Gaza: Obama va-t-il continuer à servir de bouclier aux barbares du Hamas à nos portes ? (After Iraq, Syria, Libya and Afghanistan, will Obama throw Israel to the wolves ?)

J’étais optimiste quand Obama a été élu président, parce que je pensais qu’il allait corriger certaines erreurs de Bush. Mais Obama est hypocrite. Il abandonne l’Irak aux loups. Tarek Aziz (05.08. 10)
The  friendships and the bonds of trust that I’ve been able to forge with a whole range of leaders is precisely, or is a big part of, what has allowed us to execute effective diplomacy. I think that if you ask them, Angela Merkel or Prime Minister Singh or President Lee or Prime Minister Erdogan or David Cameron would say, We have a lot of trust and confidence in the President. We believe what he says. We believe that he’ll follow through on his commitments. We think he’s paying attention to our concerns and our interests. And that’s part of the reason we’ve been able to forge these close working relationships and gotten a whole bunch of stuff done. Obama (Time, 19.01.12)
Notre démocratie est uniquement le train dans lequel nous montons jusqu’à ce que nous ayons atteint notre objectif. Les mosquées sont nos casernes, les minarets sont nos baïonnettes, les coupoles nos casques et les croyants nos soldats. Erdogan (1997)
La démocratie et ses fondements jusqu’à aujourd’hui peuvent être perçus à la fois comme une fin en soi ou un moyen. Selon nous la démocratie est seulement un moyen. Si vous voulez entrer dans n’importe quel système, l’élection est un moyen. La démocratie est comme un tramway, il va jusqu’où vous voulez aller, et là vous descendez. Erdogan
Dites-moi, quelle est la différence entre les opérations israéliennes et celles des nazis et d’Hitler. C’est du racisme, du fascisme. Ce qui est fait à Gaza revient à raviver l’esprit du mal et pervers d’Hitler. Erdogan
Ce n’est pas la première fois que nous sommes confrontés à une telle situation. Depuis 1948, tous les jours, tous les mois et surtout pendant le mois sacré du ramadan, nous assistons à une tentative de génocide systématique. Recep Tayyip Erdogan (premier ministre turc)
The president’s demeanor is worrying a lot of people. From the immigration crisis on the Mexican border to the Islamic State rising in Mesopotamia, Barack Obama seems totally detached from the world’s convulsions. When he does interrupt his endless rounds of golf, fundraising and photo ops, it’s for some affectless, mechanical, almost forced public statement.  Regarding Ukraine, his detachment — the rote, impassive voice — borders on dissociation. His U.N. ambassador, Samantha Power, delivers an impassioned denunciation of Russia. Obama cautions that we not “get out ahead of the facts,” as if the facts of this case — Vladimir Putin’s proxies shooting down a civilian airliner — are in doubt. (…) Obama’s passivity stems from an idea. When Obama says Putin has placed himself on the wrong side of history in Ukraine, he actually believes it. He disdains realpolitik because he believes that, in the end, such primitive 19th-century notions as conquest are self-defeating. History sees to their defeat. “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice,” said Obama in June 2009 (and many times since) regarding the Green Revolution in Iran. Ultimately, injustice and aggression don’t pay. The Soviets saw their 20th-century empire dissolve. More proximally, U.S. gains in Iraq and Afghanistan were, in time, liquidated. Ozymandias lies forever buried and forgotten in desert sands. Remember when, at the beginning of the Ukraine crisis, Obama tried to construct for Putin “an offramp” from Crimea? Absurd as this idea was, I think Obama was sincere. He actually imagined that he’d be saving Putin from himself, that Crimea could only redound against Russia in the long run. If you really believe this, then there is no need for forceful, potentially risky U.S. counteractions. Which explains everything since: Obama’s pinprick sanctions; his failure to rally a craven Europe; his refusal to supply Ukraine with the weapons it has been begging for. A real U.S. president would give Kiev the weapons it needs, impose devastating sectoral sanctions on Moscow, reinstate our Central European missile-defense system and make a Reaganesque speech explaining why. Obama has done none of these things. Why should he? He’s on the right side of history. Of course, in the long run nothing lasts. But history is lived in the here and now. The Soviets had only 70 years, Hitler a mere 12. Yet it was enough to murder millions and rain ruin on entire continents. Bashar al-Assad, too, will one day go. But not before having killed at least 100,000 people. All domination must end. But after how much devastation? And if you leave it to the forces of history to repel aggression and redeem injustice, what’s the point of politics, of leadership, in the first place? The world is aflame and our leader is on the 14th green. The arc of history may indeed bend toward justice, Mr. President. But, as you say, the arc is long. The job of a leader is to shorten it, to intervene on behalf of “the fierce urgency of now.” Otherwise, why do we need a president? And why did you seek to become ours? Charles Krauthammer
It also reminds us of the tragedy of Obama’s diplomacy, that he really did have something to contribute to U.S. foreign policy and really intended to contribute it but botched it through a peculiar, Carteresque feckless arrogance. When he took office the U.S. was overextended abroad, militarily and in the American public’s willingness to expend blood and treasure trying to bail ungrateful foreigners out of self-inflicted messes. Like many voters, Obama believed a prudent reduction in commitments and ambitions would be healthy for his nation and the world. Humility is good in one’s personal life and has its place in diplomacy. For America to elect a black president willing to be frank about the nation’s shortcomings was a powerful vindication of an open society’s capacity for honest, constructive self-examination. But inability to tell humility from feebleness not only created short-term danger for America and the world, it risks discrediting the option he so passionately championed. In his remarkable Special Providence, Walter Russell Mead identifies four principal schools in American foreign policy. “Hamiltonians” concerned about world order and “Wilsonians” crusading to impose American ideals abroad are the two familiar ones, generally described as “realists” or “idealists” (and prone to squabble over whether idealism is realistic in the long run or vice versa). But Mead adds two others of enormous and often overlooked importance. One is “Jacksonians, »often ignorant and scornful of foreigners but robust supporters of American sovereignty and decisive action when their country is challenged or insulted. And while it might seem petty to resent insults, in foreign policy in particular willingness to tolerate serious insults signals weakness that invites challenges, to such an extent that insults themselves become challenges. Their tendency to swing between scorning the world and kicking its equator imparts a certain volatility to America’s foreign relations. But Jacksonians also give it great supple strength, because they support vigorous action without tolerating hyperactivity. That brings me to the final school, smallest and least influential but still significant and useful, Mead’s “Jeffersonians.” These are idealists, like the Wilsonians. But instead of seeking to impose America’s special virtues on the world, they fear constant engagement in ugly foreign entanglements will tarnish American ideals and undermine domestic liberty. They are present in both parties, on the Democratic “left” and among Republican libertarians. And Mead argues they are another underappreciated source of supple American strength because when the U.S. gets overextended, as under the Wilsonian George W. Bush, they stand ready with an analysis and prescription for retrenchment. Obama is a “Jeffersonian,” despite his drone strikes and excessive surveillance at home and abroad. But, like Carter before him, he seems to have abdicated rather than reduced America’s positive role abroad and, indeed, to doubt it can play one. Mistaking the resulting upheaval for “tranquility” tarnishes not just his presidency but the whole notion of prudent, cautious global engagement. There lies the tragedy of his diplomacy. John Robson
De l’Irak à l’Ukraine, de la Syrie à la Libye et à l’Afghanistan en passant par Gaza, les conflits sanglants se multiplient. «Le monde est devenu un foutoir», s’est même exclamée Madeleine Albright, ancienne secrétaire d’Etat de Bill Clinton qui utilise d’habitude un langage plus châtié. Cela n’a pas de sens de faire porter toute la responsabilité de ce «foutoir» à Barack Obama et à la diplomatie américaine. Pourtant, dans chacun des points chauds du globe –Irak, Ukraine, Syrie, Libye, Afghanistan et Gaza–, la Maison Blanche a commis de grossières erreurs: en se désengageant trop vite, en ne mesurant pas suffisamment les enjeux et les risques, en menaçant sans jamais agir et en étant incapable de se donner une stratégie. Barack Obama et les Etats-Unis sont ainsi devenus aujourd’hui presque transparents sur la scène internationale, incapables de forcer un cessez-le-feu à Gaza, de faire condamner la Russie de Vladimir Poutine après la destruction en vol d’un avion civil au-dessus de l’est de l’Ukraine ou d’empêcher l’effondrement de l’Irak, de l’Afghanistan, de la Syrie et de la Libye. La diplomatie américaine a perdu au fil des mois sa crédibilité et son autorité.Il faut dire que la politique étrangère américaine cumule les désastres. (…)  Le retrait de l’ensemble des troupes américaines d’Irak a débouché sur la partition de fait du pays. Sans les 15.000 soldats américains, que les généraux voulaient maintenir sur place, les Etats-Unis n’ont eu aucun moyen de soutenir l’armée irakienne et de l’empêcher de s’effondrer face aux djihadistes. La Maison Blanche a beau se justifier en expliquant que c’était sur l’insistance du Premier ministre irakien Nouri al-Maliki, c’était surtout Barack Obama qui ne voulait plus un seul soldat américain sur le sol irakien. L’erreur a encore été plus grande en Syrie. Obama a d’abord refusé de soutenir les rebelles modérés et prédisait alors la chute de Bachar el-Assad. Quand ce dernier a gazé à mort 1.400 civils, franchissant la ligne rouge fixée par Barack Obama, ce dernier a demandé l’autorisation au Congrès d’apporter une réponse militaire… et s’en est remis à Vladimir Poutine pour obtenir du dictateur syrien qu’il renonce à son arsenal chimique. Bachar el-Assad n’est pas tombé. Les rebelles démocrates ont été balayés. Le nombre de morts dépasse les 200.000 et les djihadistes qui mènent la lutte contre le dictateur ont les mêmes méthodes sanguinaires que lui. Il y a eu aussi l’épisode libyen. Sollicité par la France et le Royaume-Uni, Barack Obama a participé à l’intervention aérienne pour renverser Mouammar Khadafi. Mais il a refusé de soutenir le nouveau gouvernement libyen et d’entraîner son armée. En conséquence de quoi, la Libye sombre dans le chaos. La réponse américaine aux printemps arabes a été désastreuse. Quand des citoyens ordinaires sont descendus dans les rues pour réclamer la démocratie, les occidentaux, à commencer par les Etats-Unis, leur ont tourné le dos. «La réponse aurait dû être du même type que le plan Marshall après la Seconde Guerre mondiale…», explique Fred Hiatt toujours dans le Washington Post. Personne ne peut savoir si les Etats-Unis avaient eu un «grand» Président, si les occidentaux auraient pu soutenir activement les démocrates arabes, auraient pu empêcher l’Irak de s’effondrer, Bachar el-Assad de garder le pouvoir et auraient fait reculer Vladimir Poutine. Mais en manifestant une telle incompétence, indécision et même indifférence face aux affaires du monde, Barack Obama l’a indéniablement rendu bien plus dangereux au cours des cinq dernières années. Eric Leser
L’association qui regroupe les journalistes travaillant en Israël et dans les Territoires a accusé, dans un communiqué, le mouvement islamiste palestinien Hamas d’avoir recours à « des méthodes énergiques et peu orthodoxes » à l’encontre des envoyés spéciaux.  « On ne peut pas empêcher les médias internationaux de faire leur travail par la menace ou les pressions et priver leurs lecteurs, auditeurs et téléspectateurs d’une vision objective du terrain », poursuit le texte.  « A plusieurs reprises, des journalistes étrangers travaillant à Gaza ont été harcelés, menacés ou interrogés sur des reportages ou des informations dont ils avaient fait état dans leur média ou sur les réseaux sociaux », a dit l’association. (…) Les journalistes ayant été menacés répugnent à raconter publiquement leur expérience, par crainte des répercussions, a-t-elle dit. (…) L’association accuse aussi le Hamas de chercher à « filtrer » l’entrée des journalistes en réclamant des informations sur leur compte à leur média. Elle craint l’établissement d’une liste noire des journalistes dont le travail aurait déplu au Hamas. Plusieurs médias ont rapporté avoir reçu lundi une demande du Hamas réclamant les noms des journalistes se rendant à Gaza, leur média, leur pays de résidence, leurs coordonnées ainsi que le nom de leur traducteur, pour « faciliter et organiser » leur travail dans l’enclave palestinienne. AFP/L’Express
 Our strategy is also shaped by deeper understanding of al Qaeda’s goals, strategy, and tactics over the past decade. I’m not talking about al Qaeda’s grandiose vision of global domination through a violent Islamic caliphate. That vision is absurd, and we are not going to organize our counter-terrorism policies against a feckless delusion that is never going to happen. We are not going to elevate these thugs and their murderous aspirations into something larger than they are. John Brennen (conseiller pour le contre-terrrorisme, 30.06.11)
In strongly supporting a surge in Afghanistan, Hillary told the president that her opposition in Iraq had been political because she was facing him in the primary. She went on to say, ‘The Iraq surge worked.’ The president conceded vaguely that opposition to the surge had been political. To hear the two of them making these admissions, and in front of me, was as surprising as it was dismaying. Robert Gates
Great nations need organizing principles, and ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle. (…) I think Israel did what it had to do to respond to the rockets,” she told me. “Israel has a right to defend itself. The steps Hamas has taken to embed rockets and command-and-control facilities and tunnel entrances in civilian areas, this makes a response by Israel difficult. (…) [J]ust as we try to do in the United States and be as careful as possible in going after targets to avoid civilians. (…)  mistakes were made (…) We’ve made them. I don’t know a nation, no matter what its values are—and I think that democratic nations have demonstrably better values in a conflict position—that hasn’t made errors, but ultimately the responsibility rests with Hamas. (…)  it’s impossible to know what happens in the fog of war. Some reports say, maybe it wasn’t the exact UN school that was bombed, but it was the annex to the school next door where they were firing the rockets. And I do think oftentimes that the anguish you are privy to because of the coverage, and the women and the children and all the rest of that, makes it very difficult to sort through to get to the truth. There’s no doubt in my mind that Hamas initiated this conflict. … So the ultimate responsibility has to rest on Hamas and the decisions it made.(…) It is striking … that you have more than 170,000 people dead in Syria. … You have Russia massing battalions—Russia, that actually annexed and is occupying part of a UN member-state—and I fear that it will do even more to prevent the incremental success of the Ukrainian government to take back its own territory, other than Crimea. More than 1,000 people have been killed in Ukraine on both sides, not counting the [Malaysia Airlines] plane, and yet we do see this enormous international reaction against Israel, and Israel’s right to defend itself, and the way Israel has to defend itself. This reaction is uncalled for and unfair. You can’t ever discount anti-Semitism, especially with what’s going on in Europe today. There are more demonstrations against Israel by an exponential amount than there are against Russia seizing part of Ukraine and shooting down a civilian airliner. So there’s something else at work here than what you see on TV. (…) What you see is largely what Hamas invites and permits Western journalists to report on from Gaza. It’s the old PR problem that Israel has. Yes, there are substantive, deep levels of antagonism or anti-Semitism towards Israel, because it’s a powerful state, a really effective military. And Hamas paints itself as the defender of the rights of the Palestinians to have their own state. So the PR battle is one that is historically tilted against Israel. (…) If I were the prime minister of Israel, you’re damn right I would expect to have control over security, because even if I’m dealing with [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud] Abbas, who is 79 years old, and other members of Fatah, who are enjoying a better lifestyle and making money on all kinds of things, that does not protect Israel from the influx of Hamas or cross-border attacks from anywhere else. With Syria and Iraq, it is all one big threat. So Netanyahu could not do this in good conscience. (…) I would not put Hamas in the category of people we could work with. I don’t think that is realistic because its whole reason for being is resistance against Israel, destruction of Israel, and it is married to very nasty tactics and ideologies, including virulent anti-Semitism. I do not think they should be in any way treated as a legitimate interlocutor, especially because if you do that, it redounds to the disadvantage of the Palestinian Authority, which has a lot of problems, but historically has changed its charter, moved away from the kind of guerrilla resistance movement of previous decadesHillary Clinton
Les Qataris m’ont affirmé à maintes reprises que le Hamas est une organisation humanitaire. Nancy Pelosi (chef de file de la minorité au Congrès)
Whatever happened to the Hillary Clinton who was an early advocate of diplomatic engagement with Iran, and who praised Bashar Assad as a « reformer » and pointedly refused to call for his ouster six months into the uprising? Wasn’t she the most vocal and enthusiastic advocate for the reset with Russia? Didn’t she deliver White House messages to Benjamin Netanyahu by yelling at him? Didn’t she also once describe former Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak as a family friend? And didn’t she characterize her relationship with Mr. Obama—in that cloying « 60 Minutes » exit interview the two of them did with Steve Kroft —as « very warm, very close »? Where’s the love now? There are a few possible answers to that one. One is that the views she expressed in the interview are sincere and long-held and she was always a closet neoconservative; Commentary magazine is delivered to her mailbox in an unmarked brown envelope. Another is that Mrs. Clinton can read a poll: Americans now disapprove of the president’s handling of foreign policy by a 57% to 37% margin, and she belatedly needs to disavow the consequences of the policies she once advocated. A third is that she believes in whatever she says, at least at the time she’s saying it. She is a Clinton, after all. There’s something to all of these theories: The political opportunist always lacks the courage of his, or her, convictions. That’s not necessarily because there aren’t any convictions. It’s because the convictions are always subordinated to the needs of ambition and ingratiation. Then again, who cares who Mrs. Clinton really is? When the question needs to be asked, it means we already know, or should know, how to answer it. The truth about Mrs. Clinton isn’t what’s potentially at stake in the next election. It’s the truth about who we are. Are we prepared to believe anything? We tried that with Barack Obama, the man who promised to be whatever we wanted him to be. Mrs. Clinton’s self-reinvention as a hawk invites us to make the mistake twice. Bret Stephens
Il est indiscutable que le Président Obama a, consciemment ou non, servi de bouclier au Hamas. Ce n’est pas un conflit dans lequel les États-Unis doivent jouer le rôle de médiateurs ou même faire allusion à une équivalence morale. Ce conflit nous a été imposé par un groupe terroriste qui promeut la culture de la mort et du martyre, laquelle s’exprime dans le slogan souvent cité: « Les Juifs veulent la vie alors que nous voulons mourir en martyrs ». Nous avons affaire ici à une entité qui veut l’indépendance. C’est un conflit entre le bien et le mal. On se fût attendu à ce que notre allié impute la responsabilité de la mort des victimes aux marchands de mort du Hamas qui prennent pour cibles des citoyens israéliens et causent des victimes à leur propre peuple qu’ils utilisent comme boucliers humains en les exhibant avec joie devant le monde comme des victimes de la tyrannie israélienne. Au lieu de cela, le Président Obama a pris les devants en soutenant hypocritement notre droit à nous défendre, tout en nous reprochant de réagir de manière disproportionnée en ripostant contre la source des tirs de missiles, et les postes de commandement qui sont délibérément imbriqués dans les bâtiments de l’ONU, les écoles, les hôpitaux et les mosquées. Les scènes sanglantes de victimes palestiniennes, mises en relief par les médias mondiaux auraient dû être présentées dans le contexte de la responsabilité du Hamas qui a délibérément orchestré ce cauchemar. Au lieu de cela, le comportement du Président Obama a tout simplement encouragé le Hamas à poursuivre sa stratégie barbare, persuadé qu’il est que les États-Unis le sauveront des machoires de la défaite et le récompenseront de son engagement dans le terrorisme. Dans ce contexte, les éructations clairement synchronisées de la Maison Blanche, du Département d’État, et même du Pentagone, juste avant l’annonce du cessez-le-feu mort-né de 72 heures, condamnant Israël pour les victimes civiles, et ce compris le bombardement d’une école de l’UNRWA à Gaza, comme « indéfendables » et « totalement inacceptables », avaient clairement pour but d’obtenir le soutien du Qatar et de la Turquie. (…) Le choc public causé par la découverte des tunnels terroristes et celle de l’extension de la portée des missiles qui couvrent désormais tout le pays, a réalisé l’union du peuple d’une manière qui rappelle la Guerre des Six-Jours. (…) Bien que ce ne soit pas perceptible en raison de l’extraordinaire tsunami de l’antisémitisme mondial et de l’attitude des deux poids deux mesures, adoptée par les pays occidentaux, il y a un clair consensus sur le fait que cette guerre nous a été imposée, et une plus grande prise de conscience de la nature terroriste du Hamas et de son mépris de la vie humaine. Il y a aussi le revirement radical dans l’approche de l’Égypte, de l’Arabie Saoudite, de la Jordanie, de l’Autorité Palestinienne et de la majeure partie des membres de la Ligue arabe, qui ont avalisé la proposition égyptienne de cessez-le feu, et dont la peur et le mépris des fondamentalistes islamistes extrémistes dépassent de beaucoup leur traditionnelle haine d’Israël. Les Égyptiens et d’autres États arabes modérés affirment, que depuis son discours initial du Caire en 2009, le Président Obama est apparu comme un supporter des Frères musulmans, créateurs du Hamas, qu’ils considèrent à juste titre comme une organisation fondamentaliste terroriste. Ils considèrent l’atteinte causée aux propositions égyptiennes de cessez-le-feu et le recours au Qatar et à la Turquie, qui soutiennent les Frères Musulmans et le Hamas, comme un exemple de plus du fait que les États-Unis trahissent leurs alliés et font cause commune avec leurs ennemis. (…) Le résultat dépend, dans une large mesure, des États-Unis. S’ils récompensent le Hamas pour son agression en s’efforçant de faire « lever le blocus », ou s’ils lui versent des fonds sans démilitarisation, ce sera une trahison à notre égard. Les États-Unis auront détruit le peu de crédibilité mondiale qu’ils ont encore et seront considérés comme abandonnant leurs alliés de longue date pour flatter obséquieusement ceux qui soutiennent le terrorisme islamique fanatique. Les États-Unis soutiendront-ils la juste cause d’Israël contre le terrorisme génocidaire, ou seront-ils un bouclier de protection pour les barbares du Hamas qui sont à nos portes, frayant ainsi la voie à une future guerre beaucoup plus brutale dans un futur proche ? Isi Leibler

