Monday, March 03, 2014

Constant training exercises and the International Fallout of Doom

Obama is interviewed by Jeffrey Goldberg of Bloomberg News.

On Israel-Palestinian negotiations: “There comes a point where you can’t manage this anymore, and then you start having to make very difficult choices. Do you resign yourself to what amounts to a permanent occupation of the West Bank? Is that the character of Israel as a state for a long period of time?” It’s been 47 years, and he thinks that Israel is discomfited by the thought of permanent occupation?

“Do you place restrictions on Arab-Israelis in ways that run counter to Israel’s traditions?” Well, Netanyahu again today demanded that Palestinians recognize Israel as a “Jewish state,” so um, yeah.

Asked whether Iran takes seriously Obama’s threats over their nuclear program: “We have a high degree of confidence that when they look at 35,000 U.S. military personnel in the region that are engaged in constant training exercises under the direction of a president who already has shown himself willing to take military action in the past, that they should take my statements seriously. And the American people should as well, and the Israelis should as well, and the Saudis should as well.” Constant training exercises, people! Be afraid, be very afraid!

Okay, nobody believes the US is going to invade Iran, so this is just another case of Obama, as Gene Weingarten put it on Twitter, rattling Nerf sabres. But he did just threaten to invade Iran unless he gets his way so, um, that happened.

He says he opposes Congressional attempts to impose new sanctions on Iran because there are always little pauses in negotiations: “Even in the old Westerns or gangster movies, right, everyone puts their gun down just for a second. You sit down, you have a conversation; if the conversation doesn’t go well, you leave the room and everybody knows what’s going to happen and everybody gets ready. But you don’t start shooting in the middle of the room during the course of negotiations.” Nothing says negotiating in good faith like references to Gunfight at the O.K. Corral fantasies.

On Israeli settlement activity: “The U.S. commitment to Israel’s security is not subject to periodic policy differences.” Wow, good poker face there, Barack.

So what can he threaten Israel with? “if you see no peace deal and continued aggressive settlement construction -- and we have seen more aggressive settlement construction over the last couple years than we’ve seen in a very long time -- if Palestinians come to believe that the possibility of a contiguous sovereign Palestinian state is no longer within reach, then our ability to manage the international fallout is going to be limited.” So he’s threatening Israel with... international fallout. Is that anything like the “costs” he’s threatening Russia with? And notice he’s saying he’ll still try to manage that international fallout and protect Israel from the consequences of doing things he doesn’t want it to do.

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