Monday, May 23, 2011

Obama and the Iron Cage

By JOHN MEARSHEIMER, Counterpunch, May 23, 2011

Barack Obama gave a major speech on the Middle East last week and it is clear from the subsequent commentary that he impressed few people. The main reason is that he did not say much new or indicate that there would be any serious changes in US policy in the region. It was essentially more of the same with the some tweaking here and there. Nevertheless, he did manage to anger some people. For example, Israel’s hard-line supporters were outraged that he said, “Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps.” For them, the 1967 borders are “Auschwitz borders” and thus can never serve as a basis for negotiations.

Many Palestinians, on the other hand, did not like Obama’s assertion that it made little sense for them to go to the UN General Assembly this September and win recognition for a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders. Surely they also noticed that shortly after saying that “every state has the right to self-defense, and Israel must be able to defend itself,” the president said that the Palestinians would have to be content with “a sovereign non-militarized state,” which means that they will not be able to defend themselves against Israel or any other state for that matter. Hypocrisy appears to be wired into the DNA of American foreign-policy makers.

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