And Avigdor Lieberman, the third major figure in the power struggle, has refused so far to back either one.
Odeh's urging that Rivlin give Blue and White party leader Gantz the first crack at brokering a power-sharing agreement to become prime minister marks the first time since that Arab lawmakers have played a role in coalition talks. But his move against Netanyahu was undermined by a three-member party within the Joint List that stood by the traditional refusal to recommend any major contender for prime minister, leaving Netanyahu with a one-vote edge over Gantz in the effort to accumulate the most recommendations.
There is no other solution. That danger was made clear by the reaction from Lieberman, the head of the right-wing Yisrael Beytenu party and potential kingmaker who snatched victory from Netanyahu after the April 9 election. In short, Lieberman is taking the same position that Arab lawmakers traditionally adopt — he won't recommend anyone.
With that in mind, there are signs that Blue and White leaders might want Rivlin to give Netanyahu the chance to form a government even as Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit proceeds with an effort to indict the prime minister. If Netanyahu fails, Gantz might have a better chance of peeling off some of the religious parties that support Netanyahu, according to Ottolenghi. Beltway Confidential.
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Washington Secrets. Monday October 07, 'He defrauded the American people': Trump calls Foreign Policy. Arab countries have not yet succeeded in fostering the institutional prerequisites of democracy—the give-and-take of parliamentary discourse, protection for minorities, the emancipation of women, a free press, independent courts and universities and trade unions. The absence of a liberal state has been matched by the absence of a liberal economy.
After independence, the prevailing orthodoxy was central planning, often Soviet-inspired. Anti-market, anti-trade, pro-subsidy and pro-regulation, Arab governments strangled their economies. The state pulled the levers of economic power—especially where oil was involved. Privatisation was for pals of the government. Virtually no markets were free, barely any world-class companies developed, and clever Arabs who wanted to excel in business or scholarship had to go to America or Europe to do so. Economic stagnation bred dissatisfaction. Monarchs and presidents-for-life defended themselves with secret police and goons.
The mosque became a source of public services and one of the few places where people could gather and hear speeches. Islam was radicalised and the angry men who loathed their rulers came to hate the Western states that backed them. Meanwhile a vast number of the young grew restless because of unemployment. Thanks to the electronic media, they were increasingly aware that the prospects of their cohort outside the Middle East were far more hopeful. The wonder is not that they took to the streets in the Arab spring, but that they did not do so sooner. These wrongs cannot easily or rapidly be put right.
Outsiders, who have often been drawn to the region as invaders and occupiers, cannot simply stamp out the jihadist cause or impose prosperity and democracy. That much, at least, should be clear after the disastrous invasion and occupation of Iraq in Military support—the supply of drones and of a small number of special forces—may help keep the jihadists in Iraq at bay. That help may have to be on permanent call.
Arab Women in Management and Leadership: Stories from Israel
Even if the new caliphate is unlikely to become a recognisable state, it could for many years produce jihadists able to export terrorism. But only the Arabs can reverse their civilisational decline, and right now there is little hope of that happening. The extremists offer none. In a time of chaos, its appeal is understandable, but repression and stagnation are not the solution. They did not work before; indeed they were at the root of the problem. Even if the Arab awakening is over for the moment, the powerful forces that gave rise to it are still present.
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The social media which stirred up a revolution in attitudes cannot be uninvented. The men in their palaces and their Western backers need to understand that stability requires reform. But today that decision is a source of deep satisfaction for him. And so for me to press the pause button at that moment, I knew, would cost me politically. And the playbook prescribes responses to different events, and these responses tend to be militarized responses.
Where America is directly threatened, the playbook works. But the playbook can also be a trap that can lead to bad decisions. He resented military leaders who believed they could fix any problem if the commander in chief would simply give them what they wanted, and he resented the foreign-policy think-tank complex.
Stories from Israel
A widely held sentiment inside the White House is that many of the most prominent foreign-policy think tanks in Washington are doing the bidding of their Arab and pro-Israel funders. History may record August 30, , as the day Obama prevented the U. I first spoke with obama about foreign policy when he was a U. At the time, I was familiar mainly with the text of a speech he had delivered four years earlier, at a Chicago antiwar rally. It was an unusual speech for an antiwar rally in that it was not antiwar; Obama, who was then an Illinois state senator, argued only against one specific and, at the time, still theoretical, war.
