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U.S. Middle East Policy
Malice or Incompetence?

John Kerry’s ceasefire proposal for Gaza has probably destroyed what remained of the United States’ influence in the Middle East, at least for the duration of this administration’s tenure.

Published on: July 29, 2014
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  • bigfire

    Quoting his illustrious predecessor Hilary Clinton: At this point, what differences does it make?

    • James Price

      It makes no difference, since the Arab side rejects the state of Israel defined by ANY borders.

  • Curious Mayhem

    A little bit of this, a little bit of that … and you have an historic fiasco. Thanks, John!

    Most American influence and leverage in the Middle East was already gone anyway. This is just confirmation. BTW, Kerry isn’t really a secretary of state. He’s more like Obama’s personal representative. That should tell you something. Corollary: we currently don’t have a secretary of state.

  • Boritz

    John Kerry goes into a bar. &nbspThe bartender says Why the long face?

    • Breif2

      Can you blame him? Instead of horsing around the Senate, the ninny has been saddled with with all those Middle-Eastern nay-sayers.

    • NoMoreLies1

      Obama of La Mancha and his loyal sidekick Sancho Kerry.

  • Brad_Brzezinski

    I believe you are incorrect about the “accelerating land grabs.” According to the late Barry Rubin, additional homes beyond the Green Line are within boundaries that have been fixed since Oslo. They reinforce Jewish presence within those boundaries (this is about where Jews may live after all) but do not reduce land available for the new Palestine. What is suspicious is the use of these new homes as an excuse to not negotiate; this was taken up by the P.A. but encouraged by President Obama himself. If the land available was shrinking AND the P.A. desire was for a state as soon as possible, they would be hell-bent on negotiation.

    I’d like to see the real facts see the light of day, which seems impossible in today’s reporting climate.

  • Breif2

    On the matter of The Obama Administration versus A Sane Foreign Policy, the defense will now make its opening statement:

    “Your honour, my clients have most definitely not been acting out of malice; rather, I ask the court to believe that they have been singularly incompetent.”

    As a defense, that’s right up there with “I shot the sheriff, but I did not shoot his deputy”.

    Managing in one stroke to piss off three of the foremost powers of the region (Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia) around whom we have built our policy for decades (and even pissing off the “Palestinian Authority”, when we are ostensibly attempting to help Palestinian Arabs) is so incompetent as to defy belief.

    Now I, kind soul that I am, am employing the expression “defy belief” rhetorically, but I can hardly blame others who take it literally.

    (By the way, I do not argue with your describing as conspiracy theorists those who claim that Obama is a closet Muslim or interested in harming the US or Israel. But it seems to me very valid to conclude that this Administration considers the Muslim Brotherhood and its siblings as rational actors whom we can reach a separate peace with.)

    • Duperray

      Obama behaves exactly in accordance with requirements of his religion, even if not publicized.

    • kenspiker

      Remember that Obama sat for 20 years at the feet of Rev. Jeremiah Wright who was best buds with Louis Farrakhan, one of our foremost anti-Semites.

    • EllenO

      Given the healthy sprinkling of Muslim Brotherhood members working in the Obama administration conspiratorial as it sounds it is not beyond the bounds of reason that there is a Muslim Brotherhood sympathy starting at the top of the administration.

  • f1b0nacc1

    I believe that you are being far too generous to the current administration. Ask yourself a simple question, “What would this administration do differently if it were actively anti-Israel?”

    • Duperray

      This administrtaion is anti-Israel and anti-US

    • Only a totalitarian would ask such a question

  • hunt

    The answer to your question is, the U.S. would vote in favor of the next U.N. security council resolution condemning Israel’s actions, and stop providing political cover for Israel with the rest of the international community. That would be an anti-Israeli, pro-U.S. action.

  • Great piece, except: “the fact that recent Israeli governments, by accelerating land grabs in the West Bank…” The fact is that for over ten years, the settlements have NOT expanded outside, i.e. there were no “land grabs” http://warped-mirror.com/2012/04/10/the-ever-growing-settlements/

    • James Price

      Grabbing land or, equivalently, occupying land is habit forming. Jews have been occupying The Occupied Territories for more than 3,000 years. The term for that is indigenous not illegal occupier.

