Foreign policy is not for amateurs. Witness America’s current foreign policy, led, not just by one amateur, but by a band of amateurs.
Thomas Sowell makes the same point, but in a different context. He is asking: Who do you trust to know enough to manage the government and to make the right appointments to the Supreme Court:
If ever there was a time to choose a president with depth, rather than glitter or glibness, this is it.
Whatever the achievements of anyone in some other field, we cannot afford a novice in the complex world of politics and government at a time of grave dangers at home and internationally.
Foreign policy amateurs do not know enough to grasp the realities on the ground. So they create a fiction and ride it into the ground. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Obama administration’s management of the Middle East. The results are painfully clear to all who can see. They are even clear to those who can barely see.
Given the Obama-engineered rise of ISIS and the expanding influence of Iran in the region, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has moved off of the front pages. Behind the scenes the Obama administration and politically correct European governments have been trying to pressure Israel into bowing down to Islam. The result has been a new intifada, more terror tunnels in Gaza, and, perhaps most importantly, a significant political realignment in the region.
Bret Stephens has the story:
Over the weekend, U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power came to Jerusalem to preach the virtues of a two-state solution. Her case would be unarguable if the Palestinian state to be created alongside Israel were modeled on Costa Rica—democratic, demilitarized, developing, friendly to outsiders.
But the likelier model is Gaza, or Syria. Why should Israelis be expected to live next to that? How would that help actual living Palestinians, as opposed to the perpetual martyrs of left-wing imagination? And why doesn’t the U.S. insist that Palestinian leaders prove they are capable of decently governing a state before being granted one?
The Obama administration, remaining true to the influence of Rev. Jeremiah Wright, has consistently joined so-called European progressives in siding with the Palestinians. By the terms of its fiction, the Palestinians are the new international proletariat, a people of color oppressed by the forces of Western civilization, liberal democracy and free market capitalism. That would mean: oppressed by Israel.
Or, as Stephens says: “perpetual martyrs of left-wing imagination.”
Stephens believes that Obama is married to the fiction of he himself as the Savior who will rescue the world from… American hegemony. He has set it as his task to undermine American power and greatness, by kowtowing to Islamist tyrants and becoming a champion of the Palestinian cause.
In Stephens’ words:
Mr. Obama has been incapable of asking himself [questions about the reality of the situation in Gaza], lest a recognition of facts intrude on the narrative of a redemptive presidency. But a great power that cannot recognize the dilemmas of its allies soon becomes useless as an ally, and it becomes intolerable if it then turns its strategic ignorance into a moral sermon.
Obama has lost Iraq, has empowered the Iranians, has turned Libya into an anarchic terrorist state and has alienated all of our traditional allies in the region. Great job, Barack!
But, political leaders tend to adjust to changing realities, and a grand realignment is currently taking place in the Middle East. Stephens reports on it from Israel, so he presents only one angle, but the new alliances between Israel and the Arab Sunnis are certainly worth our attention.
Beyond that, Prime Minister Netanyahu—a man who bears the distinction of being the only national leader Obama has consistently treated with contempt—has begun to forge other strategic alliances around the world. The only exception being the pro-Palestinian European socialists.
As for what Stephens calls a “de facto Sunni-Jewish alliance,” or “a coalition of the disenchanted,” the evidence is clear:
On Sunday, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon publicly shook hands with former Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki al-Faisal at the Munich Security Conference. In January, Israeli cabinet member Yuval Steinitz made a trip to Abu Dhabi, where Israel is opening an office at a renewable-energy association. Turkey is patching up ties with Israel. In June, Jerusalem and Riyadh went public with the strategic talks between them. In March, Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi told the Washington Post that he speaks to Mr. Netanyahu “a lot.”
As for the rest of the world, Netanyahu has done what Obama said he would do: he has pivoted toward Asia.
In October, Israel hosted Indian President Pranab Mukherjee for a three-day state visit; New Delhi, once a paragon of the nonaligned movement that didn’t have diplomatic ties to Israel for four decades, is about to spend $3 billion on Israeli arms. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is personally close to Mr. Netanyahu, sees Israel as a model for economic reinvention. Chinese investment in Israel hit $2.7 billion last year, up from $70 million in 2010. In 2014, Israel’s exports to the Far East for the first time exceeded those to the U.S.
In Europe there are currently a few beacons of hope in the socialist darkness. Stephens believes, quite correctly, that European socialist governments have sided with the Palestinians in order to placate their large Muslim populations:
Then there is Europe—at least the part of it that is starting to grasp that it can’t purchase its security in the coin of Israeli insecurity. Greece’s left-wing Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras used to lead anti-Israel protests. But Greece needs Israeli gas, so he urges cooperation on terrorism and calls Jerusalem Israel’s “historic capital.” In the U.K., Prime Minister David Cameron’s government is moving to prevent local councils from passing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) measures against Israel.