Monday, December 13, 2010

POLITICO editorial overlooks Obama's failures by claiming Israel is similar to North Korea

Op-ed published by POLITICO claims Israel is similar to North Korea, saying Washington 'too paralyzed to control Israel’s political leadership', in opinion piece written by Steve Clemons on Obama’s November loss that weakens the U.S. abroad, Israel is once again set to blame on Obama's failed Mideast and foreign policy approach (a similar claim Opposition Leader Tzipi livni put on Netanyhau's shoulder).

North Korea might be viewed as almost “China’s Israel” — though the comparison is less than complete since this is not a case of two democracies with common interests and there is no influential contingent of North Korean-Chinese in China, in the way that Israel is able to affect the U.S. political machinery. The foreign policy blogger and University of Michigan political scientist Daniel Drezner has also proposed this analogy.

Israel, in ways similar to North Korea’s national profile, depends on Washington’s guarantee of its key economic and strategic circumstances. But unlike North Korea, Israel is no longer the supplicant, and realizes that Washington has decided it must acquiesce to Israel’s recalcitrance on Middle East peace, as well as the evolution of an increasing structural division of Palestinians from Israelis within its borders.

Israel is a democracy, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in no way similar to the dictators Kim Jong Il, but there is a similarly in the confidence both these leaders have that their chief international patrons will support them almost unconditionally. One looking at the situation from outer space would presume that Washington had the power and Israel was followed along. But, in fact, Israel seems to be calling its own shots and Washington is too paralyzed to use the power levers to control Israel’s political leadership.

The same appears increasingly true of North Korea’s relationship to China. North Korea knows that it can be a massive economic and geostrategic headache – worse if it collapses. So it seems to be smartly exploiting this disaster scenario to extort resources not just from China but also from the West.

Beijing seems willing to ignore a great deal of North Korean misbehavior — even attacks like the one recently — to preserve the status quo on the Korean peninsula. Beijing’s latitude in controlling North Korea seems extremely limited — on par with Washington’s frustrating lack of influence on Israel’s behavior.

Robert Danin, who served in the US consulate in Jerusalem, told Ynet the article does not reflect the position of most Americans.

According to him, recent polls show a very high support level for Israel among the American public. However, he added, more and more officials within the US' foreign policy establishment claim Israel receives preferential treatment from Washington.