  • qet

    Garfinkle has me right up until the point at which he allocated significant responsibility to the US. Garfinkle goes back in history only as far as the prior Administration. For all of its influence in the region, the US has not produced a settlement in the 50+ years this conflict has been going on. It seemed quite clear to me that long before Hamas, Arafat had no real desire to ink a settlement because that would have instantly reduced him from a celebrity, a rock star, to just another petty tyrant in just another Middle East nation who probably would not have survived assassination for more than a few months. Even Clinton eventually realized that Arafat had no intention ever of concluding a peace.

    It is true that the US has a significant interest in peace between Israel and the Palestinians, but not nearly so significant as the Palestinians’ interest. When the Palestinians want peace, they will have peace. It is that simple.

    • wbilct

      All they have to do is haul water and cut wood for the Israelis

      • Chadnis

        No, they just need to accept the existence of Israel, stop lobbing missiles there, stop sacrificing their children in the name of revenge and disconnect themselves from terrorist organizations. The only thing standing in the way of a Palestinian State is the Palestinians….

        • wbilct

          “The only thing standing in the way of a Palestinian State is” “Israel and the Iron Wall”

          • Chadnis

            Would you negotiate with terrorists that call for the destruction of your country? Of course not. Would you defend yourself when rockets are launched into your country? Of course you would. If you ceded some territory to a group with a grievance, and then that group elected a terrorist organization that then used that territory you just ceded to them to launch military attacks, WTF would you do?

          • wbilct

            Begin went from being a terrorist to prime minister. So why couldn’t Meshaal?

          • Justwaitinforchange

            you are arguing with an idiot – don’t waste your time.

          • jbirdme

            In 2008, Israel offered the Palestinians 95% of Judea and Samaria, with land swaps for the remaining 5%. The Palestinians turned them down cold, insisting on full withdrawl of Israel to the 1949 armistice lines, and insisting on a Palestinian right of return, not to the new Palestinian state, but to Israel. This 5% and the right of return is what the Palestinians are fighting and dying for.

          • wbilct

            Hey, you really know your stuff. You’ve got your Hasbara gig down cold !!!!

  • Fat_Man

    “Malice or Incompetence?”

    No. False choice.

    Malice and Incompetence.

    • Corlyss

      Took the words . . .
      Watching Doofus and his psychic twin, Dumbbell, flounder around in the cesspool of Mideast strategy fills me with gratitude that at least the American voter was too smart to elect Dumbbell as president. Someone should tell ’em both that Double-Down is not working in either foreign or domestic policy.

    • adk

      It’s actually malice, executed incompetently.

      • LDRider

        No, no, no… incompetence. Malice would require forethought, a plan of action, structure, and an idea about what is to be accomplished. This Administration has proven itself unable to do any of these.

        • adk

          Definition of malice:
          — (law), a legal term describing the intent to harm

          — bad will or the desire to do bad things to another person. An example of malice is when you hate someone and want to seek revenge.

          — desire to inflict injury, harm, or suffering on another, either because of a hostile impulse or out of deep-seated meanness.

          So, a plan of action, forethought, etc. are not necessarily required. One can do malice either intelligently or stupidly, and the latter is what this administration has been doing. Kerry has just exceeded their usual level in a very public and personal way – that was probably the reason for the leak from the WH to Ignatius.

          • bigmaq1980

            One cannot prove malice by this act alone.

            What other acts or words from Kerry can we point to which demonstrate he has some motivation to behave this way?

      • travlr009

        you got it right

  • “Now, there are a lot of people who wrongly believe that the Obama Administration, not to exclude the President himself, is resolutely anti-Israel and pro-Muslim Brotherhood.”
    One has to be careful before one criticizes this President in this day an age of political correctness run amuck.
    Obama has seen fit to lecture Israel regularly while cozying up to the Mullahs wherever he can. He bullies the friends of the US and cavorts with its enemies. Read your own article and see if you can find this thread of thought running throughout.
    If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, perhaps it is a duck.

    • azt24

      This particular pro-Muslim Brotherhood duck has been quacking ever since Obama gave Mubarak the bum’s rush.

    • LarryD

      “Now, there are a lot of people who wrongly believe that the Obama
      Administration, not to exclude the President himself, is resolutely
      anti-Israel and pro-Muslim Brotherhood.”