A ruthless man … But I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States or to his neighbors. This speech had made me curious about its author. I wanted to learn how an Illinois state senator, a part-time law professor who spent his days traveling between Chicago and Springfield, had come to a more prescient understanding of the coming quagmire than the most experienced foreign-policy thinkers of his party, including such figures as Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, and John Kerry, not to mention, of course, most Republicans and many foreign-policy analysts and writers, including me.
It involves every single country, and it is a comparatively slow-moving emergency, so there is always something seemingly more urgent on the agenda. Few presidents have faced such diverse tests on the international stage as Obama has, and the challenge for him, as for all presidents, has been to distinguish the merely urgent from the truly important, and to focus on the important.
This article is informed by our recent series of conversations, which took place in the Oval Office; over lunch in his dining room; aboard Air Force One ; and in Kuala Lumpur during his most recent visit to Asia, in November. It is also informed by my previous interviews with him and by his speeches and prolific public ruminations, as well as by conversations with his top foreign-policy and national-security advisers, foreign leaders and their ambassadors in Washington, friends of the president and others who have spoken with him about his policies and decisions, and his adversaries and critics.
But he also has come to learn, he told me, that very little is accomplished in international affairs without U. Obama talked me through this apparent contradiction. One day, over lunch in the Oval Office dining room, I asked the president how he thought his foreign policy might be understood by historians. He started by describing for me a four-box grid representing the main schools of American foreign-policy thought.
One box he called isolationism, which he dismissed out of hand. I told him my impression was that the various traumas of the past seven years have, if anything, intensified his commitment to realist-driven restraint. Had nearly two full terms in the White House soured him on interventionism? If it is possible to do good at a bearable cost, to save lives, we will do it. Though he has so far ruled out the use of direct American power to depose Assad, he was not wrong, he argued, to call on Assad to go. You did not invade. There are going to be times where our security interests conflict with our concerns about human rights.
But he is the rare president who seems at times to resent indispensability, rather than embrace it. Part of his mission as president, Obama explained, is to spur other countries to take action for themselves, rather than wait for the U. The defense of the liberal international order against jihadist terror, Russian adventurism, and Chinese bullying depends in part, he believes, on the willingness of other nations to share the burden with the U. Eisenhower and Richard Nixon.
I asked Obama about retrenchment. But once he decides that a particular challenge represents a direct national-security threat, he has shown a willingness to act unilaterally. This is one of the larger ironies of the Obama presidency: He has relentlessly questioned the efficacy of force, but he has also become the most successful terrorist-hunter in the history of the presidency, one who will hand to his successor a set of tools an accomplished assassin would envy.
One of them is that sometimes you have to take a life to save even more lives.
The ups and downs of Downing Street
We have a similar view of just-war theory. The president requires near-certainty of no collateral damage. Those who speak with Obama about jihadist thought say that he possesses a no-illusions understanding of the forces that drive apocalyptic violence among radical Muslims, but he has been careful about articulating that publicly, out of concern that he will exacerbate anti-Muslim xenophobia.
And yet he consistently, and with apparent sincerity, professes optimism that the world is bending toward justice. He is, in a way, a Hobbesian optimist. The contradictions do not end there.
Netanyahu urges Arab Israelis to work with authorities to curb violence | The Times of Israel
Though he has a reputation for prudence, he has also been eager to question some of the long-standing assumptions undergirding traditional U. He overthrew half a century of bipartisan consensus in order to reestablish ties with Cuba. He questioned why the U. According to Leon Panetta, he has questioned why the U. He is clearly irritated that foreign-policy orthodoxy compels him to treat Saudi Arabia as an ally. The nuclear deal he struck with Iran proves, if nothing else, that Obama is not risk-averse.
It is assumed, at least among his critics, that Obama sought the Iran deal because he has a vision of a historic American-Persian rapprochement. But his desire for the nuclear agreement was born of pessimism as much as it was of optimism. The aim was very simply to make a dangerous country substantially less dangerous.
No one had any expectation that Iran would be a more benign actor. I once mentioned to obama a scene from The Godfather: Part III , in which Michael Corleone complains angrily about his failure to escape the grasp of organized crime. In his first extended spree of fame, as a presidential candidate in , Obama often spoke with hope about the region. The next year, as president, he gave a speech in Cairo meant to reset U. What drew the most attention, though, was his promise to address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which was then thought to be the central animating concern of Arab Muslims.
His sympathy for the Palestinians moved the audience, but complicated his relations with Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister—especially because Obama had also decided to bypass Jerusalem on his first presidential visit to the Middle East. When I asked Obama recently what he had hoped to accomplish with his Cairo reset speech, he said that he had been trying—unsuccessfully, he acknowledged—to persuade Muslims to more closely examine the roots of their unhappiness.