Attention: un bouclier humain peut en cacher un autre !

A l’heure où, victime de l’incroyable succès de sa stratégie de propagande morbide comme nous le rappelions dans notre dernier billet, le Hamas a réussi l’exploit de rallier une communauté internationale – Monde arabe, quoi qu’il en dise officiellement, compris ! -jusque là divisée à la demande israélienne de son propre désarmement …

Et  qu’avec son seul autre allié dans la région et aux côtés des  incontournables financiers du jihadisme mondial, l‘islamisme dit « modéré » prend tranquillement  le tramway de la démocratie  …

Pendant qu’après les abjections que l’on sait et à travers une timide et tardive déclaration, commencent à émerger les conditions dans lesquelles nos médias collaborent au cauchemar délibérément orchestré par le Hamas …

Et qu’en Irak même et avant demain  l’Afghanistan apparait  chaque jour un peu plus clairement la folie de l’Administration américaine actuelle d’abandon systématique des positions chèrement acquises …..

Devinez, comme le rappelle cette excellente tribune de l’éditorialiste du Jerusalem Post Isi Leibler traduite par notre ami Menahem Macina, qui entre deux parties de golf est en train de tout saboter ?

Et qui,  fidèle à lui-même et à son habitude de trahir ses alliés (Israël, Egypte) et soutenir ses ennemis (Qatar, Turquie, Iran), pourrait à nouveau jouer les boucliers humains …

Pour une organisation explicitement auto-revendiquée comme terroriste et génocidaire?

Obama va-t-il continuer à servir de bouclier aux barbares du Hamas qui sont à nos portes?
Isi Leibler
The Jerusalem post
12/08/2014
Texte original anglais “Will Obama keep shielding Hamas barbarians at our gates?”, sur le site du Jerusalem Post, 3 août 2014

[Bien qu’il date un peu et qu’entre temps les choses ont quelque peu changé sur le terrain, puisque un nouveau cessez-le-feu de 72 heures est entré en vigueur depuis 24 heures, j’ai cru intéressant de traduire les réflexions de cet éditorialiste engagé et passionné, qui croit à la réalité de l’incident révélant une brouille profonde entre Israël et l’Administration Obama. On n’est bien entendu pas obligé de partager sa vision pessimiste des choses, mais il faut l’entendre. Merci à Giora Hod de m’avoir signalé ce texte. (Menahem Macina).]
Si les États-Unis récompensent le Hamas en voulant faire cesser le blocus ou en les finançant sans démilitarisation, ce sera une trahison à notre égard.

Les États-Unis sont le plus important allié d’Israël. Ils nous ont fourni des armes, et voici juste une semaine [fin juillet], ils nous ont accordé un financement supplémentaire pour améliorer les performances du système de défense anti-missiles Iron Dome (dôme de fer). Ils ont également usé de leur influence politique pour faire échouer l’adoption de résolutions hostiles et de sanctions au niveau international.

Mais nous ne devons pas nous faire d’illusions. La relation américano-israélienne est sous grande tension. En dépit des déclarations sibyllines des gouvernements israélien et américain, niant la véracité des extraits d’une conversation téléphonique empoisonnée entre le Premier ministre Binyamin Netanyahu et le Président Barak Obama, le rédacteur en chef hautement respecté du département étranger de la chaîne de télévision Channel One, Oren Nahary, défend fermement son reportage ; il maintient que sa source – un haut fonctionnaire américain – est crédible, et que l’information ne provient pas du bureau du Premier ministre [israélien].

