President Obama's craven performance at the UN has both humiliated the United States and made a mockery of what little remains of America's pretensions to the principles of freedom, democracy, fair play, and simple human decency. Like Colin Powell, he made the wrong turn at the “to be” or “to do” fork in the road; he put career and short-term ambition ahead of common sense and personal honor; and ironically, he made the same faustian bargain publicly on the same world stage for all to see. For a men of such great promise to stumble so miserably is not only a personal tragedy of Shakespearian proportions: their pusillanimity under pressure opens the door to unpredictable grand strategic* ramifications that menace the wellbeing of hundreds of millions of people at home and abroad.
Below is one thoughtful observer's exploration of some of these ramifications; there will be other assessments … and very few of them will be pretty.
At least LBJ, who tried to do some things, recognized when his time was over, and left gracefully. But in the Hall of Mirrors that is Versailles on the Potomac at the dawn of the 21st Century, that won't happen again, and Mr. Obama's ultimate disgrace will be to prove that the easy being was far more important than the hard doing when engineering the moral and material decline of a nation.
* The criteria underpinning a sensible grand strategy are explained here.
Port Vendres, France
by Rami G. Khouri
Agence Global, 26 Sep 2011
[CS Note: I reformatted this insightful essay to highlight important points, but did not change any text or the order of presentation]
BOSTON — It remains to be seen what actually changes on the ground in the months ahead following the Palestinian initiative to ask the United Nations to recognize a Palestinian state in the 1967 Israeli-occupied territories as a UN member or observer state. The move could be a substantive gain for the Palestinian people, a symbolic victory only, or a measurable setback if the United States and Israel translate their vindictive rhetoric into hard policies. While we wait for the impact of the UN move to become clearer, we should acknowledge nevertheless that this has been a historic week in several ways.
I.The most important new development that future historians will record is that this last week in September represented the moment when the Arab-Israeli conflict structurally transformed into the Arab-Israeli/American conflict, because of the profound and explicit manner in which the U.S. government has come down on the side of Israel. The United States historically has tried, without much success but with visible endeavor nevertheless, to express its support for Israel’s survival and security while also trying to mediate a resolution of the conflict that sees the birth of a Palestinian state in much of the 1967 occupied lands. That balancing act, unconvincing as it was, is formally dead for now — repeatedly shot in the heart by a firing squad of American politicians who have unleashed volleys of shotguns at the weak and doomed phenomenon that was once called “American mediation”.