Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Questions Over Obama's Silence

There has been much dragging of feet over diplomatic efforts to end the conflict currently raging in the Middle East with the usual suspects either keeping silent while others pile the pressure on Israel to cease.
We got what we expected from George Bush, a complete exoneration for Israel's actions, but there is growing dismay over the silence coming from the President elect, Barack Obama, which seems unfair as he is unable to do anything until he takes over although his critics say that it didn't stop him making pronouncements about the economy or other aspects of his upcoming role.
The UK has played it's usual game and pathetically toadied along with the American view, Gordon Brown keeping his head down and the odious Tony Blair, when asked by a reporter why the Middle East envoy was not making any noises about what was going on in his area of influence, was told that "He's on holiday at the moment".
There is a limit to how many pictures of death and destruction even the most pro-Israeli Government can take before it grudgingly joins the calls for a ceasefire and after 10 days of bombardment and 550 Palestinian deaths, no amount of Israeli spin will now quieten the growing call for an end to the fighting.
Using the dying embers of his time as EU President, it is France's President Sarkozy who was the first to condemn Israel's actions and is doing the legwork to bring about a conclusion and earning himself a hatful of brownie points with those who considered him a rabid right winger, myself included.
It is Barack Obama, even before he gets the keys to the White House, who is beginning to be questioned about his credentials to change the diminished perception of America around the World. His silence, perceived as approval by many for what Israel is doing, greatly reduces his chance of making a fresh start in US relations with the Muslim world, the Middle East especially, and those who want to see an American President prepared to act with a more even hand on international affairs.
To those horrified by the television pictures of what Israel is doing in Gaza, Obama's reputation of a President about to reverse the divisive effects of his predecessor is diminishing with each new wave of Israeli attacks.
An unfair assessment perhaps as he has to balance ruling over a very much pro-Israel country with the opinion of the rest of the world that doesn't view Israel through such rose tinted spectacles but have very high expectations of him to be the polar opposite of George W Bush in moments like this.

4 comments:

The Intolerant One said...

President Sarkozy who was the first to condemn Israel's actions

Maybe you and I are reading conflicting news reports but as I have undrstood it, while Sarkozy has been calling for a truce, he has essentially layed the blame of the whole debacle at the feet of Hamas by stating they acted "irresponsibly and unpardonably."

Let's remember there was a 6 month truce that had just ended and it was Hamas, not Israel, that fired their rockets unprovoked. This has been recognised as the sad reality even by the EU.


I am not sure Obama's words, at this point, would carry any weight as he is not yet sworn in and you might have to consider that just because he is a Democrat does not mean he is not on side with Israel.

My opinion of Obama is that people read way too much into a man with not a lot of expeirence. I think people are in for a bit of a rude awakening including Obama himself.

Noah "Nog" M. said...

The whole thing is a mess.

The Israeli government should have known better than to choke the folks in the West Bank into desperation by blocking off supplies (although the Egyptian government is equally guilty in this wrong). Only a complete fool thinks a cornered animal will do something other than fight.
Driving the West Bank Arabs into misery will only strengthen Hamas and other crazies.

But then again, the Palestinians did mostly vote for Hamas. I don't have much right to complain if my neighbor arms himself after I talk about killing him with some thugs on my front lawn. What where they expecting?
The only logical response Israel could give to Hamas is war because Hamas is all about war on Israel. And neither should one complain if the Israeli government finds itself disinclined to allow Hamas-run charities to show the Palestinians how nice and orderly it is to kill Israelis by leaving Hamas-run police stations, universities, charities, or government ministries intact.
I don't have any tears for a man who's house was burned down by his neighbor after he fed, housed, and armed a known murderer.

Almost everything here can be condemned. Israel should stop, but Israel should not stop if they believe that stopping will strengthen Hamas or leave their homes open to unanswered rocket attacks.

-Nog

Cheezy said...

I don't agree that Obama, in the days and weeks before his inauguration, should be pronouncing on what his Middle Eastern policy is going to be. I can't see much advantage to him doing so, and there's plenty of downside.

There can only be one President at any one time (even if it's a rubbish one), and in the end, talk is cheap.

Having said that, after he takes office, I don't anticipate that the stance of an Obama administration towards Israel will be markedly different to what the Bush administration's has been... I think we've discussed the hold that Israel has over US foreign policy before... It's basically structural, and easily spans any GOP/Dem or conservative/liberal divide.

Lucy said...

TIO - We must be reading very different news reports becvause the played here show Sarkozy saying that "France condemned Israel’s disproportionate response" and that Israel must "Stop the violence in Gaza". I recommend you watch another news channel.
I posted here back in June and again in November about Israel continuing to kill Palestinians in Gaza during the six month truce which seemingly only one side observed just so i could point to them if this event occured. Consider me pointing towards them now.

Nog - What you have to remember is that after years of voting the PLO and Fatah into Government, decades later they continued to be downtrodden and caged in and starved and killed. Hamas was the alternative i guess with the decision that things couldn't get any worse so let them see what they can do. Not the best idea as it turned out but Fatah have bent over backwards to satisfy Israel in the West Bank and the settlements and killing continues there so who to vote for?

Cheezy - I can see why Obama is keeping quiet, he would be on a hiding to nothing whatever way he jumped over this but i do hope that he will be more evenhanded otherwise where is the change he promised?