Friday, March 19, 2010

Russia Defies Obama Administration in Midst of Clinton's Visit; Clinton Defines U.S. Goals with Peace Process in a Way Sure to Fail

By Barry Rubin

Here's the headline: Secretary of State Hilary Clinton says in a BBC interview:

"I think we're going to see the resumption of the negotiation track and that means that it is paying off because that's our goal. Let's get the parties into a discussion, let's [get] the principle issues on the table and let's begin to explore ways that we can resolve the differences."

Let's consider this a moment. What happens if the Palestinian Authority (PA)--as I expect--refuses to return to indirect talks? By making such a statement, Clinton is once again setting up the administration for a fall, promising something it cannot fullfil.

She is making U.S. policy subject to PA whims, in a situation where the U.S. government refuses to pressure the PA and the PA will escalate its demands to a point which Israel can't meet and which the U.S. government can't deliver. The PA acts this way for three reasons: it wants more, it doesn't want to talk to Israel, and it seeks to deepen the U.S.-Israel conflict.

But Clinton's statement, and that of other U.S. officials, also makes clear also that the U.S. goal here is not some grand comprehensive settlement or plan but simply to get talks going so that the administration can claim a success. Yet repeatedly the administration is its own worst enemy, something it has in common with its predecessor.

Meanwhile, we can see that the world's biggest issue isn't an Israeli announcement, during a visit by Vice-President Joe Biden, that in a few years and after three more stages of government consideration it will build some apartments in Jerusalem?

Russia openly defies the Obama Administration by insisting it will finish a nuclear plant for Iran, just when Secretary of State Hilary Clinton is visiting! A real slap in the face.

China, even more angry about U.S. arms sales to Taiwan and congressional human rights criticism, continues to make clear it won't support sanctions on Iran.

Increased sanctions on Iran seem no closer today than they were on January 21, 2009, the administration's first full day in office.

Syria, emboldened by U.S. criticisms of Israel, now says it will never reach peace with this government, while Palestinian Authority officials openly encourage violence.

Everything I've been saying for more than a year is--unfortunately--coming to pass. The administration has not a single foreign policy success and American credibility is shot to Hell. Efforts to deny this situation become increasingly ridiculous. Yet there is no sign that the administration is waking up--despite Clinton's sporadic and limited efforts to get it back into reality mode.

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