Le Président américain aurait réagi en disant que ce n’était pas à Netanyahu de dicter à l’Amérique quels pays devaient agir en tant que médiateurs. Quelques jours plus tard, Nancy Pelosi, chef de file de la minorité au Congrès, a accrédité cet échange en disant sur CNN que les États-Unis devraient coopérer avec les Qataris qui, dit-elle « m’ont affirmé à maintes reprises que le Hamas est une organisation humanitaire ». Il est ahurissant qu’un dirigeant démocratique du Congrès puisse qualifier d’« humanitaire » une organisation génocidaire ayant des objectifs similaires à ceux d’al-Qaïda, et dont la charte appelle explicitement à la destruction d’Israël et au meurtre des juifs.

Il y a eu également des échanges tendus entre le bureau du Premier ministre et le Secrétaire d’État américain John Kerry, désormais tristement célèbre pour ses commentaires inappropriés et ses déclarations contradictoires.

Les deux parties ont fait des efforts pour calmer la tempête. Les hauts fonctionnaires américains ont réaffirmé leur soutien à Israël et soutenu à nouveau son droit à se défendre. Avec quelque retard, le président Obama a emboîté le pas aux Européens et fait de la démilitarisation de la bande de Gaza une question qui devrait être négociée en liaison avec la levée du blocus après la cessation des hostilités.

Mais il est indiscutable que le Président Obama a, consciemment ou non, servi de bouclier au Hamas. Ce n’est pas un conflit dans lequel les États-Unis doivent jouer le rôle de médiateurs ou même faire allusion à une équivalence morale. Ce conflit nous a été imposé par un groupe terroriste qui promeut la culture de la mort et du martyre, laquelle s’exprime dans le slogan souvent cité: « Les Juifs veulent la vie alors que nous voulons mourir en martyrs ». Nous avons affaire ici à une entité qui veut l’indépendance. C’est un conflit entre le bien et le mal.

On se fût attendu à ce que notre allié impute la responsabilité de la mort des victimes aux marchands de mort du Hamas qui prennent pour cibles des citoyens israéliens et causent des victimes à leur propre peuple qu’ils utilisent comme boucliers humains en les exhibant avec joie devant le monde comme des victimes de la tyrannie israélienne.

Au lieu de cela, le Président Obama a pris les devants en soutenant hypocritement notre droit à nous défendre, tout en nous reprochant de réagir de manière disproportionnée en ripostant contre la source des tirs de missiles, et les postes de commandement qui sont délibérément imbriqués dans les bâtiments de l’ONU, les écoles, les hôpitaux et les mosquées. Les scènes sanglantes de victimes palestiniennes, mises en relief par les médias mondiaux auraient dû être présentées dans le contexte de la responsabilité du Hamas qui a délibérément orchestré ce cauchemar. Au lieu de cela, le comportement du Président Obama a tout simplement encouragé le Hamas à poursuivre sa stratégie barbare, persuadé qu’il est que les États-Unis le sauveront des machoires de la défaite et le récompenseront de son engagement dans le terrorisme.

Dans ce contexte, les éructations clairement synchronisées de la Maison Blanche, du Département d’État, et même du Pentagone, juste avant l’annonce du cessez-le-feu mort-né de 72 heures, condamnant Israël pour les victimes civiles, et ce compris le bombardement d’une école de l’UNRWA à Gaza, comme « indéfendables » et « totalement inacceptables », avaient clairement pour but d’obtenir le soutien du Qatar et de la Turquie.

Les États-Unis savent parfaitement quelles mesures extraordinaires, sans équivalent dans quelque conflit armé que ce soit, ont été prises par Israël pour réduire au minimum les pertes civiles. Mais des civils innocents meurent au cours d’une guerre – et a fortiori dans des circonstances où des femmes et des enfants sont utilisés comme boucliers humains et délibérément logés dans le voisinage immédiat de lanceurs de missiles et de postes de commandement. Quand les soldats israéliens sont pris sous le feu de terroristes, même si ces tirs proviennent d’écoles, ils doivent riposter, ou être tués. En outre, des accidents sont inévitables. Il sufit de se remémorer les milliers de civils français innocents tués par les Alliés durant l’invasion en 1944.

Pour prendre la mesure du deux poids deux mesures et de l’hypocrisie dont nous sommes victimes, les États-Unis devraient tenir compte des centaines de milliers de civils innocents tués par les forces de la coalition au cours de la guerre d’Irak et en Afghanistan, ainsi que le carnage causé en Serbie par les bombardements indiscriminés de civils par l’OTAN, à Belgrade, pour venir à bout de Milosevic.

La tragédie des victimes palestiniennes innocentes nous attriste tous. Mais il est révoltant de voir le président américain exprimer plus d’indignation pour la mort de 1 500 Palestiniens, dont une grande partie sont des terroristes sanguinaires, que pour les 180 000 Syriens massacrés dans la guerre civile en cours dans ce pays.

Il est absolument inacceptable de condamner un allié de longue date. Comment les États-Unis peuvent-ils justifier leur focalisation sur la perte de vies innocentes sans prendre en considération le contexte et en s’abstenant de jeter le blâme sur le Hamas qui exulte de massacrer tant les Israéliens que son propre peuple, dont il exploite ouvertement les souffrances pour discréditer Israël et détourner l’attention de ses activités terroristes? Cela rappelle l’expression sarcastique – souvent citée – de Golda Meïr, selon laquelle « la paix adviendra quand nos adversaires aimeront leurs enfants plus qu’ils nous haïssent ».

Israël doit rester ferme. Le choc public causé par la découverte des tunnels terroristes et celle de l’extension de la portée des missiles qui couvrent désormais tout le pays, a réalisé l’union du peuple d’une manière qui rappelle la Guerre des Six-Jours. Près de 90% de la population sont inébranlables sur ce point : Israel ne doit pas s’arrêter tant que Gaza ne sera pas démilitarisée et le Hamas complètement écrasé, malgré le terrible coût en vies humaines

Même le Parti d’opposition travailliste “colombe” attend cela de Netanyahu. Bien que ce ne soit pas perceptible en raison de l’extraordinaire tsunami de l’antisémitisme mondial et de l’attitude des deux poids deux mesures, adoptée par les pays occidentaux, il y a un clair consensus sur le fait que cette guerre nous a été imposée, et une plus grande prise de conscience de la nature terroriste du Hamas et de son mépris de la vie humaine.

Il y a aussi le revirement radical dans l’approche de l’Égypte, de l’Arabie Saoudite, de la Jordanie, de l’Autorité Palestinienne et de la majeure partie des membres de la Ligue arabe, qui ont avalisé la proposition égyptienne de cessez-le feu, et dont la peur et le mépris des fondamentalistes islamistes extrémistes dépassent de beaucoup leur traditionnelle haine d’Israël. Les Égyptiens et d’autres États arabes modérés affirment, que depuis son discours initial du Caire en 2009, le Président Obama est apparu comme un supporter des Frères musulmans, créateurs du Hamas, qu’ils considèrent à juste titre comme une organisation fondamentaliste terroriste.

Ils considèrent l’atteinte causée aux propositions égyptiennes de cessez-le-feu et le recours au Qatar et à la Turquie, qui soutiennent les Frères Musulmans et le Hamas, comme un exemple de plus du fait que les États-Unis trahissent leurs alliés et font cause commune avec leurs ennemis. La chose a trouvé son expression dans la proposition initiale de cessez-le-feu de Kerry, parrainée par le Qatar et la Turquie, mais rejetée à l’unanimité par le cabinet israélien, et qui aurait pu être rédigée par le Hamas.

À l’heure actuelle, Israël a largement atteint ses objectifs principaux qui étaient de détruire les tunnels et de neutraliser de manière significative les capacités de tirs de missiles. Mais le Hamas reste intact et, à moins qu’une démilitarisation ne soit imposée, nous devrons faire face à des djihadistes invétérés qui ne renonceront pas à leur objectif ouvertement exprimé de nous détruire ou tout au moins d’user notre moral par des attaques terroristes incessantes.

La responsabilité majeure de tout gouvernement est de protéger ses citoyens. C’est l’occasion pour Israël de rester ferme et de prendre toutes les mesures qui seront nécessaires pour affaiblir le Hamas et démilitariser Gaza. La responsabilité des dommages collatéraux causés aux civils innocents incombe exclusivement au Hamas.

L’insolente violation par le Hamas du cessez-le-feu de 72 heures a mené à une réaction temporaire mondiale à l’encontre du Hamas.

Après avoir neutralisé les tunnels que Tsahal a été en mesure de détecter, les forces terrestres ont été redéployées. Toutefois, Netanyahu a clairement dit que l’opération n’était pas terminée.

Le cabinet doit rapidement décider de l’une des deux options suivantes. Il peut étendre la campagne terrestre et conquérir Gaza, ce à quoi la majorité de la nation souscrira probablement en premier lieu, mais cela impliquerait probablement des pertes massives et donnerait lieu à une pression internationale qui pourrait nous contraindre à nous replier de manière unilatérale ou nous exposer à des sanctions. Il apparaît que sans exclure cette option, le Premier ministre Netanyahu – au moins à court terme – a l’intention de continuer à détruire les lance-missiles et à attaquer le Hamas par voie aérienne, limitant ainsi les pertes israéliennes et exerçant une plus grande influence sur la mise en oeuvre de la démilitarisation.

Le résultat dépend, dans une large mesure, des États-Unis. S’ils récompensent le Hamas pour son agression en s’efforçant de faire « lever le blocus », ou s’ils lui versent des fonds sans démilitarisation, ce sera une trahison à notre égard. Les États-Unis auront détruit le peu de crédibilité mondiale qu’ils ont encore et seront considérés comme abandonnant leurs alliés de longue date pour flatter obséquieusement ceux qui soutiennent le terrorisme islamique fanatique.

Les États-Unis soutiendront-ils la juste cause d’Israël contre le terrorisme génocidaire, ou seront-ils un bouclier de protection pour les barbares du Hamas qui sont à nos portes, frayant ainsi la voie à une future guerre beaucoup plus brutale dans un futur proche ?

Le site Internet de l’auteur peut être consulté at http://www.wordfromjerusalem.com. On peut le contacter à ileibler@leibler.com.

Voir aussi:

JÉRUSALEM
Gaza: une association de médias étrangers dénoncent les pratiques du Hamas
AFP/L’Express

11/08/2014

Jérusalem – L’Association de la presse étrangère en Israël et dans les Territoires palestiniens a accusé lundi le Hamas d’avoir « harcelé » et « menacé » des journalistes étrangers venus couvrir la guerre dans la bande de Gaza.

L’association qui regroupe les journalistes travaillant en Israël et dans les Territoires a accusé, dans un communiqué, le mouvement islamiste palestinien Hamas d’avoir recours à « des méthodes énergiques et peu orthodoxes » à l’encontre des envoyés spéciaux.

« On ne peut pas empêcher les médias internationaux de faire leur travail par la menace ou les pressions et priver leurs lecteurs, auditeurs et téléspectateurs d’une vision objective du terrain », poursuit le texte.

« A plusieurs reprises, des journalistes étrangers travaillant à Gaza ont été harcelés, menacés ou interrogés sur des reportages ou des informations dont ils avaient fait état dans leur média ou sur les réseaux sociaux », a dit l’association.

Des centaines de journalistes venus du monde entier se sont rendus à Gaza pour « couvrir » le conflit entre Israël et le Hamas, qui contrôle le territoire. « Environ 10% » d’entre eux ont dit avoir rencontré des difficultés avec les autorités du Hamas, a dit une responsable de l’association à l’AFP.

Les journalistes ayant été menacés répugnent à raconter publiquement leur expérience, par crainte des répercussions, a-t-elle dit.

Un photographe a rapporté à l’association avoir été frappé et son appareil détruit; l’appareil d’un autre lui a été confisqué pendant trois jours et il a été demandé à plusieurs journalistes de retirer des publications sur Twitter et des vidéos sur YouTube. Un média européen a été menacé alors qu’il filmait une manifestation anti-Hamas, a-t-elle dit.

L’association accuse aussi le Hamas de chercher à « filtrer » l’entrée des journalistes en réclamant des informations sur leur compte à leur média. Elle craint l’établissement d’une liste noire des journalistes dont le travail aurait déplu au Hamas.

Plusieurs médias ont rapporté avoir reçu lundi une demande du Hamas réclamant les noms des journalistes se rendant à Gaza, leur média, leur pays de résidence, leurs coordonnées ainsi que le nom de leur traducteur, pour « faciliter et organiser » leur travail dans l’enclave palestinienne.

