As Vice President Biden arrived in Israel this week, word leaked about yet another "peace plan" designed by the Obama administration. There isn't much new in it. According to The Wall Street Journal, the U.S. might support a UN Security Council resolution calling on "both sides to compromise on key issues," and it might involve the Middle East Quartet. Israel would be told to stop building in the territories and recognize East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian State. The Palestinians would be told to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and give up the "right of return" for the original 1948/49 refugees and their descendants.
Just do it and voila! Problem solved.
As Vice President Biden arrived in Israel this week, word leaked about yet another "peace plan" designed by the Obama administration. (Image source: Israel Prime Minister's Office)
Why and why now? Because President Obama is looking at the fires he lit in the Middle East and North Africa, and desperately hoping to salvage something, anything, from the conflagration before he leaves office and needs another job. Israel will be pushed to provide at least one "victory." Consider the list of Administration failures right now and the terrible destruction they have entailed:
In his first foreign visit, President Obama opened the door in Egypt to an uprising not only of "Google people" in Tahrir Square, but also to the Muslim Brotherhood. Brotherhood representatives were front and center at the President's speech in Cairo's Al-Azhar University, to the dismay of longtime ally Hosni Mubarak. After Mubarak's overthrow, the White House pressed for the inclusion of the Brotherhood in Egyptian elections despite its history of terrorism. Since then, the U.S. and Egypt have been unable to find a way to communicate constructively, despite Egypt's increasing closeness to Israel and their joint interest in controlling the terrorist Hamas and Iranian-sponsored jihadis in Sinai.
The Muslim Brotherhood was emboldened in Syria by its successes in Egypt.
The Syrian civil war and the rise of ISIS -- both in some measure precipitated by the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq – have killed upwards of 350,000 people (more than 55,000 in 2015) and displaced nearly 4 million more. Chemical weapons, starvation, beheadings and aerial bombing are weapons of choice by various sides. Russia is calling the shots (literally) in Syria, while Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia continue to fund various jihadi groups, and Iran operates freely in both Iraq and Syria. Hezbollah, despite taking enormous casualties in Syria, continues to add to its missile arsenal in Lebanon.
This is a far cry from 2011, when President Obama announced the U.S. was leaving a "sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq." An Iraqi non-governmental organization estimated that more than 17,000 civilians were killed there in 2014, double the number from the previous year and four times as many as 2012, after the U.S. withdrew its combat forces.
Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey have all been destabilized by an influx of refugees from Syria and Iraq. Lebanon, a fragile country of less than 4.5 million people divided into Shiites, Sunnis, Christians and Druze, now has more than one million Syrian refugees.
Afghanistan was the "good war" in President Obama's narrative. At West Point at the end of 2009, President Obama announced an additional deployment of 30,000 American soldiers to stabilize Afghanistan and nuclear-armed Pakistan. Six years later -- 15 years after we got there -- American military leaders told him the Afghan government still couldn't survive without a continuing American military presence. Since the administration decided to leave a contingent of nearly 10,000 soldiers for an indefinite period of time, the Taliban has refused to continue peace talks with the Afghan government, and we're looking at another bloody summer. Terrorist bombs in Pakistan are a daily occurrence.
Libya was supposed to be a test of our "responsibility to protect." It also had, from the President's point of view, the benefit of "leading from behind" and having "no boots on the ground." After successfully ousting Moammar Gaddafi -- who had turned his WMD program over to US and UK intelligence, kept al-Qaeda from moving from Egypt to Western North Africa, and paid reparations for terrorism -- the U.S. acknowledged as many as 30,000 Libyan deaths in two months of war.
The war in Mali was a direct result of the demise of the Gaddafi government and the raiding of government weapons depots by al-Qaeda-supported Tuareg forces. Only the direct involvement of French troops saved the government there. The deaths of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone S. Woods, and Glen Doherty are attributable to the rise of al-Qaeda there as well. Today, there are as many as 1700 armed gangs across Libya and ISIS controls Sirte, a city of more than 100,000. The Pentagon is drawing up plans for U.S. military action to force ISIS out, we are again bombing Libya and there are American Special Forces on the ground.
Meanwhile, the U.S. bombed an al-Shabaab training base in Somalia this week, killing more than 150 members of the group.
Iran has come closer to nuclear weapons competence in the past eight years. And President Obama's abandonment of dissidents and pro-democracy advocates in Cuba, Venezuela, China, Turkey and Iran paves the way for waves of repression and bloodshed around the world.
The widespread wreckage and carnage that accrues to President Obama's policies and fantasies should disqualify him from further activity on the international stage when his term ends. But since retirement doesn't appear in the offing, he needs to find a "success."
Cue the Middle East "peace process."
Shoshana Bryen is Senior Director of the Jewish Policy Center.