Obama Takes Down (the Wrong) Prime Minister

-

obama hatoyama crushed.jpgJapan Prime Minister and Democratic Party of Japan leader Yukio Hatoyama, whose amazing electoral victory last year unseating the long dominant Liberal Democratic Party, has announced that he is stepping down from his position for failing to deliver on a key campaign promise to the Japanese people about moving the US Marine Futenma Air Station off of Okinawa.
I will be arriving in Tokyo tomorrow (on Thursday) and will be in Naha, Okinawa this next Monday.
Hatoyama could not withstand the pressure from Obama — who gave Hatoyama the kind of icy treatment that the White House has also been trying to give Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The problem is Hatoyama wilted, and Netanyahu seems to be thriving.
I recently wrote a piece on the odd dynamic between President Obama and two different Prime Ministers — Netanyahu and Hatoyama — for the Kyodo News Service. It has already run in Japanese, but I post the entire English language version here:
Of Presidents & Prime Ministers in the Age of Obama
by Steve Clemons
Jan ken pon. Scissors cut paper. Paper covers Rock. Rock smashes scissors. There is an interesting drama playing out between several world leaders today that reminds of this game.
President Barack Obama seems to be smashing the political fortunes of Japan Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama. On the other hand, Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been rebuffing and constraining Obama. Obama and China’s Hu Jintao seem to be stalemated, playing jan ken pon over and over and over again.
“Defining challenges” for leaders and nations are those that represent the highest stakes wins and potential losses. The United States, for example, invested enormous blood and treasure in triggering change in Iraq and the broader Middle East and thus the Middle East today is a self-chosen defining challenge for the country. For Barack Obama, there were other defining challenges that he promised to stand by – including closing the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, “stopping” climate change, ending the war in Iraq, achieving Israel-Palestine peace and delivering the opportunity of universal health care coverage to American citizens.
Yukio Hatoyama also articulated his own defining challenges – including ending bureaucratic control of government and restoring genuine political leadership, opening up Japan’s official records of secret deals done with the U.S., enhancing the quality of life for average Japanese citizens, closing the Futenma Marine Corps Air Station in Okinawa, improving Japan’s position and sovereignty within the US-Japan Security Relationship andbuilding stronger relations with China among other challenges.
For Netanyahu, the defining challenge has been to simultaneously protect Israel’s security interests and expansion in the Occupied Territories while rallying support to thwart Iran’s nuclear pretensions. For Hu Jintao, it has been to incrementally increase China’s global economic and geostrategic position while maintaining high economic growth and not destabilizing the country or creating new costly burdens and responsibilities for China.
The interactions between these leaders show how power is deployed and measured, created and destroyed. Netanyahu and Hu Jintao have played their hands best. Obama has been beaten, constrained, but still has global leverage, and Yukio Hatoyama seems to be on the constantly losing end of jan ken pon.
While the United States and China have been testing each other from the earliest days of the Obama White House, with the relationship moving from global economic crisis-focused harmony to tensions recently over the Dalai Lama, Taiwan arms sales, and how to deal with Iran, fundamentally the US and China have moved into a de facto G2 arrangement that doesn’t necessarily mean that the US and China run the world but does mean that nearly every major global challenge requires consultation and policy coordination between these two global behemoths. China can veto America’s global efforts and the US can veto China’s. So far, there is general stalemate – jan ken pon, jan ken pon – as they sort out the realities of emerging Chinese power in an international system over which the US is not willing to forfeit control.
Obama and Hu Jintao are for the moment, tied – which historically speaking, represents a substantial moving up in the ranks for China and diminished power for the U.S.
When it comes to US-Israel relations, Barack Obama started out strong, appointed distinguished former US Senator and Northern Ireland peacemaker George Mitchell to go to work on achieving the same between Israelis and Palestinians, and indicated that Arab states would kick in some normalization-tilting gestures with Israel if Israel would cease all settlement expansion.
Obama’s equation for moving Middle East peace forward was just too quaint and simple. Even though Israel is completely dependent on American security guarantees and aid and is genuinely a client state of the United States, the pugnacious prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, flamboyantly rebuffed Obama’s call to stop settlements. Obama, with some twisting and modification of his position, has essentially forfeited the match to Netanyahu.
During the early part of the John F. Kennedy administration, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev beat Kennedy in similar challenges and began to doubt Kennedy’s resolve and strategic temperament – leading to the Cuban Missile Crisis. Today, Netanyahu has become the Khrushchev of the Obama administration – and one wonders if a crisis lies ahead in which Obama will have to reassert his primacy lest the world think that Israel runs the United States and the Obama presidency.
But while the Israeli Prime Minister is beating Obama, Obama is clearly smashing the legacy and political position of Japan Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama.
Hatoyama is conceding on a key campaign promise to move Futenma Marine Air Station off of the heavily US-base covered island of Okinawa. Now, some minor functions of Futenma will be transferred off island, but the bulk of the facility will simply be moved to another section of Okinawa.
Barack Obama put huge pressure on Hatoyama, asking him “Can I trust you?” He has maintained an icy posture towards Hatoyama, hardly communicating with him or agreeing to meetings – making the Prime Minister “lose face.” Contrasting this with the invitation to former Prime Minister Taro Aso to be the first official head of government to visit the White House and Secetary of State Hillary Clinton’s decision to make Tokyo her first foreign destination, one can see that while America seems unable to muster pressure to achieve a “win” with Israel, it is more than able to do so with the leader of a rich nation of 128 million people.
Hatoyama may survive this rebuke of the United States and this policy reversal that has made him appear weak and indecisive before Japan’s citizens, but Obama has been unfair in this standoff with Japan’s prime minister.
Obama himself promised to close Guantanamo Bay within one year of his presidency. This was a major commitment, and the administration failed to achieve it. But the US is not a parliamentary democracy where executive leadership can rise and fall over a single issue at any time. Presidents get a time period to stack up their wins and their losses so that when re-election comes around, they are measured on a combination of issues. But Hatoyama’s government could fall over just this issue – and Obama did little to help the new Prime Minister stack up some wins with the US and the international system before crushing him on Futenma.
Japan, despite all of its considerable strengths and what could have been exciting, visionary new leadership from Hatoyama and his Democratic Party colleagues, is still a vassal of the United States – whereas the United States appears more and more a vassal of Israel’s interest – and on China, we’ll just have to wait and see how history tilts.
– Steve Clemons directs the American Strategy Program at the New America Foundation and publishes the popular political blog, The Washington Note
Update: Just read this superb short piece by Nathan Gardels on Huffington Post on the tremors in the geostrategic order. Gardels succinctly refutes the notion that there “is no space” between the US and Israel on security issues by referencing the recent nuclear non-proliferation treaty resolution. He also illustrates how China is disavowing an unconditional relationship with North Korea. The world is in flux — fascinating.

