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Netanyahu’s Gaza is Obama’s dismal foreign policy failure

As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu marshals troops toward Gaza, Barack Obama is making a grievous error by being seen as walking in step. Post-election optimism over direct talks with Iran will be shattered should Israel invade, and the Arab world will view the US president as full of empty promises. In one swipe, Netanyahu has made Gaza the litmus test of Obama’s statesmanship.

Netanyahu calls Obama’s bluff
by Melkulangara K. Bhadrakumar – Voltaire Network – 16 November, 2012

As tensions mount in the coming hours and days with the Israeli troops and tanks advancing toward Gaza menacingly, United States President Barack Obama begins to realize that he has a forked tongue.

Gaza becomes the litmus test of what he can claim to be as a statesman and what he cannot be in political reality.

For Obama, there is no running away from the reality that he has been hiding his head ostrich-like from the day he left Cairo in 2009 after making a magnificent speech there on the Palestinian problem.

The events of the past week in Gaza underscore that unless he musters the political courage – and integrity as a statesman – to address the Palestinian problem, all his talk of a transformative agenda for the Middle East remains sheer baloney.

Furthermore, his lop-sided priorities in the Middle East are getting exposure. In essence, he ends up being seen as cooking up tales about Syria and Iran and shying away from the one issue that can make all the difference for America’s discourse with the Muslim world.

The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has exposed Obama and is forcing a reset of their mutual equations even before the US president gets started on his second term in the White House.

Obama can always take shelter behind mellifluous rhetoric and has no adverse domestic public opinion to grapple with. Nor is he being called upon by his European allies to be accountable.
The spanner in the wheel

The paradox is that the crisis in Gaza had to erupt just when things were looking up for a possible US-Egyptian reset, including a joint enterprise by the two countries to give a decisive push for “regime change” in Syria.

A technical team from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has been in Cairo for the past fortnight to negotiate a US$4.8 billion loan that Egypt has sought to shore up finances. Even as the Israeli jets kept pounding Gaza relentlessly and Hamas beseeched Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi for help, the IMF announced on Wednesday, “The mission will remain in Cairo for a few more days to continue work and build on the good progress already made.”

The IMF usually expects that governments take actual measures as per an agreed economic reform plan before signing off on loans, but Morsi knows exceptions can always be made, and it is Washington who decides. …more

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