Voir encore:

Hillary Clinton: ‘Failure’ to Help Syrian Rebels Led to the Rise of ISIS
The former secretary of state, and probable candidate for president, outlines her foreign-policy doctrine. She says this about President Obama’s: « Great nations need organizing principles, and ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle. »
Jeffrey Goldberg

The Atlantic

AUG 10 2014

President Obama has long ridiculed the idea that the U.S., early in the Syrian civil war, could have shaped the forces fighting the Assad regime, thereby stopping al Qaeda-inspired groups—like the one rampaging across Syria and Iraq today—from seizing control of the rebellion. In an interview in February, the president told me that “when you have a professional army … fighting against a farmer, a carpenter, an engineer who started out as protesters and suddenly now see themselves in the midst of a civil conflict—the notion that we could have, in a clean way that didn’t commit U.S. military forces, changed the equation on the ground there was never true.”

Well, his former secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton, isn’t buying it. In an interview with me earlier this week, she used her sharpest language yet to describe the « failure » that resulted from the decision to keep the U.S. on the sidelines during the first phase of the Syrian uprising.

“The failure to help build up a credible fighting force of the people who were the originators of the protests against Assad—there were Islamists, there were secularists, there was everything in the middle—the failure to do that left a big vacuum, which the jihadists have now filled,” Clinton said.

As she writes in her memoir of her State Department years, Hard Choices, she was an inside-the-administration advocate of doing more to help the Syrian rebellion. Now, her supporters argue, her position has been vindicated by recent events.
Hillary Clinton: Chinese System Is Doomed, Leaders on a ‘Fool’s Errand’
Professional Clinton-watchers (and there are battalions of them) have told me that it is only a matter of time before she makes a more forceful attempt to highlight her differences with the (unpopular) president she ran against, and then went on to serve. On a number of occasions during my interview with her, I got the sense that this effort is already underway. (And for what it’s worth, I also think she may have told me that she’s running for president—see below for her not-entirely-ambiguous nod in that direction.)

Of course, Clinton had many kind words for the “incredibly intelligent” and “thoughtful” Obama, and she expressed sympathy and understanding for the devilishly complicated challenges he faces. But she also suggested that she finds his approach to foreign policy overly cautious, and she made the case that America needs a leader who believes that the country, despite its various missteps, is an indispensable force for good. At one point, I mentioned the slogan President Obama recently coined to describe his foreign-policy doctrine: “Don’t do stupid shit” (an expression often rendered as “Don’t do stupid stuff” in less-than-private encounters).

This is what Clinton said about Obama’s slogan: “Great nations need organizing principles, and ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle.”

She softened the blow by noting that Obama was “trying to communicate to the American people that he’s not going to do something crazy,” but she repeatedly suggested that the U.S. sometimes appears to be withdrawing from the world stage.

During a discussion about the dangers of jihadism (a topic that has her “hepped-up, » she told me moments after she greeted me at her office in New York) and of the sort of resurgent nationalism seen in Russia today, I noted that Americans are quite wary right now of international commitment-making. She responded by arguing that there is a happy medium between bellicose posturing (of the sort she associated with the George W. Bush administration) and its opposite, a focus on withdrawal.

“You know, when you’re down on yourself, and when you are hunkering down and pulling back, you’re not going to make any better decisions than when you were aggressively, belligerently putting yourself forward,” she said. “One issue is that we don’t even tell our own story very well these days.”

I responded by saying that I thought that “defeating fascism and communism is a pretty big deal.” In other words, that the U.S., on balance, has done a good job of advancing the cause of freedom.

Clinton responded to this idea with great enthusiasm: “That’s how I feel! Maybe this is old-fashioned.” And then she seemed to signal that, yes, indeed, she’s planning to run for president. “Okay, I feel that this might be an old-fashioned idea, but I’m about to find out, in more ways than one.”

She said that the resilience, and expansion, of Islamist terrorism means that the U.S. must develop an “overarching” strategy to confront it, and she equated this struggle to the one the U.S. waged against Soviet-led communism.

Clinton-watchers say it’s a matter of time before she highlights her differences with Obama. I got the sense that this effort is well underway.
“One of the reasons why I worry about what’s happening in the Middle East right now is because of the breakout capacity of jihadist groups that can affect Europe, can affect the United States,” she said. “Jihadist groups are governing territory. They will never stay there, though. They are driven to expand. Their raison d’etre is to be against the West, against the Crusaders, against the fill-in-the-blank—and we all fit into one of these categories. How do we try to contain that? I’m thinking a lot about containment, deterrence, and defeat.”

She went on, “You know, we did a good job in containing the Soviet Union but we made a lot of mistakes, we supported really nasty guys, we did some things that we are not particularly proud of, from Latin America to Southeast Asia, but we did have a kind of overarching framework about what we were trying to do that did lead to the defeat of the Soviet Union and the collapse of Communism. That was our objective. We achieved it.” (This was one of those moments, by the way, when I was absolutely sure I wasn’t listening to President Obama, who is loath to discuss the threat of Islamist terrorism in such a sweeping manner.)

Much of my conversation with Clinton focused on the Gaza war. She offered a vociferous defense of Israel, and of its prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, as well. This is noteworthy because, as secretary of state, she spent a lot of time yelling at Netanyahu on the administration’s behalf over Israel’s West Bank settlement policy. Now, she is leaving no daylight at all between the Israelis and herself.

“I think Israel did what it had to do to respond to the rockets,” she told me. “Israel has a right to defend itself. The steps Hamas has taken to embed rockets and command-and-control facilities and tunnel entrances in civilian areas, this makes a response by Israel difficult.”

I asked her if she believed that Israel had done enough to prevent the deaths of children and other innocent people.

“[J]ust as we try to do in the United States and be as careful as possible in going after targets to avoid civilians,” mistakes are made, she said. “We’ve made them. I don’t know a nation, no matter what its values are—and I think that democratic nations have demonstrably better values in a conflict position—that hasn’t made errors, but ultimately the responsibility rests with Hamas.”
She went on to say that “it’s impossible to know what happens in the fog of war. Some reports say, maybe it wasn’t the exact UN school that was bombed, but it was the annex to the school next door where they were firing the rockets. And I do think oftentimes that the anguish you are privy to because of the coverage, and the women and the children and all the rest of that, makes it very difficult to sort through to get to the truth.”

She continued, “There’s no doubt in my mind that Hamas initiated this conflict. … So the ultimate responsibility has to rest on Hamas and the decisions it made.”

When I asked her about the intense international focus on Gaza, she was quick to identify anti-Semitism as an important motivating factor in criticism of Israel. “It is striking … that you have more than 170,000 people dead in Syria. … You have Russia massing battalions—Russia, that actually annexed and is occupying part of a UN member-state—and I fear that it will do even more to prevent the incremental success of the Ukrainian government to take back its own territory, other than Crimea. More than 1,000 people have been killed in Ukraine on both sides, not counting the [Malaysia Airlines] plane, and yet we do see this enormous international reaction against Israel, and Israel’s right to defend itself, and the way Israel has to defend itself. This reaction is uncalled for and unfair.”

She went on, “You can’t ever discount anti-Semitism, especially with what’s going on in Europe today. There are more demonstrations against Israel by an exponential amount than there are against Russia seizing part of Ukraine and shooting down a civilian airliner. So there’s something else at work here than what you see on TV.” Clinton also blamed Hamas for “stage-managing” the conflict. “What you see is largely what Hamas invites and permits Western journalists to report on from Gaza. It’s the old PR problem that Israel has. Yes, there are substantive, deep levels of antagonism or anti-Semitism towards Israel, because it’s a powerful state, a really effective military. And Hamas paints itself as the defender of the rights of the Palestinians to have their own state. So the PR battle is one that is historically tilted against Israel.”

Clinton also seemed to take an indirect shot at administration critics of Netanyahu, who has argued that the rise of Muslim fundamentalism in the Middle East means that Israel cannot, in the foreseeable future, withdraw its forces from much of the West Bank. “If I were the prime minister of Israel, you’re damn right I would expect to have control over security, because even if I’m dealing with [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud] Abbas, who is 79 years old, and other members of Fatah, who are enjoying a better lifestyle and making money on all kinds of things, that does not protect Israel from the influx of Hamas or cross-border attacks from anywhere else. With Syria and Iraq, it is all one big threat. So Netanyahu could not do this in good conscience.”

She also struck a notably hard line on Iran’s nuclear demands. “I’ve always been in the camp that held that they did not have a right to enrichment,” Clinton said. “Contrary to their claim, there is no such thing as a right to enrich. This is absolutely unfounded. There is no such right. I am well aware that I am not at the negotiating table anymore, but I think it’s important to send a signal to everybody who is there that there cannot be a deal unless there is a clear set of restrictions on Iran. The preference would be no enrichment. The potential fallback position would be such little enrichment that they could not break out.” When I asked her if the demands of Israel, and of America’s Arab allies, that Iran not be allowed any uranium-enrichment capability whatsoever were militant or unrealistic, she said, “I think it’s important that they stake out that position.”

What follows is a transcript of our conversation. It has been edited for clarity but not for length, as you will see. Two other things to look for: First, the masterful way in which Clinton says she has drawn no conclusions about events in Syria and elsewhere, and then draws rigorously reasoned conclusions. Second, her fascinating and complicated analysis of the Muslim Brotherhood’s ill-fated dalliance with democracy.
JEFFREY GOLDBERG: It seems that you’ve shifted your position on Iran’s nuclear ambitions. By [chief U.S. negotiator] Wendy Sherman’s definition of maximalism, you’ve taken a fairly maximalist position—little or no enrichment for Iran. Are you taking a harder line than your former colleagues in the Obama administration are taking on this matter?

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: It’s a consistent line. I’ve always been in the camp that held that they did not have a right to enrichment. Contrary to their claim, there is no such thing as a right to enrich. This is absolutely unfounded. There is no such right. I am well aware that I am not at the negotiating table anymore, but I think it’s important to send a signal to everybody who is there that there cannot be a deal unless there is a clear set of restrictions on Iran. The preference would be no enrichment. The potential fallback position would be such little enrichment that they could not break out. So, little or no enrichment has always been my position.

JG: Am I wrong in saying that the Obama administration’s negotiators have a more flexible understanding of this issue at the moment?

HRC: I don’t want to speak for them, but I would argue that Iran, through the voice of the supreme leader, has taken a very maximalist position—he wants 190,000 centrifuges and the right to enrich. And some in our Congress, and some of our best friends, have taken the opposite position—absolutely no enrichment. I think in a negotiation you need to be very clear about what it is going to take to move the other side. I think at the moment there is a big debate going on in Tehran about what they can or should do in order to get relief from the sanctions. It’s my understanding that we still have a united P5+1 position, which is intensive inspections, very clear limits on what they can do in their facilities that they would permitted to operate, and then how they handle this question of enrichment, whether it’s done from the outside, or whether it can truly be constrained to meet what I think our standard should be of little-to-no enrichment. That’s what this negotiation is about.

JG: But there is no sign that the Iranians are willing to pull back—freezing in place is the farthest they seem to be willing to go. Am I wrong?

HRC: We don’t know. I think there’s a political debate. I think you had the position staked out by the supreme leader that they’re going to get to do what they want to do, and that they don’t have any intention of having a nuclear weapon but they nevertheless want 190,000 centrifuges (laughs). I think the political, non-clerical side of the equation is basically saying, “Look, you know, getting relief from these sanctions is economically and politically important to us. We have our hands full in Syria and Iraq, just to name two places, maybe increasingly in Lebanon, and who knows what’s going to happen with us and Hamas. So what harm does it do to have a very strict regime that we can live under until we determine that maybe we won’t have to any longer?” That, I think, is the other side of the argument.
JG: Would you be content with an Iran that is perpetually a year away from being able to reach nuclear-breakout capability?

HRC: I would like it to be more than a year. I think it should be more than a year. No enrichment at all would make everyone breathe easier. If, however, they want a little bit for the Tehran research reactor, or a little bit for this scientific researcher, but they’ll never go above 5 percent enrichment—

JG: So, a few thousand centrifuges?

HRC: We know what “no” means. If we’re talking a little, we’re talking about a discrete, constantly inspected number of centrifuges. “No” is my preference.

JG: Would you define what “a little” means?

HRC: No.

JG: So what the Gulf states want, and what the Israelis want, which is to say no enrichment at all, is not a militant, unrealistic position?

HRC: It’s not an unrealistic position. I think it’s important that they stake out that position.

JG: So, Gaza. As you write in your book, you negotiated the last long-term ceasefire in 2012. Are you surprised at all that it didn’t hold?

HRC: I’m surprised that it held as long as it did. But given the changes in the region, the fall of [former Egyptian President Mohamed] Morsi, his replacement by [Abdel Fattah] al-Sisi, the corner that Hamas felt itself in, I’m not surprised that Hamas provoked another attack.

