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Bearing Witness to Obama's Ineffective Diplomacy

2:40 PM, Nov 30, 2009 • By MICHAEL GOLDFARB
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Jeffrey Goldberg on the administration's Middle East diplomacy:

In fact, if the Obama Administration hadn't made such a hash of the peace process, the Palestinians would now be returning to the negotiating table, acknowledging that the Netanyahu settlement moratorium is, as Hillary Clinton said, unprecedented. But since the moratorium didn't meet the maximalist conditions set by the Administration, there's no possible way the Palestinians could have been seen demanding less of the Israelis than Obama did.

Goldberg's post is pegged to a statement from Obama that "reads almost as a kind of preemptive rationalization for violent Palestinian protest." For all the talk about President Obama's rhetorical gifts, he has an incredible propensity for putting his foot in his mouth, and Obama has shown little ability to extract concessions from our allies or enemies through his own personal diplomacy. He bowed to the Saudi King, but he got nothing in return. He sent a letter to Ayatollah Khamenei, and we all know how well those negotiations are going. Obama gave a speech in Cairo, but what does he have to show for it?

Where, exactly, are the fruits of the "direct, presidential diplomacy" that Obama campaigned on? And forgive me if I'm not wowed by the "concrete deliverables" of Obama's Asia trip, which include a Chinese promise to reduce their "carbon intensity," a metric no American voter understands and which has no bearing on Beijing's plans to increase emissions for decades to come, and Chinese support for an IAEA resolution condemning Iran, which is the paper equivalent of our summer exercise in "bearing witness" to the regime's brutality. This is diplomacy for the sake of diplomacy.