Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Eh, Bibi, Bibi, That's All Folks!

Pat Buchanan's latest comment on the endless pachinko game that is the Near East is a prediction that Bibi Netanyahu, front-running candidate for prime minister of Israel, will eventually lock horns with Barack Obama over Gaza. Of course, the first question that ought to be asked (but never is) is, why do we care what happens in Gaza, now or ever? But that would be to ignore our status as The Superpower, willing and able to exercise "moral leadership" wherever and whenever necessary, world-wide -- and, failing that, to kick ass world-wide. Now, Netanyahu, who is sort of the John McCain of Israel when it comes to foreign policy, has gained strength of late because of Israel's failure to "destroy or disarm" Hamas -- you know, those people who were voted into power in a democratic election by the residents of the Gaza Strip. Of course, talking about destroying Hamas without also destroying Gaza and all its residents is kind of like talking about destroying an inoperable tumor without killing the patient. And the weaker and more alienated Gaza becomes, the stronger (relatively, at least) Hamas becomes -- that's just the way these things work. Think "American liberals" vs. inner-city neighborhoods and you get the idea. Some organizations thrive on the happiness and prosperity of their members and supporters, and some thrive on the opposite.

In any case, Buchanan's argument is based on the fact that Obama "has called for a lifting of the Israeli blockade of Gaza to allow aid and commerce to flow freely." Well, is this really all that firm a stand? Is this really something that could create friction between the Obama administration and the next prime minister of Israel? I doubt it very much. What Buchanan is saying is that Obama is not yet -- at least publicly -- toeing the exact line, i.e. the Neocon one, vis-a-vis Israel. This, I suspect, is a mere oversight and a matter of semantics. If Obama ever comes out in favor of equal rights for the Palestinians, and backs it up diplomatically and foreign aid-wise, I'll eat my hat. This is just not going to happen. We have to murmer and tut-tut once in a while just to send the message that we are not totally in Israel's back pocket, but the world has long since seen through all that. Have we ever witheld one dollar of "aid" to Israel because they did something we claimed not to like? No. Have we ever adopted a neutral position, either in the U.N. or any other forum, regarding any Israeli military actions? No. Have we ever attempted to make a separate peace with any sworn enemy of Israel? No. The bottom line is that U.S. foreign policy and Israeli foreign policy are one and the same -- and the start of a new administration is not going to change that.

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