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Truth to Power

2:42 PM, Jun 20, 2011 • By DANIEL HALPER
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Jackson Diehl raises a good point about President Obama's willingness to crack down on the Israelis, while playing nice with the Syrians:

One of the hallmarks of the Arab Spring has been the emergence of a new and more modest American foreign policy. The Obama administration has insisted on not taking the lead in promoting democratic change; it has declined to act unless not just the French and British but the Arab League go first. It still can’t bring itself to say that Bashar al-Assad, a dictator and implacable U.S. enemy who is using tanks and helicopter gunships to slaughter his people, is not qualified to lead Syria to democracy.

Yet there is one big exception: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. On a Middle Eastern front that has remained mostly quiet in 2011, the position of the United States is: a) it possesses a detailed solution; b) action must be taken immediately; and c) it doesn’t matter whether the people concerned — Israelis and Palestinians — are agreeable or ready.

There is, in his diplomacy, an implicit conviction that the United States must first of all deal with the sins of its own client. “Here are the facts we must all confront,” Obama declared in his speech to the AIPAC conference last month, before proceeding to deliver a lecture about Palestinian demography, Arab politics and the United Nations. It wasn’t that he was entirely wrong. But it’s revealing of this president that he is determined to speak truth to Binyamin Netanyahu — and not to Bashar al-Assad.

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