Comments

45 comments on “Obama Takes Down (the Wrong) Prime Minister

  1. Fred Varcoe says:

    Steve,
    Your quote on Japan being a vassal state of the
    Empire is wonderful; so sad that it’s true.
    But as for Japan having no leverage over the U.S., I
    would have thought that the bases here would be the
    leverage. Even if they are unable to change the terms
    of the agreement soon, I would think that the
    Japanese authorities could make life very, very
    unpleasant for U.S. forces and their families in
    Japan. The citizens could do it, too, if they had the
    willpower; remember Greenham Common in the U.K.?

    Reply

  2. Sweetness says:

    Maybe Furkan should be buried next to Leon Klinghofer.

    Reply

  3. DonS says:

    “A U.S. citizen who lived in Turkey is among the nine people killed . . .”
    Interestingly, I found saw the story early tis morning at the Wall Street Journal:
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704025304575284081264400448.html?mod=WSJ_hpp_LEFTTopStories

    Reply

  4. Don Bacon says:

    A U.S. citizen who lived in Turkey is among the nine people killed when Israeli commandos stormed a Turkish aid ship heading for the Gaza Strip, officials said today.
    The victim was identified as Furkan Dogan, 19, a Turkish-American. A forensic report said he was shot at close range, with four bullets in his head and one in his chest, according to the Anatolian news agency.
    Dogan was a high school student studying social sciences in the town of Kayseri in central Turkey. He was born in the United States and moved to Turkey at the age of 2. He will be buried in his hometown tomorrow.

