Monday :: Dec 29, 2008

The Israelis Read The Calendar


by Deacon Blues

The Bush administration will be leaving the incoming Obama administration with the largest pile of doo-doo left to a new president in our history. A failed war on terror whose chief perpetrator still runs free in the mountains of Waziristan over seven years after 9/11 is just one large piece of unfinished business facing Team Obama. A collapsing economy is another. And now we are all reminded that Bush and his A-list foreign policy team have accomplished nothing in eight years towards stabilizing the Middle East.

There should be no mystery why the Israeli government is lunging for a misguided all-in attack against Hamas in Gaza in the last month of this administration. Olmert is about to leave office as the most unpopular prime minister ever, and his party faces an uphill election in February. Likud needed a game changer for the election, and blowing up enemies is a default position for them, just as terror threats are for Cheney.

To be sure Hamas has repeatedly violated the Egyptian-brokered cease fire from June. However, Hamas got no benefits from Israel for the cease fire, and decided there was no downside to drastically escalating the attacks when the cease fire expired, especially since Olmert could be counted on to retaliate in force. Predictably, with the Israeli elections coming, the Olmert war machine looked at the American political calendar and thought stupidly it could go beyond neutralizing the attacks to "finish" Hamas in a month before Team Obama arrives. Sure, it's stupid, but this is the same Olmert government that bungled its way into Lebanon several years back, only to make Hezbollah even stronger. And as Hamas anticipated, Olmert shows signs of going overboard once again, safe in the knowledge that a totally disproportional response that has killed well over 300 Gaza residents, at least a fifth of them women and children, will yield no reprimands from this administration.

Cynics will argue that a foreign policy team lead by Biden, Hillary, and Bob Gates will be no different, and will be more of the same. Wrong.

Bob Gates was a signatory of the Baker/Hamilton Iraq Study Group report, which argued strongly for the United States to step back into a position of leadership in bringing together a regional solution. Unlike Dick Cheney, Joe Biden isn't aroused when Israelis bomb the shit out of Palestinian women and children under U. S. cover. And despite what you think about Hillary, she won't let the Israelis set fire to the region either.

Olmert is doing what he's doing now because he knows the American hall pass is about to be revoked, and because of domestic politics. And Team Obama will have to clean up another mess the vaunted Bush/Cheney foreign policy team leaves behind.

Deacon Blues :: 8:12 PM :: Comments (9) :: Digg It!