JG: The Israeli response, was it disproportionate?

HRC: Israel was attacked by rockets from Gaza. Israel has a right to defend itself. The steps Hamas has taken to embed rockets and command-and-control facilities and tunnel entrances in civilian areas, this makes a response by Israel difficult. Of course Israel, just like the United States, or any other democratic country, should do everything they can possibly do to limit civilian casualties.

« We see this enormous international reaction against Israel. This reaction is uncalled for and unfair. »
JG: Do you think Israel did enough to limit civilian casualties?

HRC: It’s unclear. I think Israel did what it had to do to respond to the rockets. And there is the surprising number and complexity of the tunnels, and Hamas has consistently, not just in this conflict, but in the past, been less than protective of their civilians.

JG: Before we continue talking endlessly about Gaza, can I ask you if you think we spend too much time on Gaza and on Israel-Palestine generally? I ask because over the past year or so your successor spent a tremendous amount of time on the Israel-Palestinian file and in the same period of time an al Qaeda-inspired organization took over half of Syria and Iraq.

HRC: Right, right.

JG: I understand that secretaries of state can do more than one thing at a time. But what is the cause of this preoccupation?

HRC: I’ve thought a lot about this, because you do have a number of conflicts going on right now. As the U.S., as a U.S. official, you have to pay attention to anything that threatens Israel directly, or anything in the larger Middle East that arises out of the Palestinian-Israeli situation. That’s just a given.

It is striking, however, that you have more than 170,000 people dead in Syria. You have the vacuum that has been created by the relentless assault by Assad on his own population, an assault that has bred these extremist groups, the most well-known of which, ISIS—or ISIL—is now literally expanding its territory inside Syria and inside Iraq. You have Russia massing battalions—Russia, that actually annexed and is occupying part of a UN member state—and I fear that it will do even more to prevent the incremental success of the Ukrainian government to take back its own territory, other than Crimea. More than 1,000 people have been killed in Ukraine on both sides, not counting the [Malaysia Airlines] plane, and yet we do see this enormous international reaction against Israel, and Israel’s right to defend itself, and the way Israel has to defend itself. This reaction is uncalled for and unfair.

JG: What do you think causes this reaction?

HRC: There are a number of factors going into it. You can’t ever discount anti-Semitism, especially with what’s going on in Europe today. There are more demonstrations against Israel by an exponential amount than there are against Russia seizing part of Ukraine and shooting down a civilian airliner. So there’s something else at work here than what you see on TV.

And what you see on TV is so effectively stage-managed by Hamas, and always has been. What you see is largely what Hamas invites and permits Western journalists to report on from Gaza. It’s the old PR problem that Israel has. Yes, there are substantive, deep levels of antagonism or anti-Semitism towards Israel, because it’s a powerful state, a really effective military. And Hamas paints itself as the defender of the rights of the Palestinians to have their own state. So the PR battle is one that is historically tilted against Israel.

« There’s no doubt in my mind that Hamas initiated this conflict and did so to leverage its position. »
JG: Nevertheless there are hundreds of children—

HRC: Absolutely, and it’s dreadful.

JG: Who do you hold responsible for those deaths? How do you parcel out blame?

HRC: I’m not sure it’s possible to parcel out blame because it’s impossible to know what happens in the fog of war. Some reports say, maybe it wasn’t the exact UN school that was bombed, but it was the annex to the school next door where they were firing the rockets. And I do think oftentimes that the anguish you are privy to because of the coverage, and the women and the children and all the rest of that, makes it very difficult to sort through to get to the truth.

There’s no doubt in my mind that Hamas initiated this conflict and wanted to do so in order to leverage its position, having been shut out by the Egyptians post-Morsi, having been shunned by the Gulf, having been pulled into a technocratic government with Fatah and the Palestinian Authority that might have caused better governance and a greater willingness on the part of the people of Gaza to move away from tolerating Hamas in their midst. So the ultimate responsibility has to rest on Hamas and the decisions it made.

That doesn’t mean that, just as we try to do in the United States and be as careful as possible in going after targets to avoid civilians, that there aren’t mistakes that are made. We’ve made them. I don’t know a nation, no matter what its values are—and I think that democratic nations have demonstrably better values in a conflict position—that hasn’t made errors, but ultimately the responsibility rests with Hamas.

JG: Several years ago, when you were in the Senate, we had a conversation about what would move Israeli leaders to make compromises for peace. You’ve had a lot of arguments with Netanyahu. What is your thinking on Netanyahu now?
HRC: Let’s step back. First of all, [former Israeli Prime Minister] Yitzhak Rabin was prepared to do so much and he was murdered for that belief. And then [former Israeli Prime Minister] Ehud Barak offered everything you could imagine being given under any realistic scenario to the Palestinians for their state, and [former Palestinian leader Yasir] Arafat walked away. I don’t care about the revisionist history. I know that Arafat walked away, okay? Everybody says, “American needs to say something.” Well, we said it, it was the Clinton parameters, we put it out there, and Bill Clinton is adored in Israel, as you know. He got Netanyahu to give up territory, which Netanyahu believes lost him the prime ministership [in his first term], but he moved in that direction, as hard as it was.

Bush pretty much ignored what was going on and they made a terrible error in the Palestinian elections [in which Hamas came to power in Gaza], but he did come with the Roadmap [to Peace] and the Roadmap was credible and it talked about what needed to be done, and this is one area where I give the Palestinians credit. Under [former Palestinian Prime Minister] Salam Fayyad, they made a lot of progress.

I had the last face-to-face negotiations between Abbas and Netanyahu. [Secretary of State John] Kerry never got there. I had them in the room three times with [former Middle East negotiator] George Mitchell and me, and that was it. And I saw Netanyahu move from being against the two-state solution to announcing his support for it, to considering all kinds of Barak-like options, way far from what he is, and what he is comfortable with.

Now I put Jerusalem in a different category. That is the hardest issue, Again, based on my experience—and you know, I got Netanyahu to agree to the unprecedented  settlement freeze, it did not cover East Jerusalem, but it did cover the West Bank and it was actually legitimate and it did stop new housing starts for 10 months. It took me nine months to get Abbas into the negotiations even after we delivered on the settlement freeze, he had a million reasons, some of them legitimate, some of them the same old, same old.

So what I tell people is, yeah, if I were the prime minister of Israel, you’re damn right I would expect to have control over security [on the West Bank], because even if I’m dealing with Abbas, who is 79 years old, and other members of Fatah, who are enjoying a better lifestyle and making money on all kinds of things, that does not protect Israel from the influx of Hamas or cross-border attacks from anywhere else. With Syria and Iraq, it is all one big threat. So Netanyahu could not do this in good conscience. If this were Rabin or Barak in his place—and I’ve talked to Ehud about this—they would have to demand a level of security that would be provided by the [Israel Defense Forces] for a period of time. And in my meetings with them I got Abbas to about six, seven, eight years on continued IDF presence. Now he’s fallen back to three, but he was with me at six, seven, eight. I got Netanyahu to go from forever to 2025. That’s a negotiation, okay? So I know. Dealing with Bibi is not easy, so people get frustrated and they lose sight of what we’re trying to achieve here.

Hillary Clinton meets Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2010. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
JG: You go out of your way in Hard Choices to praise Robert Ford, who recently quit as U.S. ambassador to Syria, as an excellent diplomat. Ford quit in protest and has recently written strongly about what he sees as the inadequacies of Obama administration policy. Do you agree with Ford that we are at fault for not doing enough to build up a credible Syrian opposition when we could have?

HRC: I have the highest regard for Robert. I’m the one who convinced the administration to send an ambassador to Syria. You know, this is why I called the chapter on Syria “A Wicked Problem.” I can’t sit here today and say that if we had done what I recommended, and what Robert Ford recommended, that we’d be in a demonstrably different place.

JG: That’s the president’s argument, that we wouldn’t be in a different place.

HRC: Well, I did believe, which is why I advocated this, that if we were to carefully vet, train, and equip early on a core group of the developing Free Syrian Army, we would, number one, have some better insight into what was going on on the ground. Two, we would have been helped in standing up a credible political opposition, which would prove to be very difficult, because there was this constant struggle between what was largely an exile group outside of Syria trying to claim to be the political opposition, and the people on the ground, primarily those doing the fighting and dying, who rejected that, and we were never able to bridge that, despite a lot of efforts that Robert and others made.

So I did think that eventually, and I said this at the time, in a conflict like this, the hard men with the guns are going to be the more likely actors in any political transition than those on the outside just talking. And therefore we needed to figure out how we could support them on the ground, better equip them, and we didn’t have to go all the way, and I totally understand the cautions that we had to contend with, but we’ll never know. And I don’t think we can claim to know.

JG: You do have a suspicion, though.

HRC: Obviously. I advocated for a position.

JG: Do you think we’d be where we are with ISIS right now if the U.S. had done more three years ago to build up a moderate Syrian opposition?

HRC: Well, I don’t know the answer to that. I know that the failure to help build up a credible fighting force of the people who were the originators of the protests against Assad—there were Islamists, there were secularists, there was everything in the middle—the failure to do that left a big vacuum, which the jihadists have now filled.

They were often armed in an indiscriminate way by other forces and we had no skin in the game that really enabled us to prevent this indiscriminate arming.

JG: Is there a chance that President Obama overlearned the lessons of the previous administration? In other words, if the story of the Bush administration is one of overreach, is the story of the Obama administration one of underreach?

HRC: You know, I don’t think you can draw that conclusion. It’s a very key question. How do you calibrate, that’s the key issue. I think we have learned a lot during this period, but then how to apply it going forward will still take a lot of calibration and balancing. But you know, we helped overthrow [Libyan leader Muammar] Qaddafi.
JG: But we didn’t stick around for the aftermath.

HRC: Well, we did stick around. We stuck around with offers of money and technical assistance, on everything from getting rid of some of the nasty stuff he left behind, to border security, to training. It wasn’t just us, it was the Europeans as well. Some of the Gulf countries had their particular favorites. They certainly stuck around and backed their favorite militias. It is not yet clear how the Libyans themselves will overcome the lack of security, which they inherited from Qaddafi. Remember, they’ve had two good elections. They’ve elected moderates and secularists and a limited number of Islamists, so you talk about democracy in action—the Libyans have done it twice—but they can’t control the ground. But how can you help when you have so many different players who looted the stuffed warehouses of every kind of weapon from the Qaddafi regime, some of which they’re using in Libya, some of which they’re passing out around the region?

So you can go back and argue either, we should we have helped the people of Libya try to overthrow a dictator who, remember, killed Americans and did a lot of other bad stuff, or we should have been on the sidelines. In this case we helped, but that didn’t make the road any easier in Syria, where we said, “It’s messy, it’s complicated, we’re not sure what the outcome will be.” So what I’m hoping for is that we sort out what we have learned, because we’ve tried a bunch of different approaches. Egypt is a perfect example. The revolution in Tahrir Square was not a Muslim Brotherhood revolution. It was not led by Islamists. They came very late to the party. Mubarak falls and I’m in Cairo a short time after, meeting the leaders of this movement, and I’m saying, “Okay, who’s going to run for office? Who’s going to form a political party?” and they’re saying, “We don’t do that, that’s not who we are.”

And I said that there are only two organized groups in this country, the military and the Muslim Brotherhood, and what we have here is an old lesson that you can’t beat somebody with nobody. There was a real opportunity here to, if a group had arisen out of the revolution, to create a democratic Egyptian alternative. Didn’t  happen. What do we have to think about? In order to do that better, I see a lot of questions that we have to be answering. I don’t think we can draw judgments yet. I think we can draw a judgment about the Bush administration in terms of overreach, but I don’t know that we can reach a conclusion about underreach.

Hillary Cliinton poses with Libyan soldiers in the fall of 2011. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)
JG: There is this moment in your book, in which Morsi tells you not to worry about jihadists in the Sinai—he says in essence that now that a Muslim Brotherhood government is in charge, jihadists won’t feel the need to continue their campaign. You write that this was either shockingly sinister or shockingly naïve. Which one do you think it was?

HRC: I think Morsi was naïve. I’m just talking about Morsi, not necessarily anyone else in the Muslim Brotherhood. I think he genuinely believed that with the legitimacy of an elected Islamist government, that the jihadists would see that there was a different route to power and influence and would be part of the political process. He had every hope, in fact, that the credible election of a Muslim Brotherhood government would mean the end of jihadist activities within Egypt, and also exemplify that there’s a different way to power.

The debate is between the bin Ladens of the world and the Muslim Brotherhood. The bin Ladens believe you can’t overthrow the infidels or the impure through politics. It has to be through violent resistance. So when I made the case to Morsi that we were picking up a lot of intelligence about jihadist groups creating safe havens inside Sinai, and that this would be a threat not only to Israel but to Egypt, he just dismissed this out of hand, and then shortly thereafter a large group of Egyptian soldiers were murdered.

