Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Common Theme: Stomp on Obama’s Policies Because He Won’t Do Anything About It

By Barry Rubin

Note two developments of the last day which have a common theme. First, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton’s visit to Moscow failed to move the Russians regarding sanctions on Iran. A short while ago, the New York Times listed as one of President Barack Obama’s great achievements that he got Russia to consider—not agree but consider—higher sanctions on Iran. Now it is clear that Russia has no intention of supporting Obama’s efforts.

This comes after the U.S. unilateral concession not to build missile sites in the Czech Republic and Poland, an action taken without fully consulting these allies and on the anniversary of the Russian invasion of Poland.

A lot of the media quoted and the Obama Administration played up Putin saying that if engagement wouldn't work out then sanctions might be possible, but here's what he said immediately afterward in a speech in Beijing:

"There is no need to frighten the Iranians. We need to look for a compromise. If a compromise is not found, and the discussions end in a fiasco, then we will see."

Second, while nothing may come of it in the end, Fatah (which controls the Palestinian Authority, PA) signed a unity deal with Hamas after the United States publicly stated that it opposed such a step. This comes immediately after the PA’s reversal—against U.S. wishes—to try to get massive international sanctions against Israel for alleged—and phony—“war crimes.”

Will the Obama Administration react to these slaps? Because clearly knowing that you can cross the United States with no consequences is leading countries to step on U.S. interests and policies.
How many examples are needed to make the administration learn this lesson?

One final point. Regarding the debate on the Goldstone report discussion in the UN. Basically, what happened is that a radical, antisemitic terrorist group seized control of the Gaza Strip through violence (no international response); then attacked Israel through rockets, mortars, and cross-border raids (no international response); then broke a ceasefire and restarted the war (no international response).

Israel defended itself in the only way it could--especially given the lack of any international effort. Hamas used human shields, turned homes and mosques into firing positions, and put its military headquarters in a hospital. Then there was an international response: to send a commission many of whose members had already made up their minds to hear witnesses who were almost all Hamas supporters or at least people who sought Israel's destruction. Without donig any independent investigation of its own, the commission then condemned Israel for "war crimes."

This report has now gone to an international body which is chaired by Libya and where the largest voting bloc is led by Sudan, and whose Human Rights Committee is run largely by countries like Iran, Russia, and Algeria. The charge to demonize Israel and put sanctions against it is led by the Palestinian Authority, its supposed negotiating partner for peace and the victim of Hamas's murders and tortures which--by the way--is trying harder to make a deal with Hamas than with Israel.

Sanity check, anyone?

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