    Reply

  5. JohnH says:

    At 10 am, 2 hours after Fox reported it, Furkan Dogan, the American killed aboard the Mavi Marmara, still is nowhere to be found at Sulzberger’s New York Times. “All the news that’s fit to print” obviously doesn’t include stories damaging to Israel.

    Reply

  6. Don Bacon says:

    As the blockades and sanctions against Gaza and Iran come under scrutiny, let’s not forget Cuba. I’m sure that Steve isn’t.
    Sanctions only strengthen enemy governments while hurting their citizens.

    Reply

  7. JohnH says:

    American murdered by Israeli commandos.
    http://warincontext.org/2010/06/03/can-americans-be-murdered-by-the-israeli-government-with-impunity/
    But the usual suspects are keeping quiet about it to make sure Israel gets away with murder. But the arrival of the ship named the Rachel Corrie should boost the film by the same name and show Americans what Israel is all about.

    Reply

  8. Paul Norheim says:

    And here is another interesting take from The Independent (UK),
    echoing the topic in Steve’s update note to to this post:
    “Adrian Hamilton: Israel had few enough friends to start with
    Thursday, 3 June 2010
    Is Israel’s assault on the Gaza flotilla the moment which
    historians will look back on and see the point when
    international support for the nation began to change and the its
    government could no longer rely on the West to see it through
    right or wrong?
    There are plenty of people calling for such a change and even
    some who believe it might happen. As with North Korea, Burma
    and Zimbabwe, so the international community (however
    defined) demands that something be done, the UN meets in
    disapproval and there are outraged calls for sanctions against
    the offending state. And as with those states, the world, in
    frustration, demands that the country with greatest influence
    forces its ally to come back into line. In North Korea’s case, it is
    China which is supposed to lend its offices to bringing the
    rogue state to heel. In Israel’s case, it is the United States. And,
    as in those cases, the calls have resulted in precious little
    except a change in tone. Washington, which has been so keen
    that Beijing act in North Korea, is unwilling to do the same with
    Jerusalem.
    Partly for the same reason. The White House will get irritated
    with Israeli actions, finding them inconvenient to its broader
    international interest, as China does with North Korea. It will put
    pressure on Israel to show a bit more moderation in its
    behaviour. But in the end its commitment to the country is too
    great, its support within Washington too strong and the
    administration’s fear of instability in the region too great to
    change policy.
    It may seem excessive to lump Israel in with rogue states such
    as North Korea. But to the international community it poses the
    same problem. Its secretive nuclear arms policy makes it
    impossible to develop

    Reply

  9. Paul Norheim says:

    It should also be noted, in the context of the reports and analyses
    above, that Biden’s “What’s-the-big-deal-here” statement has
    been quoted in most of the major newspapers around the world.

    Reply

  10. Paul Norheim says:

    And here is an excerpt from Syed Saleem Shahzad’s report on
    the effects of the flotilla event in Pakistan and Afghanistan (also
    from Asia Times Online) – I urge you all to read this:
    “Israeli strike echoes in Pakistan
    By Syed Saleem Shahzad
    ISLAMABAD – Over the past few years the Palestinian issue,
    which has seen the rise of the fundamentalist Hamas in Gaza,
    has in many respects been downgraded from an international
    conflict into a complex local issue.
    Israel

