  It is an interesting rhetorical choice in more ways than one; an obvious concern is that Obama posits a theoretical situation in which Israelis could be, objectively, secure, and yet not feel themselves to be so.

Constructing such a theoretical situation for argument’s sake has, of course, problematic implications.  Do we make policy to ensure Israel is actually secure, or is our policy oriented toward what will make Israelis feel secure?  Why is there an apparent premise that the two things may be different?  Statesmen normally Continue reading “Observations on Obama’s trip to Israel: Feelings (Part 2)”

Obama and Israel: Community-organizing the planet?

Organize this.

A correspondent of mine expressed some surprise when it was announced yesterday that the new secretary of state, John Kerry, would not be visiting Israel prior to the visit next month of President Obama.

What this means to foreign-service hands is that there won’t be a ministerial-level sit-down in advance of the president’s trip.  The army of foreign-service specialists who negotiate for the U.S. and Israel won’t come up with serious negotiating points (or at least statements of common objectives) on topics like talks with the Palestinian Arabs, or the Iranian nuclear threat.  The president’s itinerary and official events will no doubt be planned thoroughly, but there is a big hole where the normal process of policy preparation would be.

The prospect of Obama’s visit producing a tangible Middle East-policy outcome is thus nil.  Appearances now suggest that the trip will basically be Continue reading “Obama and Israel: Community-organizing the planet?”