The Right Wing Creed: Tactics Over Strategy, Tone Over Substance

GOP apostate David Frum writes:

There have been no shortage of anti-Israel UN General Assembly votes over the years, most famously the 1974 “Zionism is racism” vote. But those votes did not cause the US or the Europeans or other important players to change their policy to Israel. Why would one such vote more?  The point about September was always: it would be one more harassing non-event in a long history of harassing non-events – unless the US decided to treat it as something more.  So September was always a mind-game against the US. The vote would matter only if the US agreed that it mattered.  In his Thursday speech on the Middle East, President Obama decided to agree.

This is a pretty transparent way to throw mud at the president without engaging in discussion of the issues at hand.  Does anyone really think David Fum would have been indifferent to that UN resolution? That he wouldn’t have said anything had Obama’s UN delegation failed to veto this “non-event”? Of course not.

Netanyahu, like Frum’s old boss George W. Bush, is incapable of strategic thinking.  He knows only how to pander for right-wing votes.

Netanyahu knew, in the US, facing an irrational and rabid Republican Party, that he could get away with making up a fake controversy about the President of the United States, and get applause nonetheless.

The issue that Frum can’t address is that Netanyahu is deliberately picking a fight with the US for no strategic purpose whatsoever.

Israeli PM Ehud Olmert thought the pre-1967 borders should be the starting point for negotiations. So did Israeli PM Ehud Barak and US Pres. Bush Jr. Netanyahu & Clinton signed a joint statement recognizing that this was US policy a few years ago. Sharon adviser Dov Weisglass explained, “anyone here deluding himself . . . that the drawing of the new map will be based on any reference point other than the 1967 boundaries is simply disconnected from reality.”

If Frum cared about the long-term interests of the US or Israel, he would address issues. Were Barak, Olmert, Sharon, and Bush Jr. all wrong about the starting point for negotiations?  Should there be negotiations?  Is Netanyahu’s policy of “occupation today, occupation tomorrow, occupation forever” a strategically or morally sound vision?
But Frum, like Bush and Netanyahu, can’t engage in long-term thinking.

Instead, he devotes his efforts to finding new rhetorical ways to sneer at the president.
George Bush made American decline– an unthinkable prospect in 2000– a possibility.  This week, Netanyahu is making a rupture in US support for Israel– unthinkable until this week– a possibility. David Frum is there to cheerlead for both.

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8 Responses to The Right Wing Creed: Tactics Over Strategy, Tone Over Substance

  1. Sean Hazlett says:

    The problem is not necessarily the starting point for negotiations, but the call for Israeli to withdraw its forces while at the same time not demand Hamas recognize that country’s existence.

    But that aside, do you really think that Israel and Palestine will reach any agreement after both Clinton and Bush failed to broker anything of use?

    I also strongly disagree with the timing of these talks. I also disagree with your contention that Netanyahu is incapable of strategic thinking. In fact, I would make the same claim about President Obama. For instance, after complaining about two wars, he adds a third that has absolutely nothing to do with US interests. But I digress.

    With things in flux in both Egypt and Syria, now is the last time Israel should make any agreement. Should they cede territory to the Palestinians now, the regional strategic calculus will be very different 6 months and even a year from now.

    With a reduced U.S. presence in Iraq, the Iranians will have a freer hand to wreak mischief in the Levant at a time when Hizbullah is ascendant in Lebanon. Then there is continued political uncertainty in Egypt and instability in Syria. To come to the table now is lunacy for the Israelis and makes no strategic sense whatsoever.

    I agree that the Israelis and Palestianians must come to the table at some point given the Palestinian demographic bomb, but now is the worst possible time from a strategic standpoint for the Israelis.

    • Advocating a framework for negotiations to begin does not mean that an agreement must be reached right away. Yes, things will be different in 6 months; no one expects a full agreement to have been reached in that time.

      “the call for Israeli to withdraw its forces while at the same time not demand Hamas recognize that country’s existence.”

      That is not an accurate characterization of US policy.

      In the speech, Pres. Obama said, “Palestinian leaders will not achieve peace or prosperity if Hamas insists on a path of terror and rejection. And Palestinians will never realize their independence by denying the right of Israel to exist.” And: “The full and phased withdrawal of Israeli military forces should be coordinated with the assumption of Palestinian security responsibility in a sovereign, non-militarized state. The duration of this transition period must be agreed, and the effectiveness of security arrangements must be demonstrated.”

      So there’s no call to withdraw while Hamas refuses to recognize the legitimacy of the the other side’s state. The terms of withdrawal as to be agreed, Obama said, and no agreement will come w/o Hamas recognizing Israel’s right to exist.

      (Incidentally, has Likud recognized that a Palestinian state has the right to exist?)

      As I said over at your place, I just can’t see how working to alienate the United States, for saying something they’ve been saying for a decade or more, makes any strategic sense whatsoever. Obama’s speech was, by necessity, a big sweeping vision thing, not an ultimatum to anyone. Israel has the ability to ignore US policies that it doesn’t like– eg, continuing to build settlements in occupied territory, even though it’s been US policy that Israel shouldn’t for decades. The US wasn’t sitting in ongoing negotiations, browbeating Netanyahu into doing things he felt Israel couldn’t do. It was a speech. Netanyahu’s misbehavior in response makes no sense, except from a psychological or domestic political standpoint.

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