    Reply

  11. Paul Norheim says:

    Barbara Slavin on Iran sanctions and the flotilla – from Asia
    Times Online:
    “Attack complicates new sanctions on Iran
    By Barbara Slavin
    WASHINGTON – Israel’s lethal confrontation with pro-Palestinian
    activists in the Mediterranean is complicating United States
    strategy toward Iran and undermining the likelihood of a solid
    sanctions victory at the United Nations.
    US officials sought on Tuesday to separate the two issues and
    said they are still actively pursuing a fourth round of punitive
    measures against Iran in the UN Security Council.
    (…)
    The US labored for months to gain Russian and Chinese backing
    for a resolution that would restrict Iranian arms imports,
    authorize inspection of Iranian cargo and make it harder for
    Iranian banks to open new branches abroad.
    Russia and China are among the five permanent members of the
    Security Council that have veto power. Passage of a resolution
    requires no veto, plus support from at least four other members
    of the 15-nation body.
    Turkey is unlikely to be among them. Brazil and Lebanon are
    also potential “no” votes. It is possible that other members such
    as Mexico will abstain. Three previous sanctions resolutions
    against Iran had much broader backing and no negative votes.
    (…)
    Burns said on Tuesday that the US was consulting with Russia
    and France and planned “at some point” to send a letter about
    the Turkish-Brazilian-Iranian plan to the head of the IAEA,
    Yukiya Amano. Burns suggested that the US felt no urgency to
    do so.
    (…)
    Still, the Turkish-Brazilian-Iranian deal has attracted support
    not only internationally, but also among US non-proliferation
    and Iran experts.
    Nine analysts including a man who once served in Burns’
    position – Thomas Pickering – issued a statement Tuesday
    urging the so-called “Iran Six” – the United States, China,
    Russia, France, Britain and Germany, which have coordinated
    policy on Iran – to “take advantage of this opportunity as the
    first step in a broader dialogue that could include further
    confidence building measures”.
    Trita Parsi, head of the National Iranian American Council and
    one of the signatories of the statement, warned that “there may
    not be many more opportunities” for the US and Iran to engage.
    “Obviously, nothing is perfect but the task here is to try to
    provide opportunities to sit down, talk and establish a more
    robust procedure for diplomacy,” he said. Talks, Parsi said,
    could also deal with regional issues such as Iraq and
    Afghanistan and with Iran’s poor record on human rights.
    With Israel’s attack on the aid convoy, however, Iran is now in
    the unusual position of being able to lecture Tel Aviv about
    rights abuses.
    “It’s a perfect storm,” Parsi said.”
    More here:
    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/LF03Ak01.html

    Reply

  12. Don Bacon says:

    news report:
    The UN vote on a new round of sanctions against Iran, which was scheduled for Thursday, will likely be postponed because of the IDF raid on the flotilla bound for Gaza Monday, Politico reported Wednesday. Sources in Washington said the Obama administration would delay the vote by three weeks, and attempt to carry it off at the end of June.
    New flotillas would increase the strain even more.
    Super. How can the US attack anti-Gaza sanctions while proposing new anti-Iran sanctions? The duplicity is delicious.
    The sanctions being promoted by Israel against both Gaza and Iran must be resisted. And they are.

    Reply

  13. Don Bacon says:

    America isn’t throwing anybody overboard by choice. The US has no choice, if it wants to retain any credibility at all, but to catch up with the world community or be left behind on the refuse pile with Israel. World public opinion rules, and isn’t that a victory for democracy. We should be thankful.
    So what country is more important, the US or Israel? In the final analysis, Israel has to accept whatever the US might do, if Obama has the moxie to do what he ought to do as an American. But does he.

    Reply

  14. Paul Norheim says:

    A scam? Not at all, Don!
    I have high hopes especially for our Hashbara Department,
    established with the explicit mission to “improve Mr Norheim’s
    image and reputation abroad.”
    I just sent them some material to work with – a recent quote from
    Nadine: “Because the number ONE cause of Paul Norheim and the
    other Euro-lefties is the safe, free and open delivery of Iranian
    long-range missiles to Hamas. This, he calls “common sense”.”
    In the near future, we’ll see how our Hashbara Department in
    Lagos will counter this.

    Reply

  15. nadine says:

    “”WASHINGTON

    Reply

  16. Don Bacon says:

    Or — this just occurred to me — this might be a scam.

    Reply

  17. Don Bacon says:

    I estimate 6,000 nautical miles from Lagos to Gaza, and at 20 knots that’s a couple of weeks. I’m afraid that would knock you out of the news cycle. We’ll be onto something else by then, I’m guessing, no?

    Reply

  18. Paul Norheim says:

    “Posted by rc, Jun 03 2010, 12:12AM – Link
    Paul Norheim, Jun 02 2010, 11:54PM — where do I send my
    donation?”
    ———————————-
    Hey, rc. Just transfer them to the recently established think tank
    The New Norheim Foundation (As the CEO of NNF, I have a 100%
    secure bank account in Nigeria), and I

    Reply

  19. JohnH says:

    The “Bloody Sunday” post was in response to Paul Norheim’s post–
    “Activists: We have funding for another larger Gaza flotilla
    ‘Freedom 2′ expected to set sail in coming weeks
    And then there will be an even larger Freedom 3.
    The link to the history of Bloody Sunday:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloody_Sunday_%281965%29#First_march

    Reply

  20. Don Bacon says:

    Call me pessimistic, but I suspect that “some senior officials”, soon to be ex-senior officials, are standing tall in front of Rahm Emanuel’s desk at this moment trying to explain why they leaked this to the NYT.
    And Steve’s in god-knows-where, out of the party circuit, and of no use in the matter. Bummer.