JG: In an interview in 2011, I asked you if we should fear the Muslim Brotherhood—this is well before they came into power—and you said, ‘The jury is out.” Is the jury still out for you today?

HRC: I think the jury would come back with a lesser included offense, and that is a failure to govern in a democratic, inclusive manner while holding power in Cairo. The Muslim Brotherhood had the most extraordinary opportunity to demonstrate the potential for an Islamist movement to take responsibility for governance, and they were ill-prepared and unable to make the transition from movement to responsibility. We will see how they respond to the crackdown they’re under in Egypt, but the Muslim Brotherhood itself, although it had close ties with Hamas, for example, had not evidenced, because they were kept under tight control by Mubarak, the willingness to engage in violent conflict to achieve their goals. So the jury is in on their failure to govern in a way that would win the confidence of the entire Egyptian electorate. The jury is out as to whether they morph into a violent jihadist resistance group.

« The jury is out as to whether the Muslim Brotherhood morphs into a violent jihadist resistance group. »
JG: There’s a critique you hear of the Obama administration in the Gulf, in Jordan, in Israel, that it is a sign of naiveté to believe that there are Islamists you can work with, and that Hamas might even be a group that you could work with. Is there a role for political Islam in these countries? Can we ever find a way to work with them?

HRC: I think it’s too soon to tell. I would not put Hamas in the category of people we could work with. I don’t think that is realistic because its whole reason for being is resistance against Israel, destruction of Israel, and it is married to very nasty tactics and ideologies, including virulent anti-Semitism. I do not think they should be in any way treated as a legitimate interlocutor, especially because if you do that, it redounds to the disadvantage of the Palestinian Authority, which has a lot of problems, but historically has changed its charter, moved away from the kind of guerrilla resistance movement of previous decades.

I think you have to ask yourself, could different leaders have made a difference in the Muslim Brotherhood’s governance of Egypt? We won’t know and we can’t know the answer to that question. We know that Morsi was ill-equipped to be president of Egypt. He had no political experience. He was an engineer, he was wedded to the ideology of top-down control.

JG: But you’re open to the idea that there are sophisticated Islamists out there?
HRC: I think you’ve seen a level of sophistication in Tunisia. It’s a very different environment than Egypt, much smaller, but you’ve seen the Ennahda Party evolve from being quite demanding that their position be accepted as the national position but then being willing to step back in the face of very strong political opposition from secularists, from moderate Muslims, etc. So Tunisia might not be the tail that wags the dog, but it’s an interesting tail. If you look at Morocco, where the king had a major role in organizing the electoral change, you have a head of state who is a monarch who is descended from Muhammad, you have a government that is largely but not completely representative of the Muslim party of Morocco. So I think that there are not a lot of analogies, but when you look around the world, there’s a Hindu nationalist party now, back in power in India. The big question for Prime Minister Modi is how inclusive he will be as leader because of questions raised concerning his governance of Gujurat [the state he governed, which was the scene of anti-Muslim riots in 2002]. There were certainly Christian parties in Europe, pre- and post-World War II. They had very strong values that they wanted to see their society follow, but they were steeped in democracy, so they were good political actors.

JG: So, it’s not an impossibility.

HRC: It’s not an impossibility. So far, it doesn’t seem likely. We have to say that. Because for whatever reason, whatever combination of reasons, there hasn’t been the soil necessary to nurture the political side of the experience, for people whose primary self-definition is as Islamists.

« We’ve learned about the limits of our power. But we’ve also learned about the importance of our power appropriately deployed and explained. »
JG: Are we so egocentric, so Washington-centric, that we think that our decisions are dispositive? As secretary, did you learn more about the possibilities of American power or the limitations of American power?

HRC: Both, but it’s not just about American power. It’s American values that also happen to be universal values. If you have no political—small “p”—experience, it is really hard to go from a dictatorship to anything resembling what you and I would call democracy. That’s the lesson of Egypt. We didn’t invade Egypt. They did it themselves, and once they did it they looked around and didn’t know what they were supposed to do next.

I think we’ve learned about the limits of our power to spread freedom and democracy. That’s one of the big lessons out of Iraq. But we’ve also learned about the importance of our power, our influence, and our values appropriately deployed and explained. If you’re looking at what we could have done that would have been more effective, would have been more accepted by the Egyptians on the political front, what could we have done that would have been more effective in Libya, where they did their elections really well under incredibly difficult circumstances but they looked around and they had no levers to pull because they had these militias out there. My passion is, let’s do some after-action reviews, let’s learn these lessons, let’s figure out how we’re going to have different and better responses going forward.

JG: Is the lesson for you, like it is for President Obama, “Don’t do stupid shit”?

HRC: That’s a good lesson but it’s more complicated than that. Because your stupid may not be mine, and vice versa. I don’t think it was stupid for the United States to do everything we could to remove Qaddafi because that came from the bottom up. That was people asking us to help. It was stupid to do what we did in Iraq and to have no plan about what to do after we did it. That was really stupid. I don’t think you can quickly jump to conclusions about what falls into the stupid and non-stupid categories. That’s what I’m arguing.

JG: Do you think the next administration, whoever it is, can find some harmony between muscular intervention—“We must do something”—vs. let’s just not do something stupid, let’s stay away from problems like Syria because it’s a wicked problem and not something we want to tackle?

HRC: I think part of the challenge is that our government too often has a tendency to swing between these extremes. The pendulum swings back and then the pendulum swings the other way. What I’m arguing for is to take a hard look at what tools we have. Are they sufficient for the complex situations we’re going to face, or not? And what can we do to have better tools? I do think that is an important debate.

One of the reasons why I worry about what’s happening in the Middle East right now is because of the breakout capacity of jihadist groups that can affect Europe, can affect the United States. Jihadist groups are governing territory. They will never stay there, though. They are driven to expand. Their raison d’être is to be against the West, against the Crusaders, against the fill-in-the-blank—and we all fit into one of these categories. How do we try to contain that? I’m thinking a lot about containment, deterrence, and defeat. You know, we did a good job in containing the Soviet Union, but we made a lot of mistakes, we supported really nasty guys, we did some things that we are not particularly proud of, from Latin America to Southeast Asia, but we did have a kind of overarching framework about what we were trying to do that did lead to the defeat of the Soviet Union and the collapse of Communism. That was our objective. We achieved it.

Now the big mistake was thinking that, okay, the end of history has come upon us, after the fall of the Soviet Union. That was never true, history never stops and nationalisms were going to assert themselves, and then other variations on ideologies were going to claim  their space. Obviously, jihadi Islam is the prime example, but not the only example—the effort by Putin to restore his vision of Russian greatness is another. In the world in which we are living right now, vacuums get filled by some pretty unsavory players.

Hillary Clinton and Vladimir Putin, in 2012 (Jim Watson/Reuters)
JG: There doesn’t seem to be a domestic constituency for the type of engagement you might symbolize.

HRC: Well, that’s because most Americans think of engagement and go immediately to military engagement. That’s why I use the phrase “smart power.” I did it deliberately because I thought we had to have another way of talking about American engagement, other than unilateralism and the so-called boots on the ground.

You know, when you’re down on yourself, and when you are hunkering down and pulling back, you’re not going to make any better decisions than when you were aggressively, belligerently putting yourself forward. One issue is that we don’t even tell our own story very well these days.
JG: I think that defeating fascism and communism is a pretty big deal.

HRC: That’s how I feel! Maybe this is old-fashioned. Okay, I feel that this might be an old-fashioned idea—but I’m about to find out, in more ways than one.

Great nations need organizing principles, and “Don’t do stupid stuff” is not an organizing principle. It may be a necessary brake on the actions you might take in order to promote a vision.

JG: So why do you think the president went out of his way to suggest recently that that this is his foreign policy in a nutshell?

HRC: I think he was trying to communicate to the American people that he’s not going to do something crazy. I’ve sat in too many rooms with the president. He’s thoughtful, he’s incredibly smart, and able to analyze a lot of different factors that are all moving at the same time. I think he is cautious because he knows what he inherited, both the two wars and the economic front, and he has expended a lot of capital and energy trying to pull us out of the hole we’re in.

So I think that that’s a political message. It’s not his worldview, if that makes sense to you.

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama on the campaign trail, in 2008 (Jim Young/Reuters)
JG: There is an idea in some quarters that the administration shows signs of believing that we, the U.S., aren’t so great, so we shouldn’t be telling people what to do.

HRC: I know that that is an opinion held by a certain group of Americans, I get all that. It’s not where I’m at.

JG: What is your organizing principle, then?

HRC: Peace, progress, and prosperity. This worked for a very long time. Take prosperity. That’s a huge domestic challenge for us. If we don’t restore the American dream for Americans, then you can forget about any kind of continuing leadership in the world. Americans deserve to feel secure in their own lives, in their own middle-class aspirations, before you go to them and say, “We’re going to have to enforce navigable sea lanes in the South China Sea.” You’ve got to take care of your home first. That’s another part of the political messaging that you have to engage in right now. People are not only turned off about being engaged in the world, they’re pretty discouraged about what’s happening here at home.

I think people want—and this is a generalization I will go ahead and make—people want to make sure our economic situation improves and that our political decision-making improves. Whether they articulate it this way or not, I think people feel like we’re facing really important challenges here at home: The economy is not growing, the middle class is not feeling like they are secure, and we are living in a time of gridlock and dysfunction that is just frustrating and outraging.

People assume that we’re going to have to do what we do so long as it’s not stupid, but what people want us to focus on are problems here at home. If you were to scratch below the surface on that—and I haven’t looked at the research or the polling—but I think people would say, first things first. Let’s make sure we are taking care of our people and we’re doing it in a way that will bring rewards to those of us who work hard, play by the rules, and yeah, we don’t want to see the world go to hell in a handbasket, and they don’t want to see a resurgence of aggression by anybody.

JG: Do you think they understand your idea about expansionist jihadism following us home?

HRC: I don’t know that people are thinking about it. People are thinking about what is wrong with people in Washington that they can’t make decisions, and they want the economy to grow again. People are feeling a little bit that there’s a little bit happening that is making them feel better about the economy, but it’s not nearly enough where it should be.

JG: Have you been able to embed your women’s agenda at the core of what the federal government does?

HRC: Yes, we did. We had the first-ever ambassador for global women’s issues. That’s permanent now, and that’s a big deal because that is the beachhead.

Secretary Kerry to his credit has issued directions to embassies and diplomats about this continuing to be a priority for our government. There is also a much greater basis in research now that proves you cannot have peace and security without the participation of women. You can’t grow your GDP without opening the doors to full participation of women and girls in the formal economy.

JG: There’s a link between misogyny and stagnation in the Middle East, which in many ways is the world’s most dysfunctional region.

HRC: It’s now very provable, when you look at the data from the IMF and the World Bank and what opening the formal economy would mean to a country’s GDP. You have Prime Minister [Shinzo] Abe in Japan who was elected to fix the economy after so many years of dysfunction in Japan, and one of the major elements in his plan is to get women into the workforce. If you do that, if I remember correctly, the GDP for Japan would go up nine percent. Well, it would go up 34 percent in Egypt. So it’s self-evident and provable.

Voir enfin:

The Hillary Metamorphosis
Reasons to be skeptical about Mrs. Clinton’s self-reinvention as a foreign-policy hawk.
Bret Stephens
WSJ
Aug. 11, 2014 7

Robert Gates, who is the Captain Renault of our time, recounts the following White House exchange between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, back when she was serving the president loyally as secretary of state and he was taking notes as secretary of defense.

« In strongly supporting a surge in Afghanistan, » Mr. Gates writes in his memoir, « Duty, » « Hillary told the president that her opposition in Iraq had been political because she was facing him in the primary. She went on to say, ‘The Iraq surge worked.’ The president conceded vaguely that opposition to the surge had been political. To hear the two of them making these admissions, and in front of me, was as surprising as it was dismaying. »

Here’s a fit subject for an undergraduate philosophy seminar: What, or who, is your true self? Are you Kierkegaardian or Aristotelian? Is the real « you » the interior and subjective you; the you of your private whispers and good intentions? Or are you only the sum of your public behavior, statements and actions? Are you the you that you have been, and are? Or are you what you are, perhaps, becoming?

And if Mrs. Clinton supported the surge in private—because she thought it would help America win a war—but opposed it in public—because she needed to win a primary—shall we conclude that she is (a) despicable; (b) clever; (c) both; or (d) « what difference, at this point, does it make? »

***
All this comes to mind after reading Mrs. Clinton’s remarkable interview with Jeffrey Goldberg in the Atlantic. « Great nations need organizing principles, » she said, in the interview’s most quotable line, « and ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle. »

That one is a direct riposte to the White House’s latest brainstorm of a guiding foreign-policy concept. But it wasn’t Mrs. Clinton’s only put-down of her old boss.

