Friday, March 04, 2011

Presidential Power of Middle East Politics: Roger Cohen's March 3, 2011 editorial "Go to Jerusalem, Mr. President"(link below) advocates for President Obama to make a trip to Jerusalem to calm Israeli fears amid the present upheaval in the Middle East so that Israelis will be assured that the US will remain Israel's most important ally.

I do not envy those in positions of Israeli power nor do I envy our president's decisions that he will have to make about the latest intractable Middle East morph. It is unsettling, to say the least, when nothing IS settled. Surely there must be some wise men in Israel and at our president's side to act as counsel. In the final analysis, it is his decision to make and it is he who will be held accountable as the buck stops at his desk and goes no farther.

Obama has played most things close to the vest. I believe he balances political prudence for the 2012 elections and his legacy with some idealism left over in some crevice of his senatorial and campaign 2008 DNA. I have found myself throwing up my hands when the president goes against what he said to those of us who elected him in 2008 but then retreating from my criticism when he does something I deem wonderful which he has many times. I have come to the conclusion after arduous reflection about my deflation of 2008 ebullience that this president is president of ALL the people not just his Democratic coveted base of which I am a member in good standing. In short, as president, he must be more careful, infinitely more discerning as to what he says, where he goes and for which policy he advocates. I live in Massachusetts BUT Massachusetts is NOT Indiana nor is it Tripoli or Tel Aviv. I cannot expect it to be.

The Middle East, that cauldron of bombastic never-ending upheaval and death, is VERY hard to predict. I suspect some Israeli and US policy makers are having late night Pepto Bismol moments while they have the darnedest time trying to craft effective Middle East policy while alienating few and at the same time saving the lives they were entrusted to protect. Would a visit to Israel allay some Jewish fears? Perhaps it would. Would it prompt other Arab militancy to retrieve their anti-Israel/US signs which have been, so far thankfully, absent? It's possible. Some say life is about risk. That is true when one is starting a corporation or going to the race track but when one is crafting Middle East policy it means the risk is life and death. Decisions in this neck of the woods must be made carefully, analytically and intelligently after much deliberation and at the same time with all deliberate speed. I think our president's proclivity for cool means that slow and steady is his rule and, I think or at least I hope, in the final analysis, where the Middle East is concerned it will win the race!

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