    Reply

  21. JohnH says:

    The analogy with the Bloody Sunday in Selma, AL continue. “The first march took place on March 7, 1965

    Reply

  22. Paul Norheim says:

    Well, it now looks like some senior officials understand what Mr
    Biden hasn’t understood yet. Here is en excerpt from a NYT
    article published 20 minutes ago:
    “WASHINGTON

    Reply

  23. rc says:

    Paul Norheim, Jun 02 2010, 11:54PM — where do I send my donation?

    Reply

  24. Don Bacon says:

    Sheeeet, petty cash would do it, big spender.

    Reply

  25. Caroll says:

    There may be a solution to the Israel problem.
    I just faxed Pelosi and Reid saying I represented a group of Americans interested in buying the US government back from the Jews for Israel. I stated we were very motivated to outbid the zionist for control of our country. The deal I offered to expedite the purchase was a lump sum payment for the WH and all dem members of congress, no bargaining with individual politicians would be necessary. We would accept their evaluation of the current market value of their collective votes and committee controls. All that is required is that they respond with their purchase price and we can close this deal within thirty days.

    Reply

  26. Paul Norheim says:

    “So what’s the big deal here?” – Joe Biden asks Charlie Rose,
    demonstrating that the Americans don’t get it.
    As I have argued in a comment on another thread below a
    couple of days ago, the flotilla action was a huge political
    success. I also suggested that we could see a repetition on a
    much larger scale some weeks or months later. And here is the
    latest from Haaretz:
    “Activists: We have funding for another larger Gaza flotilla
    ‘Freedom 2′ expected to set sail in coming weeks
    By Avi Issacharoff and Reuters
    The European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza announced on
    Wednesday that they received funding for three more ships to be
    part of a new Gaza-bound flotilla dubbed “Freedom 2″.
    Dr. Arafat Madi, the head of the group, based in Brussels, said
    that they are planning a new Gaza flotilla comprised of many
    more ships and pro-Palestinian activists than the first one.
    “Following the massacre done by the IDF forces in international
    waters, the world’s calls for another flotilla are even more
    pressing.”
    The new flotilla is expected to set sail in the coming weeks, and
    the head of the group didn’t discount the possibility of Turkey’s
    semi-official participation in funding or organizing.”
    http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/activists-
    we-have-funding-for-another-larger-gaza-flotilla-1.293748
    ——————————————
    Not only on a possibly much larger scale, but imagine the
    possible scenarios if these flotillas are partly funded, organized,
    and supported by several countries and organizations in
    addition to what we

    Reply

  27. drew says:

    I have very, very bad feelings about this situation. When a Nato
    member and historical, and stout, American ally chooses to render
    policy and provocation that we really cannot distinguish from that
    of Hezbollah and the Iranians, the world has changed more than we
    realize. Turkey wouldn’t have dared to do this with Jimmy Carter in
    office, let alone any other president since Truman. I don’t think all
    of those apologies are working out. I cannot figure out, as
    Petraeus said in the early days of Iraq 2, “how this ends”.

    Reply

  28. JohnH says:

    Guess that means that Israel will have to find a new, powerful protector to leach off of. Good luck!
    Now maybe more of my tax dollars can go to education and health care.

    Reply

  29. nadine says:

    The leader of the world’s only superpower has just announced that America is out of the superpower business. Obama is too busy whining about how tough his job is to defend America’s interests. Historians will argue whether incompetence, naivite, or deep-rooted anti-Americanism were the strongest factors causing Obama to pursue a policy of American weakness.
    Of course the “world is in flux”. Nature abhors a vacuum.

    Reply

  30. JohnH says:

    Steve’s update deals with a possible quid pro quo between China and the US over Israel and North Korea. What an apt analogy–two rogue nations with powerful protectors, both brandishing nuclear weapons, both extremely xenophobic, both outrageously concerned about their ethnic purity, and both extremely reckless.
    Bravo, Steve!