My thought was, I would communicate that the U. Bush, which was characterized in part by the belief that democratic values could be implanted in the Middle East. And these rights include free speech, the freedom of peaceful assembly, the freedom of religion, equality for men and women under the rule of law, and the right to choose your own leaders … Our support for these principles is not a secondary interest.
But over the next three years, as the Arab Spring gave up its early promise, and brutality and dysfunction overwhelmed the Middle East, the president grew disillusioned. Some of his deepest disappointments concern Middle Eastern leaders themselves. Obama has also not had much patience for Netanyahu and other Middle Eastern leaders who question his understanding of the region. I live in the White House. I managed to get elected president of the United States.
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Obama said he had heard that Abdullah had complained to friends in the U. Congress about his leadership, and told the king that if he had complaints, he should raise them directly. The king denied that he had spoken ill of him. Obama did not want to join the fight; he was counseled by Joe Biden and his first-term secretary of defense Robert Gates, among others, to steer clear. Benghazi is a focal point for the opposition regime. The way I looked at it was that it would be our problem if, in fact, complete chaos and civil war broke out in Libya.
But this is not so at the core of U. But what has been a habit over the last several decades in these circumstances is people pushing us to act but then showing an unwillingness to put any skin in the game. But because this is not at the core of our interests, we need to get a UN mandate; we need Europeans and Gulf countries to be actively involved in the coalition; we will apply the military capabilities that are unique to us, but we expect others to carry their weight.
And we worked with our defense teams to ensure that we could execute a strategy without putting boots on the ground and without a long-term military commitment in Libya. We averted large-scale civilian casualties, we prevented what almost surely would have been a prolonged and bloody civil conflict. And despite all that, Libya is a mess. He noted that Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, lost his job the following year. This sort of bragging was fine, Obama said, because it allowed the U. Obama also blamed internal Libyan dynamics. And our ability to have any kind of structure there that we could interact with and start training and start providing resources broke down very quickly.
Libya proved to him that the Middle East was best avoided. President Obama did not come into office preoccupied by the Middle East. For Obama, Asia represents the future. Africa and Latin America, in his view, deserve far more U. Europe, about which he is unromantic, is a source of global stability that requires, to his occasional annoyance, American hand-holding. But by late spring of , after isis took the northern-Iraq city of Mosul, he came to believe that U.
After isis beheaded three American civilians in Syria, it became obvious to Obama that defeating the group was of more immediate urgency to the U. Advisers recall that Obama would cite a pivotal moment in The Dark Knight , the Batman movie, to help explain not only how he understood the role of isis , but how he understood the larger ecosystem in which it grew.
They were thugs, but there was a kind of order. Everyone had his turf. And then the Joker comes in and lights the whole city on fire. It has the capacity to set the whole region on fire. The ballroom was crowded with Asian CEOs, American business leaders, and government officials from across the region. Obama, who was greeted warmly, first delivered informal remarks from behind a podium, mainly about the threat of climate change.
Obama made no mention of the subject preoccupying much of the rest of the world—the isis attacks in Paris five days earlier, which had killed people. Obama had arrived in Manila the day before from a G20 summit held in Antalya, Turkey. The Paris attacks had been a main topic of conversation in Antalya, where Obama held a particularly contentious press conference on the subject.
As the questions unspooled, Obama became progressively more irritated. Republican governors and presidential candidates had suddenly taken to demanding that the United States block Syrian refugees from coming to America. Ted Cruz had proposed accepting only Christian Syrians. This rhetoric appeared to frustrate Obama immensely. Air Force One departed Antalya and arrived 10 hours later in Manila.
She toggled between the two, looking for the mean, she told people on the trip. Later, the president would say that he had failed to fully appreciate the fear many Americans were experiencing about the possibility of a Paris-style attack in the U. Great distance, a frantic schedule, and the jet-lag haze that envelops a globe-spanning presidential trip were working against him. But he has never believed that terrorism poses a threat to America commensurate with the fear it generates. Even during the period in when isis was executing its American captives in Syria, his emotions were in check.
Obama frequently reminds his staff that terrorism takes far fewer lives in America than handguns, car accidents, and falls in bathtubs do. John Kerry, for one, seems more alarmed about isis than the president does. Recently, when I asked the secretary of state a general question—is the Middle East still important to the U.