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Thursday, December 8, 2016

The “Incredible” John Kerry: Ineffectiveness and Inconsistency

The “Incredible” John Kerry: Ineffectiveness and Inconsistency

It was painful to watch. Secretary of State John Kerry trying to explain and defend American foreign policy in the Middle East is such an uncomfortable sight. One almost wants to ask him to stop to save him from his own misery.
It was about three and a half years ago when Kerry, speaking before a congressional hearing, told lawmakers that the two-state solution had about 18 months left. This past week during the annual Saban Forum, a Brookings Institution dialogue between American and Israeli leaders, he told the audience that time was not yet up and, in fact, that time was “a function of belief.”
Kerry admitted that Washington’s relationship with Israel is unique in the world and that the United States gives Israel “more than 50 percent of the total that [the US gives] to the entire world.” Despite this fact, he continued, when the United States issues a “warning today when we see a new settlement announced. Nothing happens. It’s ignored, a new settlement goes up. New units, new sales.”
His interviewer, Jeffrey Goldberg, put the question to him bluntly:
“MR GOLDBERG: Why don’t you have any leverage with the Israeli Government? Why do you – what – you’re describing a situation in which you have zero leverage.
SECRETARY KERRY: I think we do – I think we do have leverage —
MR GOLDBERG: But they never listen to you.
SECRETARY KERRY: No, they don’t, and they haven’t listened on settlements, that’s correct – hasn’t been listened to on settlements.”
It is important to remember here that Mr. Kerry is Secretary of State of the United States of America, the single biggest economic and military power on earth. Israel, a small state of a few million people, is highly dependent on this power.
The fundamental problem in Kerry’s approach—and indeed in the approach of his predecessors when it comes to Middle East peace policy—is that such arguments for peace are made entirely through the lens of Israeli security. According to this line of thinking, Israel should make peace because that is how you secure Israel. But this puts the United States in a position of debating with Israeli leaders over who has a better understanding of Israel’s security interests. This is an argument that US policymakers are always going to lose; while Washington might believe in this approach, history has shown that when it comes to credibility, Israelis have sided with their own leaders.

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