    Reply

  31. David says:

    Helena highlighted the key quote before I could. I do not think there is any way around “whereas the United States appears more and more a vassal of Israel’s interest.” Ultimately, the interests Israel is pursuing will prove beneficial to no one, not the United States, not Palestine, not the greater Middle East, and not Israel. This is a lose/lose trajectory. So are all the unwanted military bases around the world. Bush proved they can wind up being like a loaded gun in the hand of a child.

    Reply

  32. DonS says:

    Shorter Nadine: black is white.
    Shorter Wig Wag: whistling past the graveyard.

    Reply

  33. Helena says:

    What Steve said above, “Japan…. is still a vassal of the United States – whereas the United States appears more and more a vassal of Israel’s interest – and on China, we’ll just have to wait and see how history tilts.”
    Is this really how the US wants to behave in the world’s eyes, as owing allegiance and service to a feudal lord?
    My, how the mighty have fallen.

    Reply

  34. Mike says:

    Hatoyama fell due to his own incompetence. His handling of the American relationship was one of the issues. But more important was his handling of domestic stakeholders involved with the Okinawa decision. And it wasn’t just Okinawa, people were upset with Hatoyama on a number of other issues as well. The Okinawa bases are a minor issue for the majority of Japanese outside Okinawa.

    Reply

  35. Orwell says:

    http://tokyonotes.cocolog-nifty.com/blog/2010/06/japan-is-not-an.html
    Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama announced today he will risign from the post after eight months in coalition power.
    He declared in a live broadcast on NHK television, while addressing party members of both the upper and lower houses of the Diet.
    Eight months ago, Democratic Party of Japan won a sweeping victory, an outcome hailed by many as a revolutionary change might follow in Japan’s politics after the World War II, but it did not happen. Mr Hatoyama had drawn attention by pledging to end Japan

    Reply

  36. Don Bacon says:

    I hardly need to say that my nature is to be a contrarian. When any diarist like Steve Clemons writes something, my first reaction, right or wrong, is to think: What’s wrong with this? What can I say in opposition? Balance?
    This diary gives me no such opportunity.There is nothing to oppose. Nothing. Steve’s comments are exquisite — the feeling for oriental philosophy (jan ken pon), the understanding of two different regions (Japan and Israel). the empathy with two different personalities (Yukio Hatoyama and Benjamin Netanyahu), the bringing in of the big dog in the world (China), the understanding of the Obama strategy (too quaint and simple), etc,, all exquisite. A symphony of words.
    Exquisite.
    Steve Clemons has served on the advisory board to the Center for U.S.-Japan Relations at the RAND Corporation and has been the executive director of the Japan America Society of Southern California from 1987 to 1994. So he understands.
    Exquisite. I am in awe. Doesn’t mean that I will give up being my picky self, but on this piece I am in awe. Go Steve.

    Reply

  37. WigWag says:

    On August 30, 2009 (5:39 pm) Steve published an interesting post on the Hatoyama victory. Many were calling Hatoyama the “Japanese Obama.”
    Steve said,
    “Japan will now learn to be itself, to pursue its own interests in a more healthy manner than in the past. The United States will remain Japan’s key ally — but less key than before. Japan will support America globally but not in all matters. Japan will now become something new — and its democracy today is far more real than what it has had in decades.”
    Here’s the whole post,
    http://www.thewashingtonnote.com/archives/2009/08/democracy_20_hi/
    What a difference 10 months can make. Has Steve

    Reply

  38. YY says:

    Obama presidency is only going to succeed in changing things where there is momentum built up in the bureaucracies. National security, in the sense of reviewing scope and scale of overseas bases is probably not going to happen no matter what it is costing the US tax payer. In the case of bases in Japan it costs less as there is local funding as well. In absence of ability to change, DPJ still tried to make good the promise of review of what had already been the “best” solution to the very local Futenma problem, a move to a not ideal spot from point of view of ecology/nature but away from homes and schools. Unless the review were to encompass the level and scope of US military presence in Japan, which entails moving huge boulders uphill in the snow against the wind with greasy boots in both US and Japan, it was pretty much hopeless. Certainly not something achievable in the short run. Hence the mistake was not to make the pragmatic move of pushing the Henoko solution as already in process solution. Why they persisted is a mystery.
    As to the US, foreign policy wise, it is still incapable of getting its head around changes in Latin America (its own “backyard”) and numerous other examples where simple reality still defeats the policy makers in government. So to get things right on the other side of the world? Not a chance.

