Secretary of State John Kerry’s first stop after the Syria WMD deal? Israel.
It was a strange move when trying to move an agreement that is controversial in Saudi Arabia and Qatar, but meets with shrugs in Israel. The last place you want to move a policy that is controversial in the Muslim world is in Israel.
Most American diplomats don’t know a whole lot. But they know that much.
“This will only be as effective as its implementation,” Mr. Kerry said in a joint news conference with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel. “The threat of force is real.”
Mr. Kerry traveled to Jerusalem as the first stop in a series of meetings with allies to assure support for the chemical weapons deal, which was completed on Saturday in Geneva. After conferring with Mr. Netanyahu, Mr. Kerry left for Paris for another meeting with close allies. On Monday, he plans to meet with the foreign ministers of France, Britain, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
Normally Kerry would head to Saudi Arabia to reassure them first. And let them handle the rest of the GCC. Then he might meet with Erdogan in Turkey.
But suddenly Kerry is acting the way AIPAC-runs-DC conspiracists expect him to.
This can be put down to Kerry’s incompetence. Netanyahu has given in to any number of demands from Obama Inc., including freeing terrorists with blood on their hands. It was reasonable to assume that he would be a soft touch. The end result would look like Israel and America struck a deal to sacrifice the Syrian rebels while protecting Israel.
And maybe that’s exactly what it’s supposed to look like.
Let’s backtrack a little.
Obama was uneasily moving around a red line that he wasn’t eager about conceding. He played with bombing Syria. Took the question to Congress. Found no support there. Then seized on a Russian proposal in response to a Kerry remark that wasn’t meant seriously.
All this is playing badly. Everywhere.
The whole mess needs a fall guy and it isn’t going to be Obama. The media has been playing up the Israel angle lately. Obama initially used the pretext of protecting allies like Israel for his proposed strike. Now a WMD deal is being linked to Israel… even though Israel had nothing to do with it.
If someone has to go down for this, why not Israel? Instead of looking like an incompetent buffoon, Obama looks like he’s doing what the Israelis want, even if the Israelis sound confused and uncertain about the whole thing. It’s not that much of an image improvement here, but it makes a strange kind of sense.
Instead of just being clueless, Obama can blame the “Jewish Lobby”. There isn’t an absence of a plan. He’s just pandering to Israel. In the Muslim world, that’s a default assumption anyway. Obama may still look weak, but less weak than he would otherwise. Instead of just being inept and shiftless, he’s being maneuvered by Israel. The Muslim world can hate it, but respect it. So can the foreign policy wonks.
And when the whole thing goes to pieces, the blame won’t go to Obama’s foreign policy, but to Israeli control over Obama. Israel will get blamed for “distorting” American foreign policy. It’s not the first time that card has been played, but it’s being played shamelessly now.
Netanyahu is clearly unenthusiastic about being used for Kerry’s photo-op. All the more so because he’ll be told that a favor is being done for him that he’s going to have to pay back with more concessions to terrorists.
Meanwhile Kerry is trying to sell a bad deal to the Muslim world as the result of Israeli, rather than Russian pressure, because they can become Russian clients if they choose the stronger horse, but not Israeli clients.