Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Hoping for an Obama win!

As Tuesday morning starts in the US, people in the US and throughout the world are eager to find out the results of this marathon US election, which we will know shortly. The polls suggest an Obama win, although one can never be too confident of the result. My gut feeling tells me its going to be a landslide to Obama - his run an effective campaign, had lots of cash and has been helped by an external event beyond his control, namely the economic crisis.

Voluminous articles and blogs have been devoted to Obama's views on Israel. The Republicans have repicked up on Obama's association with Rashid Khalidi, as if somehow, being friends with one of the most respected middle east scholars and one of the most genuinely moderate Palestinians is a bad thing.

Obama could go two ways with Israel were he to be president, namely:

1. The safe option - he puts the likes of Dennis Ross in the M/E portfolio in the State Department, and we go back to the Clinton approach to Israel/Palestine - that is active engagement with Israelis and Palestinians, without ever being too critical of Israel or force either Israelis or Palestinians into a corner. This approach has unfortunately failed and were a right wing Israeli government be elected in February, would prove fruitless approach for the US;

2. The riskier option ('the Judt option') - put the like of Dan Kurtzer in the M/E portfolio. Seek advice from past diplomats such as Brezezinski. This approach would see the US being far more confrontational and not afraid to offend Israeli sensibilities if it means progressing Israel/Palestine. It was a view expressed most eloquently by Tony Judt in a debate hosted a couple of years ago by the London Review of Books (hence the 'judt option'). This could be particularly the case, were a right wing Israel government be elected, which refuses to continue the secretive final status talks that have been going on for the past year and instead talk, as Netanyahu as been doing, of "economic peace" - whatever bullshit that means. In short, we would be returning to the days of Bush Senior and Shamir - and the loan guarantee controversy, when the US were not so afraid to confront Israel. In the case of a Livni government, the US could provide the support to push for a final status deal between the parties.

I for one, favour the latter option, and hope that the return of a left-wing government to the US may hope to spur Israelis voters to return Livni as PM - the only sensible choice. It has been shown as with Carter and Bush Snr that only assertive and honest behaviour by the US can be at least somewhat effective in influencing Israeli decision making for the better.

In reality, I expect Obama to take an approach somewhere between these two options.

Whatever the case, things will hopefully look different tonight US time - when the republicans are finally kicked out of the president's office and new blood and hopefully fresh ideas are incorporated into the office.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Im voting McCain. Too many extreme and dangerous friends around Obama scare me.

4:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

enough is enough re israel. america needs to worry about its boys and girls who are getting killed at war and coming home without jobs and without legs.. no retirement savings for baby boomers, lacking education in schools, senior who cannot fill prescriptions. america needs to take care of itself or it cannot take care of others at all. it no longer has the luxury of being the policeperson for the world. as individuals and as a whole we are not strong enough. Israel better start making friends.

5:38 AM  

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