    Reply

  39. nadine says:

    Calvin, I do think Israel can do things wrong, but you probably would like most of the stuff I think Israel is wrong about. Certainly they mishandled taking the one ship, but given that letting the ship reach Gaza was not an option, and letting Israeli soldiers be beaten to death without resistance was not an option, their choices were limited.
    Wigwag has the polling data to back up her assertions about American support for Israel. Congress knows it very well, that’s WHY they are supportive.

    Reply

  40. Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle says:

    WigWag:
    Netanyahu doesn’t have tremendous support in America. He just has support of about 90& of Congress. Don’t conflate the two.

    Reply

  41. Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle says:

    nadine:
    You are only partially right. Obama does have a “kick me” sign on his back, but it’s his own doing. I love how you don’t think Israel can do anything wrong. You are like the person who has an alcoholic friend and can’t wait to go out and buy him/her more booze.

    Reply

  42. WigWag says:

    Steve is being entirely unfair to Obama.
    It’s not that Obama didn’t want to take Netanyahu down; in fact he tried. It’s just that he failed.
    Netanyahu and his positions have tremendous support in the United States. The Jewish Community is, as Peter Benart ruefully notes, not prepared to offer advice to Israelis or their government about how to protect themselves. Tens of millions of Zionist Christians support the Netanyahu approach far more enthusiastically than most American Jews do. Both houses of Congress are staunchly pro-Israel; and the Republicans in the House and Senate approve of Likud’s philosophy (thanks to take over of the party organized by Irving Kristol). Of course, the number of Republicans in the House and especially the Senate will increase dramatically in a few short months.
    Americans don’t believe in responding to attacks with proportional force, they believe in responding to attacks with disproportionate force; they believe in defeating their enemies not exchanging small arms fire with them. And Americans like it when Israel attacks its enemies because whatever elites may think, Americans consider Israel’s enemies to be their enemies too.
    In the wake of Israel’s war with Lebanon; Israeli popularity with Americans went up. In the wake of Israel’s war with Gaza; Israel’s popularity with Americans went up even more. Within one year of the end of the Gaza campaign, Israel was more popular with Americans that at any time in the history of polling.
    And the Palestinians were less popular than ever. According to Gallup, the popularity of the Palestinian Authority hovered around ten percent; not much higher than the popularity of Iran. Does Steve care to guess how the popularity of Hamas would have fared has Gallup asked about that organization.
    Within a month or two of the flotilla incident, we will undoubtedly see that despite the overwrought reaction of some commentators, Israel’s popularity in the United States will increase still more.
    What exactly does Steve expect poor Obama to do? He’s a politician, not a dictator. He and his political party actually have to win elections if they want to keep governing. Given the fragile state of the Democratic Party in Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio, does Steve really think that Obama can win a war of words with Netanyahu? Given that Obama was spoon-fed on the ideology of Rashid Khalidi, Obama would surely continue the fight with Netanyahu that he started, if the thought he could win it; the problem isn’t that Obama isn’t trying hard enough, the problem is that Americans like what they perceive as Netanyahu’s strength. They like Obama when he’s strong too; that’s why the Obama policy on Afghanistan is the single most popular aspect of his foreign policy.
    When it comes to Netanyahu, Steve’s argument really isn’t with Obama it’s with the majority of Americans. He doesn

    Reply

  43. nadine says:

    The Khruschev analogy now firmly belongs to Erdogan, not to Bibi, who merely wished to retain sovereignty over his own capital city, not diminish American power. But Erdogan, ah, that’s different matter. Like Khrushchev, Erdogan took the measure of the kid he was facing and saw opportunity. I just heard that Obama called Erdogan to offer his condolences.
    Obama should have chewed Erdogan out for staging this provocation against America in order to help Hamas terrorists and their patron, Iran. If Obama were any kind of a leader, he would have taken steps to nip it in the bud before it got this far. Instead, he offers condolences.
    Condolences! You know how to translate that? “Please, sir, may I have another?” Obama now has a permanent “KICK ME” signed tattooed on his backside. The whole world can see it.
    Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

    Reply

Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *