Monday, May 2, 2011

Eytan Gilboa/ Victory for Obama, Tough for Netanyahu

(Eytan Gilboa-Ynet).There is no doubt that bin Laden's assassination is a great achievement for the US as a nation and for President Obama as a leader and politician, more so on the symbolic, PR front than in terms of practical results on the ground.

During Obama's tenure at the White House, the US lost much of its global stature, mostly in the Middle East. Thus far, Obama failed to realize any objectives earmarked as foreign policy priorities. He is perceived, by enemies and friends alike, as a weak, inexperienced leader who does not know where to lead America.

The doubts regarding his conduct grew in recent months, following his zigzags, contradictory attitude and inexplicable evasions in respect to the Arab world unrest. Now, bin Laden's assassination may grant him an opportunity to restore America's global and regional status and regain its leadership position.

There is no doubt that in the short run, bin Laden's assassination will score Obama many points, boost his approval rating and help him enlist support and resources for his campaign. However, the presidential elections are still far off, and his chances will be determined by the economic situation a year from now as well as the identity of the Republican candidate.

Following the expected improvement in his status both domestically and abroad, Obama can again think about exerting more pressure on Mideastern elements that thus far evaded or thwarted moves which the US wanted to advance. For example, he can boost the pressure on Israel to propose an initiative that would facilitate alks with the Palestinians and avert their plan to seek UN recognition for an independent state. In his upcoming visit to Washington, Netanyahu may find a somewhat tougher president.

Indeed, one dramatic event, the assassination of bin Laden, may hold interesting implications for the US, the world, the Middle East and Israel.

Professor Eytan Gilboa is an expert on US affairs, heads the Center for International Communication, senior researcher at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University