Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Maintaining the Trust and Confidence of Our Friends

Here's one of Jeb Bush's favorite lines on the stump these days:
Under this administration, we...have lost the trust and confidence of our friends. We definitely no longer inspire fear in our enemies.
That's why it is so jarring to hear this kind of thing from Sen. Marc Rubio:
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio says that if elected president, he would "absolutely" defy stalwart European allies if necessary in order to revoke an Iranian nuclear deal he might inherit from President Barack Obama.
I guess you can at least give Rubio points for acknowledging that the negotiations aren't happening unilaterally between the U.S. and Iran (as Cotton's letter implied). But he's pretty clear that  he's ready to forgo the "trust and confidence of our friends" when it comes to a potential deal.

Of course many people hear a line like that one from Bush and assume that he's really talking about "friend" in the singular rather than plural and that it refers to Israel. That is where the re-election of PM Netanyahu ensures that all of this is going to get increasingly challenging over the next few years.

On the day before the election, Netanyahu declared that there will be "no Palestinian state on my watch." In other words, the long-standing goal of negotiations between Israel and Palestinians towards a two-state solution are over. As Joe Biden would say, "that's a BFD." And not in a good way.

I am reminded of a conversation President Obama had with Jeffrey Goldberg about a year ago.
What we also know is that Israel has become more isolated internationally. We had to stand up in the Security Council in ways that 20 years ago would have involved far more European support, far more support from other parts of the world when it comes to Israel’s position. And that’s a reflection of a genuine sense on the part of a lot of countries out there that this issue continues to fester, is not getting resolved, and that nobody is willing to take the leap to bring it to closure...

I’ve said directly to Prime Minister Netanyahu he has an opportunity to solidify, to lock in, a democratic, Jewish state of Israel that is at peace with its neighbors and...with permanent borders. And has an opportunity also to take advantage of a potential realignment of interests in the region, as many of the Arab countries see a common threat in Iran. The only reason that that potential realignment is not, and potential cooperation is not, more explicit is because of the Palestinian issue...

What I’ve said to him [Netanyahu] privately is the same thing that I say publicly, which is the situation will not improve or resolve itself. This is not a situation where you wait and the problem goes away. There are going to be more Palestinians, not fewer Palestinians, as time goes on. There are going to be more Arab-Israelis, not fewer Arab-Israelis, as time goes on...

I have not yet heard, however, a persuasive vision of how Israel survives as a democracy and a Jewish state at peace with its neighbors in the absence of a peace deal with the Palestinians and a two-state solution. Nobody has presented me a credible scenario.
Netanyahu's rejection of a two-state solution means that - over time - Israel will become even more isolated from the rest of the world. And it remains to be seen how he will maintain any notion of democracy in Israel as the number of Arab-Israelis continues to rise.

What Republicans need to grapple with is if they are willing to lose the "trust and confidence of our friends" around the globe in order to continue to support Netanyahu's increasing recklessness.

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