She was scathing on the president’s abdication in Syria: « I know that the failure »—failure— »to help build a credible fighting force of the people who were the originators of the protests against Assad . . . the failure to do that left a big vacuum, which the jihadists have now filled. » She was unequivocal in her defense of Israel, in a way that would be unimaginable coming from John Kerry : « If I were prime minister of Israel, you’re damn right I would expect to have control over security [on the West Bank]. » She was dubious about the nuclear diplomacy with Iran, and the administration’s willingness to concede to Tehran a « right » to enrich uranium.

She blasted Israel’s critics in its war against Hamas: « You can’t ever discount anti-Semitism, especially with what’s going on in Europe today. » She hinted at the corruption of Mahmoud Abbas and his inner circle, « who are enjoying a better lifestyle and making money on all kinds of things. » She blamed Moscow for « shooting down a civilian jetliner, » presumably while the president waits for the results of a forensic investigation.

And she made the case for American power: « We’ve learned about the limits of our power to spread freedom and democracy. That’s one big lesson out of Iraq. But we’ve also learned about the importance of our power, our influence, and our values. » With Mr. Obama, the emphasis is always on the limitations, period.

All this sounds a lot like what you might read on this editorial page. Whatever happened to the Hillary Clinton who was an early advocate of diplomatic engagement with Iran, and who praised Bashar Assad as a « reformer » and pointedly refused to call for his ouster six months into the uprising? Wasn’t she the most vocal and enthusiastic advocate for the reset with Russia? Didn’t she deliver White House messages to Benjamin Netanyahu by yelling at him? Didn’t she also once describe former Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak as a family friend?

And didn’t she characterize her relationship with Mr. Obama—in that cloying « 60 Minutes » exit interview the two of them did with Steve Kroft —as « very warm, very close »? Where’s the love now?

***
There are a few possible answers to that one. One is that the views she expressed in the interview are sincere and long-held and she was always a closet neoconservative; Commentary magazine is delivered to her mailbox in an unmarked brown envelope. Another is that Mrs. Clinton can read a poll: Americans now disapprove of the president’s handling of foreign policy by a 57% to 37% margin, and she belatedly needs to disavow the consequences of the policies she once advocated. A third is that she believes in whatever she says, at least at the time she’s saying it. She is a Clinton, after all.

There’s something to all of these theories: The political opportunist always lacks the courage of his, or her, convictions. That’s not necessarily because there aren’t any convictions. It’s because the convictions are always subordinated to the needs of ambition and ingratiation.

Then again, who cares who Mrs. Clinton really is? When the question needs to be asked, it means we already know, or should know, how to answer it. The truth about Mrs. Clinton isn’t what’s potentially at stake in the next election. It’s the truth about who we are. Are we prepared to believe anything?

We tried that with Barack Obama, the man who promised to be whatever we wanted him to be. Mrs. Clinton’s self-reinvention as a hawk invites us to make the mistake twice.

Voir enfin:

Le monde va mal, et Barack Obama n’y est pas pour rien

Barack Obama arrive en Virginie après avoir passé un week-end à Camp David le 20 juillet 2014. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Irak, Syrie, Gaza, Afghanistan, Libye, Ukraine… dans chaque point chaud du globe, la diplomatie américaine, menée par un président vivant dans un monde imaginaire, a commis de grossières erreurs. Inexpérimentée, idéaliste, indécise, dilettante.

De l’Irak à l’Ukraine, de la Syrie à la Libye et à l’Afghanistan en passant par Gaza, les conflits sanglants se multiplient. «Le monde est devenu un foutoir», s’est même exclamée Madeleine Albright, ancienne secrétaire d’Etat de Bill Clinton qui utilise d’habitude un langage plus châtié.

Cela n’a pas de sens de faire porter toute la responsabilité de ce «foutoir» à Barack Obama et à la diplomatie américaine. Pourtant, dans chacun des points chauds du globe –Irak, Ukraine, Syrie, Libye, Afghanistan et Gaza–, la Maison Blanche a commis de grossières erreurs: en se désengageant trop vite, en ne mesurant pas suffisamment les enjeux et les risques, en menaçant sans jamais agir et en étant incapable de se donner une stratégie.

Des discours mais pas d’actes

Barack Obama et les Etats-Unis sont ainsi devenus aujourd’hui presque transparents sur la scène internationale, incapables de forcer un cessez-le-feu à Gaza, de faire condamner la Russie de Vladimir Poutine après la destruction en vol d’un avion civil au-dessus de l’est de l’Ukraine ou d’empêcher l’effondrement de l’Irak, de l’Afghanistan, de la Syrie et de la Libye. La diplomatie américaine a perdu au fil des mois sa crédibilité et son autorité.

Il y a 5 ans, Barack Obama avait pourtant reçu le prix Nobel de la Paix pour «ses efforts à renforcer la diplomatie et la coopération entre les peuples». Mais les discours et les promesses, aussi brillants soient-ils, doivent être suivis d’actes.

Charles Krauthammer, chroniqueur républicain du Washington Post, évoque une «présidence vacante», hors du monde réel.

«Barack Obama semble totalement détaché des convulsions du monde. Quand il interrompt ces parties de golf, levées de fonds et autres occasions de prises de vue en public, c’est pour des déclarations publiques presque forcées, sans affect, mécaniques.»

Et il ajoute:

«Un vrai Président des Etats-Unis donnerait à Kiev les armes nécessaires, imposerait des sanctions dévastatrices à Moscou, relancerait notre système de défense anti-missile en Europe centrale et ferait un discours à la Reagan pour expliquer pourquoi. Obama n’a rien fait de cela. Mais pourquoi le ferait-il? Il est du bon côté de l’histoire.»

Se retirer du Moyen-Orient et de l’Europe

Pour Charles Krauthammer, si Barack Obama est si éloigné des nécessités de la realpolitik et des rapports de force, c’est parce qu’il est inexpérimenté, idéaliste et plus encore dilettante. Il est convaincu «qu’à la fin, des notions aussi dépassées et primitives que celles de la conquête territoriale conduisent à la défaite… “L’arc de l’univers moral est long, mais il tend vers la justice”, expliquait-il en juin 2009 en parlant de la révolution islamique en Iran».

C’est dans cette logique que Barack Obama voulait en arrivant au pouvoir en janvier 2009 prendre le contre-pied de son prédécesseur George W. Bush et se retirer des affaires européennes et du Moyen-Orient. Il expliquait alors que les Etats-Unis devaient d’abord se préoccuper de construire une nation sur leur propre territoire plutôt qu’en Afghanistan et en Irak et donnait la priorité à l’Asie, la région du monde la plus dynamique.

Mais en tournant le dos, par principe, à l’Europe et au Moyen-Orient, la Maison Blanche a été incapable de saisir l’opportunité stratégique des printemps arabes et tout aussi incapable de contrer les ambitions impériales retrouvées de Vladimir Poutine. Au passage, elle y a perdu la confiance de ses alliés au Moyen-Orient (Egypte, Arabie saoudite, Turquie, Israël…), de certains de ses alliés en Europe (Pologne, Etats Baltes…) et inquiète fortement ses alliés asiatiques (Japon, Corée du sud, Thaïlande…).

Il faut dire que la politique étrangère américaine cumule les désastres.

Le retrait de l’ensemble des troupes américaines d’Irak a débouché sur la partition de fait du pays. Sans les 15.000 soldats américains, que les généraux voulaient maintenir sur place, les Etats-Unis n’ont eu aucun moyen de soutenir l’armée irakienne et de l’empêcher de s’effondrer face aux djihadistes. La Maison Blanche a beau se justifier en expliquant que c’était sur l’insistance du Premier ministre irakien Nouri al-Maliki, c’était surtout Barack Obama qui ne voulait plus un seul soldat américain sur le sol irakien.

Une ligne rouge en Syrie qui n’en était pas une

L’erreur a encore été plus grande en Syrie. Obama a d’abord refusé de soutenir les rebelles modérés et prédisait alors la chute de Bachar el-Assad. Quand ce dernier a gazé à mort 1.400 civils, franchissant la ligne rouge fixée par Barack Obama, ce dernier a demandé l’autorisation au Congrès d’apporter une réponse militaire… et s’en est remis à Vladimir Poutine pour obtenir du dictateur syrien qu’il renonce à son arsenal chimique.

Bachar el-Assad n’est pas tombé. Les rebelles démocrates ont été balayés. Le nombre de morts dépasse les 200.000 et les djihadistes qui mènent la lutte contre le dictateur ont les mêmes méthodes sanguinaires que lui.

Il y a eu aussi l’épisode libyen. Sollicité par la France et le Royaume-Uni, Barack Obama a participé à l’intervention aérienne pour renverser Mouammar Khadafi. Mais il a refusé de soutenir le nouveau gouvernement libyen et d’entraîner son armée. En conséquence de quoi, la Libye sombre dans le chaos.

L’occasion manquée des printemps arabes

La réponse américaine aux printemps arabes a été désastreuse. Quand des citoyens ordinaires sont descendus dans les rues pour réclamer la démocratie, les occidentaux, à commencer par les Etats-Unis, leur ont tourné le dos. «La réponse aurait dû être du même type que le plan Marshall après la Seconde Guerre mondiale…», explique Fred Hiatt toujours dans le Washington Post.

«Si les Etats-Unis avaient montré la voie à suivre, l’Europe et l’Amérique auraient pu offrir des investissements, des accords commerciaux, des échanges et des opportunités culturelles pour entraîner cette région dans le monde moderne et démocratique. Mais pour Obama, le tumulte en Egypte et ailleurs était une distraction, pas une opportunité qui ne se présente qu’une seule fois…»

Dans le cas de la Russie, Barack Obama a proposé à Vladimir Poutine son fameux «reset», une remise à zéro des relations entre les Etats-Unis et la Russie. Mais Moscou n’était pas intéressé et avait pour ambition de reconstituer un empire et de le justifier par l’impérialisme américain. La Maison Blanche a été incapable d’apporter la moindre réponse à cela et même de mobiliser les énergies en Europe pour répondre à la menace.

Personne ne peut savoir si les Etats-Unis avaient eu un «grand» Président, si les occidentaux auraient pu soutenir activement les démocrates arabes, auraient pu empêcher l’Irak de s’effondrer, Bachar el-Assad de garder le pouvoir et auraient fait reculer Vladimir Poutine.

Mais en manifestant une telle incompétence, indécision et même indifférence face aux affaires du monde, Barack Obama l’a indéniablement rendu bien plus dangereux au cours des cinq dernières années.

Voir encore:

Tragedy of Obama’s diplomacy

 John Robson

The Toronto Sun

July 20, 2014

Are you enjoying your newfound global tranquility? If so you can thank Barack Obama. At least, that’s what he says.

Seriously. Asked about an eruption of global instability, especially in the Middle East, and the impression “that the president is a bystander to all these crises, » White House press secretary Josh Earnest said “I think that there have been a number of situations in which you’ve seen this administration intervene in a meaningful way, that has substantially furthered American interests and substantially improved the, uh, you know, the – the tranquility of the global community.” And that was before the Israeli incursion into Gaza and the downing of a Malaysian Airlines passenger plane over Ukraine. Uh, you know.

Earnest’s remark reminds us that people really think what they say. No one aware that his statement was absurd would have made it. But it also reminds us of the tragedy of Obama’s diplomacy, that he really did have something to contribute to U.S. foreign policy and really intended to contribute it but botched it through a peculiar, Carteresque feckless arrogance.

When he took office the U.S. was overextended abroad, militarily and in the American public’s willingness to expend blood and treasure trying to bail ungrateful foreigners out of self-inflicted messes. Like many voters, Obama believed a prudent reduction in commitments and ambitions would be healthy for his nation and the world.

Humility is good in one’s personal life and has its place in diplomacy. For America to elect a black president willing to be frank about the nation’s shortcomings was a powerful vindication of an open society’s capacity for honest, constructive self-examination. But inability to tell humility from feebleness not only created short-term danger for America and the world, it risks discrediting the option he so passionately championed.

In his remarkable Special Providence, Walter Russell Mead identifies four principal schools in American foreign policy. “Hamiltonians” concerned about world order and “Wilsonians” crusading to impose American ideals abroad are the two familiar ones, generally described as “realists” or “idealists” (and prone to squabble over whether idealism is realistic in the long run or vice versa). But Mead adds two others of enormous and often overlooked importance.

One is “Jacksonians, »often ignorant and scornful of foreigners but robust supporters of American sovereignty and decisive action when their country is challenged or insulted. And while it might seem petty to resent insults, in foreign policy in particular willingness to tolerate serious insults signals weakness that invites challenges, to such an extent that insults themselves become challenges.

