Back in Berkeley in front of a large monitor and a real keyboard. Hurrah! I am still hoping against hope that we aren’t just facing 3 years of lame duck flailing about, but one of the most reliable indicators of immanent executive impotence just flashed “red.” A Presidency is effectively “done” when the President announces he is going to work hard on the Israel/Palestinian peace process. Why?
- The peace process is a pure log-rolling exercise for everyone involved. That is why it’s called a Peace Process and not a “Peace Settlement.” It is an eternal process without any imagined (or even desired) end.
- Most of us have resorted to a similar tactic ourselves. It is that project you try to keep simmering away so that you can refuse unwelcome task requests at work.
– “Hey Steve. Could you get this report done ASAP?”
– “Gee. I would love to help out, but I am just up to my ears working on that Hudsucker Proposal…”
- For Presidents, the appeal of the Peace Process is exactly that they can look like they are working hard on something with confidence they will never actually have to achieve anything. It is the thing you keep in reserve for when you’d otherwise be too nakedly the impotent place-holder that is a lame duck president. See similar moves by George Bush II, Clinton, and George Bush I. Reagan had Alzheimer’s by the end so he gets a pass as he really was just an impotent place-holder – with a notable improvement in the policy outcomes IMHO.
- I had been waiting and watching for Obama to effect a similar Peace Process Pivot, but expecting it later in his term. It is not a good sign that it comes this early.
See quote below from today’s NY Times piece titled “For Obama, an Evolving Doctrine on Foreign Policy” http://tinyurl.com/kxf8fty“Now, after a remarkable month that began with his planning and then aborting a Tomahawk missile strike against the military facilities of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, Mr. Obama has recommitted himself, he told world leaders on Tuesday, to devoting the rest of his presidency to two high-risk diplomatic initiatives: finding a negotiated end to the Iran confrontation, and creating a separate state for the Palestinians that Israel can live with, without fear.“