Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Stephen Walt on the Presidential candidates' positions on Israel policy

Stephen Walt finds a silver lining in the bipartisan support in the Presidential campaign for hawkish Israeli policies (What 'unshakeable commitment' to Israel really means 07/30/2012):

The good news, such as it is, is that both Romney and Obama are probably lying. No matter how many times each of them talks about the "unshakeable commitment" to Israel, or even of their "love" for the country, they don't really mean it. They are simply pandering to domestic politics, which is something that all American politicians do on a host of different issues. Of course, they will still have to shape their policies with the [Israel] lobby's clout in mind (as Obama's humiliating retreat on the settlement issue demonstrates), but nobody should be under the illusion that they genuinely believe all the flattering stuff that they are forced to say.
Walt is one of the more prominent academic critics of the extremely deferential US policy toward Israeli governments:

There's also a tragic irony in all this. In his book Scars of War, Wounds of Peace, former Israeli foreign minister Shlomo Ben-Ami wrote that the two presidents who did the most to advance Arab-Israeli peace were Jimmy Carter and George H. W. Bush. Carter negotiated the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty, and Bush 41 led the 1991 Gulf War coalition and assembled the 1992 Madrid Peace Conference. According to Ben-Ami, Carter and Bush made progress on this difficult issue because each was willing "to confront Israel head one and overlook the sensibilities of her friends in America."

In other words, each was willing to do precisely what Romney is now telling you he won't.
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