Their tendency to swing between scorning the world and kicking its equator imparts a certain volatility to America’s foreign relations. But Jacksonians also give it great supple strength, because they support vigorous action without tolerating hyperactivity.

That brings me to the final school, smallest and least influential but still significant and useful, Mead’s “Jeffersonians.” These are idealists, like the Wilsonians. But instead of seeking to impose America’s special virtues on the world, they fear constant engagement in ugly foreign entanglements will tarnish American ideals and undermine domestic liberty.

They are present in both parties, on the Democratic “left” and among Republican libertarians. And Mead argues they are another underappreciated source of supple American strength because when the U.S. gets overextended, as under the Wilsonian George W. Bush, they stand ready with an analysis and prescription for retrenchment.

Obama is a “Jeffersonian,” despite his drone strikes and excessive surveillance at home and abroad. But, like Carter before him, he seems to have abdicated rather than reduced America’s positive role abroad and, indeed, to doubt it can play one. Mistaking the resulting upheaval for “tranquility” tarnishes not just his presidency but the whole notion of prudent, cautious global engagement.

There lies the tragedy of his diplomacy.

Voir enfin:

The vacant presidency

Charles Krauthammer
The Washington Post
July 24, 2014

The president’s demeanor is worrying a lot of people. From the immigration crisis on the Mexican border to the Islamic State rising in Mesopotamia, Barack Obama seems totally detached from the world’s convulsions. When he does interrupt his endless rounds of golf, fundraising and photo ops, it’s for some affectless, mechanical, almost forced public statement.

Regarding Ukraine, his detachment — the rote, impassive voice — borders on dissociation. His U.N. ambassador, Samantha Power, delivers an impassioned denunciation of Russia. Obama cautions that we not “get out ahead of the facts,” as if the facts of this case — Vladimir Putin’s proxies shooting down a civilian airliner — are in doubt.

Charles Krauthammer writes a weekly political column that runs on Fridays.

The preferred explanation for the president’s detachment is psychological. He’s checked out. Given up. Let down and disappointed by the world, he is in withdrawal.

Perhaps.

But I’d propose an alternate theory, less psychological than intellectual, that gives him more credit: Obama’s passivity stems from an idea. When Obama says Putin has placed himself on the wrong side of history in Ukraine, he actually believes it . He disdains realpolitik because he believes that, in the end, such primitive 19th-century notions as conquest are self-defeating. History sees to their defeat.

“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice,” said Obama in June 2009 (and many times since) regarding the Green Revolution in Iran.

Ultimately, injustice and aggression don’t pay. The Soviets saw their 20th-century empire dissolve. More proximally, U.S. gains in Iraq and Afghanistan were, in time, liquidated. Ozymandias lies forever buried and forgotten in desert sands.

Remember when, at the beginning of the Ukraine crisis, Obama tried to construct for Putin “an offramp” from Crimea? Absurd as this idea was, I think Obama was sincere. He actually imagined that he’d be saving Putin from himself, that Crimea could only redound against Russia in the long run.

If you really believe this, then there is no need for forceful, potentially risky U.S. counteractions. Which explains everything since: Obama’s pinprick sanctions; his failure to rally a craven Europe; his refusal to supply Ukraine with the weapons it has been begging for.

The shooting down of a civilian airliner seemed to validate Obama’s passivity. “Violence and conflict inevitably lead to unforeseen consequences,” explained Obama. See. You play with fire, it will blow up in your face. Just as I warned. Now world opinion will turn against Putin.

To which I say: So what? World opinion, by itself, is useless: malleable, ephemeral and, unless mobilized by leadership, powerless. History doesn’t act autonomously. It needs agency.

Germany’s Angela Merkel still doesn’t want to jeopardize trade with Russia. France’s François Hollande will proceed with delivery of a Mistral-class attack-helicopter carrier to Russia. And Obama speaks of future “costs” if Russia persists — a broken record since Crimea, carrying zero credibility.

Or did Obama think Putin — a KGB thug who rose to power by turning Chechnya to rubble — would be shamed into regret and restraint by the blood of 298 innocents? On the contrary. Putin’s response has been brazen defiance: denying everything and unleashing a massive campaign of lies, fabrications and conspiracy theories blaming it all on Ukraine and the United States.

Putin doesn’t give a damn about world opinion. He cares about domestic opinion, which has soared to more than 80 percent approval since Crimea. If anything, he’s been emboldened. On Wednesday, his proxies shot down two more jets — a finger to the world and a declaration that his campaign continues.

A real U.S. president would give Kiev the weapons it needs, impose devastating sectoral sanctions on Moscow, reinstate our Central European missile-
defense system and make a Reaganesque speech explaining why.

Obama has done none of these things. Why should he? He’s on the right side of history.

Of course, in the long run nothing lasts. But history is lived in the here and now. The Soviets had only 70 years, Hitler a mere 12. Yet it was enough to murder millions and rain ruin on entire continents. Bashar al-Assad, too, will one day go. But not before having killed at least 100,000 people.

All domination must end. But after how much devastation? And if you leave it to the forces of history to repel aggression and redeem injustice, what’s the point of politics, of leadership, in the first place?

The world is aflame and our leader is on the 14th green. The arc of history may indeed bend toward justice, Mr. President. But, as you say, the arc is long. The job of a leader is to shorten it, to intervene on behalf of “the fierce urgency of now.” Otherwise, why do we need a president? And why did you seek to become ours?

8 commentaires pour Gaza: Obama va-t-il continuer à servir de bouclier aux barbares du Hamas à nos portes ? (After Iraq, Syria, Libya and Afghanistan, will Obama throw Israel to the wolves ?)

  1. jcdurbant dit :

    Voir aussi:

    The reality is that your intended policy of benign neglect has actually proven to be one of malignant neglect and only strengthened our foes. (…)putting the United States in an isolationist posture, thereby leaving a vacuum for our strategic adversaries to fill. Whether it was due to the perceived abandonment of Hosni Mubarak and Omar Sulaiman in Egypt after decades of close cooperation with Washington, the near abandonment of the Al Khalifa dynasty in Bahrain, the red line that became pink and then invisible in Syria or the countless missteps in concluding the war in Iraq, strategic allies like Israel, Turkey, the Gulf Arab monarchies and the Kurds feel angry and abandoned while foes like Russia, Iran and al Qaeda feel emboldened.
    As the Middle East melts down and allies quietly look toward Moscow or Beijing for strategic support, we should understand that they do so reluctantly. Unlike some of their populations, most regional leaders are moderate, secular and are genuine fans of Western culture, and, like the United States, they have been served well by a strategic alliance with Washington that goes back decades. Motivated by preserving their dynasties through relatively good governance, and influenced by Western educations, these leaders are an invaluable bulwark against radical extremism and thus are critical to preserving regional stability and a global economy that remains addicted to Middle Eastern oil.(…) Over the past decade, the foreign entity that has proven to be most successful at advancing its national security interests in the Middle East is Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps-Qods Force under the leadership of Gen. Qassim Soleimani. Reporting directly to the supreme leader, Soleimani has successfully overseen Iran’s campaign of waging a series of proxy wars as a means of weakening, infiltrating and coopting its neighbors, thereby effectively reconstituting the Persian Empire from the Mediterranean to the Chinese border. From Gaza to Lebanon to Syria to Iraq to the Gulf to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Soleimani has fought a decades-long campaign to subvert and gain influence over vast portions of the Middle East, and he has done so while killing and maiming thousands of Americans—perhaps nearly as many as al Qaeda.
    To effectively deter and counter the Qods Force, and to protect American allies and our strategic interests, you need an effective counter to Soleimani and his proxies. You need a man who will report directly to you and to the NSC principals, who will oversee all American sovereign resources (military, intelligence, diplomatic and development aid) across the region and who will have the mandate to develop and execute a comprehensive regional strategy to build our allies’ capacities, counter our enemies, and stabilize the area—by eliminating the paralyzing stovepipes within the U.S. bureaucracy and executing a coherent regional strategy through daily engagement with our allies. (…) In other words, you need a modern-day Gen. Dwight Eisenhower—circa 1938—to help contain and quell separate conflicts in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq before they merge into an all-out regional conflagration and before jihadis orchestrate a second 9/11.(…) “Obama beats up his friends and appeases his enemies,” an enraged regional head of state told me during a recent private meeting. “We feel abandoned and betrayed, and that we can only rely on ourselves,” he lamented. I’ve heard that sentiment echoed countless times by regional royals, elites and other genuine friends of the United States. After decades of American efforts to maintain a regional balance of power and relative stability, your perceived disengagement in the face of the genocide in Syria, for example, has fueled poisonous sectarian hatred and outraged regional leaders, who, while at times maddeningly feckless, have proven to be critical long-term strategic partners. In short, we are the indispensable nation, and one that, for purely selfish reasons, cannot ignore the Middle East any longer.
    After years of trying to fix the Middle East’s problems ourselves, it is imperative that we recognize that we can only play a supporting and unifying role instead. In turn, we should reassume the position that only we can uniquely fill—that of a sort of older and stronger brother to help guide and mediate between the squabbling younger siblings. This recommendation is grounded not in idealism nor a lust for imperialism, but in the cold reality that we have strategic interests to defend in the Middle East that can only be advanced by uniting our local partners, rather than by American boots on the ground or drone strikes. For decades, the United States played a critical role in cajoling feuding regional leaders into cooperating to advance our shared strategic interests, successfully concluding the Camp David Accords between Egypt and Israel, combating transnational jihadi elements through intelligence cooperation with the Gulf monarchies and containing rogue states like Iran and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.
    Through a regional summit, it’s time we explicitly reaffirm our relations with our friends—Israel, Turkey, Jordan, the Gulf states, Egypt and Iraq’s Kurdistan Region—and do everything possible to support them in their existential fight for survival. From the continued sale of advanced American munitions to continued intelligence sharing to much more muscular international diplomatic engagement, our regional allies are yearning for a re-assertive America. And for our fellow Americans tired of underwriting adventures abroad, there is good news: The desire for meaningful U.S. leadership is so great that I’d be willing to bet that our regional allies would agree to reimburse us for our efforts, just as the Saudis did during the first Gulf War or when the Qataris built the CENTCOM Forward Headquarters.
    5. Identify your enemies—and confront them. Thankfully, the list of America’s enemies in the Middle East is actually shorter than its list of friends. At the top of the list is Iran, or the “head of the snake,” as King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia wisely called it in a meeting I attended. Our other foes, not accidentally, are Iran’s top proxies in the region: Iraq’s Shia Islamist militias (who have the blood of thousands of American troops on their hands, and who now constitute an alarming portion of the Iraqi military), Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas, along with al Qaeda and the Islamic State, entities with which Iran has been rumored to clandestinely cooperate to target mutual foes like the United States and its regional allies. The principal danger that the United States faces across the Middle East today is not these groups, however: It’s the perception that we are in retreat and that we will not forcefully move to defend ourselves nor our allies. U.S. foreign policy is the subject of ridicule by our allies and the butt of jokes by increasingly confident foes who, like Syria’s Assad, openly wage genocide with impunity, thereby shredding regional stability by fueling hatreds that are threatening to shatter every country in the area along ethno-sectarian lines. This critically dangerous perception has been fueled by four American missteps: 1) imposing “red lines” on Assad’s use of chemical weapons and not following through with any meaningful response, essentially exposing our bark as worse than our bite; 2) launching the catastrophic war in Iraq only to prematurely “end” it while repeatedly declaring that Iraq is “peaceful, stable and self-reliant” and arming Maliki with advanced American munitions in the face of his blatantly sectarian, divisive and pro-Iranian stance; 3) intervening in Libya to topple Muammar al-Qaddafi without having learned the lessons of Saddam’s removal in 2003—that what happens the day after is critical—eventually resulting in the death of Amb. Christopher Stevens; and 4) not asserting forcefully enough that the United States will support its regional allies in every reasonable way to curtail Iran’s destabilizing regional hegemonic ambitions and its drive toward developing a nuclear weapon. The Middle East today is on the precipice of the abyss of sectarianism and militant radicalism—phenomena that have already begun to erase the borders created a century ago with the Sykes-Picot Agreement. To contain these cancers, prevent a second 9/11 and salvage America’s strategic interests, comprehensive reorientation and bold reforms are needed immediately.

    Ali Khedery is chairman and chief executive of Dragoman Partners, a strategic consultancy headquartered in Dubai. Previously he was an executive with Exxon Mobil Corporation, where he was the architect and chief political negotiator of the company’s entry into the Kurdistan Region. He also worked for the U.S. State and Defense departments, where he served as special assistant to five American ambassadors to Iraq and as senior adviser to three commanders of U.S. Central Command. He was the longest continuously serving American official in Iraq.

    Read more: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/08/5-ways-to-save-the-middle-east-109957.html#ixzz3AgBT5LF8

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