The Biden factor: Iraq, Palestine– and Israel

Breaking news: late Wednesday evening in Cairo, Abu Mazen and his buddies at the Arab League decided there will be no ‘proximity talks’ between the PLO and Israel.
I’m kind of interested in the way Abu Mazen is getting Amr Moussa to front for him these days. It does indicate a serious lack of his own confidence in the depth of his support among Palestinians… But that matter is tangential to the main story here, which is–
The Amazingly Unsuccessful ‘Diplomatist’ Joe Biden!
Biden, lest we forget, is the man who in an interview with George Stephanopoulos last July, publicly gave Israel carte blanche to attack Iran whenever it wanted.
Biden was also, back in the pre-2003 day, one of Ahmed Chalabi’s main supporters in the U.S., and an enthusiastic backer of the idea of partitioning Iraq.
Since he became Vice-President, Biden has had a role “orchestrating” Washington’s Iraq policy on behalf of the president… Well, we’ve seen how that’s been going… To be fair, that is not as horrendously badly as it might have been going… But it hasn’t been going brilliantly, either– certainly not as brilliantly as most of the US MSM have been saying.
Biden has not done a particularly good job there, I think.
But he has really been bombing in Palestine.
Yes, of course we can and should lay the primary blame for what’s been happening in Jerusalem this past couple of days squarely on the Israeli government, the body that greeted Biden, on his first visit to Israel as vice-president, with not one but two announcements about the construction of new settler housing.
Notable that Yossi Sarid writes in Thursday’s Haaretz that,

    Don’t believe Benjamin Netanyahu for one moment when he says he “never knew” [about the 1,600 new settler housing units announced Tuesday.] The Jerusalem planning committee is only too aware of what the bosses want, and the government has decided to step up construction in greater Jerusalem. Dispossession and taking possession, kicking out and moving in – that’s what it’s all about.

Sarid also gave us these additional details about Biden’s time in Israel:

    This is one visit Joe Biden will not quickly forget. First he was compelled to sit through 25 minutes of an annoying speech in his honor by our president. Shimon Peres really believes that he is the destination for pilgrims from all over the world who drink in his musings and are intoxicated by his vision.
    Later, Biden was given a certificate memorializing his mother, but the glass broke. Once again, Bibi didn’t pay attention, leaned on it and shattered it. No fear, his speeches have always diverted attention from such mishaps. And finally, to add a finishing touch of infuriating disgrace, the Haredi neighborhood Ramat Shlomo was dumped on the vice-presidential head.
    Truth be told, the Obama administration just about asked for this slap. In Jerusalem, the lesson has been learned that the White House doesn’t fulfill its obligations – it just goes through the motions by issuing insincere rebukes.

Insincere rebukes, indeed.
Juan Cole and Pat Lang, two very seasoned analysts of Middle eastern dynamics, are just two of the people who say that, on hearing of the new settlement construction, Biden should simply have ordered up his plane and left Israel, rather than sitting there, going through the rest of the charade of the visit, while saying something on the record about how the Obama administration “condemns” the new construction.
I’m assuming Biden decided on this course of action after consultation with Washington. (He took 90 minutes to decide what to do.) Do he and his boss the Prez have no idea how disgusted most of the people in the world are with the fact that, though from time to time Washington might say something critical of Israel– meantime Washington never holds Israel to serious account, for anything, including “grave breaches of international humanitarian law” like implanting its settlers into occupied territories?
And the U.S. Congress continues to shovel money to Israel. U.S. diplomacy continues to get completely bent out of shape by defending Israel’s actions in every international forum, at every turn, and by zealously pursuing Israel-driven agendas throughout the entire Middle East, including with regard to Iraq and Iran.
And these actions by the administration and Congress put the lives of U.S. service-members deployed around the world, often in pursuit of Israel-driven agendas, in significant additional risk.
Regarding Biden, Pat Lang has this intriguing little vignette in his latest post:

    I was in Biden’s senate office on one occasion when Biden’s Zionism boiled over in a truly repulsive display of temper. I was there with my Arab employer to visit the senator… The Arab made some pro forma positive reference to the “peace process.” Biden flew into a rage, grew red in the face and shouted that this was an insincere lie and that his guest knew that it was only Arab stubbornness that prevented “little Israel’ from living in peace. His “guest” sat through this with what dignity he could manage. I would have walked out on him if I had been alone.

Assuming that the vignette’s true– and I tend to trust Lang on that– it reveals quite a few disturbing things about Biden. Not just the guy’s knee-jerk pro-Israelism, which is endemic just about everywhere in Congress, with a few notable exceptions. But also his evident lack of any diplomatic skills. I mean, why fly into a pro-Israeli rage like that if an Arab guest should happen to mention the “peace process”? What on earth good was he hoping to achieve by doing that? Nothing that I can think of– except to vent his own feelings.
… And meanwhile, George Mitchell, Mr. “Senior Peace Envoy”, has completely dropped off the map.
It is honestly not clear to me at all, right now, what it is that Obama and his people are hoping to achieve in the Arab-Israeli arena. Their entire “peace diplomacy” is in shambles. It’s as if Obama really doesn’t care any more about any of the lofty– but oh-so-important– goals he articulated back in the first days and weeks of his presidency. But he should realize that letting his “peace diplomacy” fall into disarray, as he has now done, is something that will have consequences far, far beyond Israel and Palestine. And quite possibly, more rapidly than anyone in Washington realizes.

6 thoughts on “The Biden factor: Iraq, Palestine– and Israel”

  1. Obama doesn’t give a damn. And Rahm Emanuel does.
    To Obama the issue is simply a suitable opportunity for the second rate oratory which is his stock in trade.
    One suspects that he daren’t attempt to understand the history of these disputes because he knows enough to realise that zionism is a series of lies joined together by ignorance: he doesn’t want to know.

  2. Helena, you are far too kind to Obama. I too was once an Obama fan, but I gave up on him months ago. He is smart and charming, and gives one hell of a speech, but in reality he is just another politician looking out for number one. Biden’s failures are Obama’s failures. He can’t make big decisions like how to react to the latest Israeli insult without getting his marching orders from Obama. As Bevin points out above, Obama doesn’t care and his closest aide, Rahm Emmanuel does. Rahm, we must remember never saw fit to wear the uniform of the US, but rushed over to don an IDF uniform.

  3. Jack,
    Bevin’s car didn’t start this morning. Third
    time this week. I think it’s the carburetor.
    BTW, could you e-mail me a picture of you in your
    uniform? Just send it to
    I think your posts here are great.

  4. Henry, I’ll be happy to send you a picture as soon as I can dig one out of storage. It was 45 years ago, and it was a US Navy uniform.

  5. 45 years ago! Wow! The picture will be so
    old and faded I’ll hardly be able to recognize
    you. Just be sure you don’t send me the wrong
    one. I don’t want to be hanging no picture
    of Rahm Emmanuel’s father on my wall.
    BTW, Bevin is now saying he might have to
    junk his car. This is really bad cause ya know
    Obama had to close down his clunker program,
    and now I don’t know what Bevin’s gonna do for a ride. You wouldn’t be able to pick him up would ya?

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