      Including, apparently, the IRS. Hat tip toBetsy Newman:

      “… not only does the IRS have a partisan streak, it also has a foreign
      policy. We see this in the case of Z Street, a non-profit that seeks to
      inform people about issues relating to Israel. So, for their own
      reasons, the IRS delayed its application for tax exempt status because
      they were ‘giving special scrutiny to groups whose missions might
      conflict with Administration policies
      .’ Sound a bit shifty to you? Of
      course. And so Z Street sued for viewpoint discrimination and the House
      Ways and Means Committee has obtained emails to demonstrate how the IRS
      was regarding a pro-Israel group with suspicion.”

      So, if a pro-Israel groups mission “might conflict with Administration policies”, then Administration policies can’t be pro-Israel, can they? In fact, the best they can be is neutral.

  • David Heller

    I vote for malice.

    The Obama administration has been getting a free-ride on the incompetence excuse for far too long.

    After awhile, continued incompetence becomes malice.

    • Clark’s Law: “A sufficiently advanced level of incompetence becomes functionally indistinguishable from malice”.

    • Michael

      Obama incompetence? jew fight the same war for 60 years and they can’t bring themselves to find a solution and it is obama that is incompetent? Nice. Once Iran gets nukes, they will give them to Hamas and they the real fun begin. More than just women and kids.

      • Justwaitinforchange

        listen goof ball – the Israeli’s could take care of Gaza tomorrow. And if Iran was stupid enough to give this weapon to Hamas – Tehran and the surrounding areas will be a glass parking lot – you fool.

        BTW Obama is incompetent.

      • toumanbeg

        Actually there is a solution. It’s called genocide. NO ONE wants to go there. At least no one on this side of the hill. Muslims, yes, if they could. Will of Allah, you know.
        I have a solution that falls short of genocide. Use genetic manipulation to create a gender specific Mumps virus. it only attacks the “Y” chromosome. Then spray the Islamic crescent. Only females will then be born. That will destroy Islam without killing a single human. It will take 40 to 60 years but Islam has been at war with the rest of the world for 1400+ years. What is a few decades to resolve the issue once and for all.

  • Neither malice in the emotional sense nor incompetence in the personal sense. More like an environmental malaise of the American elites, particularly Democrats, particularly of this last generation, that makes them incapable of understanding the nature of power in international relations.

  • Y.K.

    You should look up the transcript of the Obama-Nethanyahu call as posted by channel 1 [1]. While at it, look up Kerry’s earlier proposal. What you are realliy reading about is the death of the Israeli ‘peace camp’ (on life support in vegetative state after the 2nd Intifadah and 2nd Lebanon war anyhow). The sole remaining argument of the Israeli Left was the appeal to the ‘international community’ and that the US would help Israel if things go sour after ‘being cooperative’.

    No longer. After such a craven betrayal (and that’s exactly how many Israelis are seeing the recent American manoeuvres, look at how for example Barak Ravid (!) and Ha’aretz characterized Kerry’s offer), there’s no longer any reason to even bother. And if Hamas gets away with _any_ achievements this round (something Obama/Kerry seem determined to do), Palestinians won’t think they have any reason either. This means the regular two-state will die by the end of this fight, assuming it wasn’t dead already.


    (In fairness, the transcript is denied by both sides, but the point stands regardless: many Israelis will believe this, and there are enough other events to make this perception stick regardless)

    • Breif2

      I reserve judgement on the veracity of this shocking transcript, but note that the generally highly-respected journalist claims it was leaked to him by a “senior American official”. Returning to this post,

      Who—in the White House would be my guess—provided Ignatius his catalysts I’d rather not speculate about; suffice it to say that competitive intra-administration leaking, that venerable Washington political sport, is alive and well

      • azt24

        At a pure guess, I would expect the leaker to be a senior State Department foreign service official. I have heard the foreign service is horrified by the mixture of anti-Americanism and incompetence shown by this administration.

    • Peter

      Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

    • PDX_traveler

      If indeed “many Israelis will believe this”, it only confirms that this is what they want to believe. And in such a situation, any argument or reasoning is superfluous.

  • Dave Boz

    Bernard Lewis said it best: America is harmless as an enemy and treacherous as a friend.

    • Breif2

      I am often reminded of the famous Bernard Lewis quote (which he attributed to a Turkish general): ‘The problem with having the Americans as your allies is that you never know when they’ll turn around and stab themselves in the back’.

      • azt24

        Never was a truer word spoken. Where does being “wildly wrongheaded” end and outright malice begin? John FN Kerry is a man who began his public career by committing treason against American interests. It seems only fitting that he should end it the same way.

        • andrewp111

          What are the American interests here? All we are observing is ideology in action. Nothing more, nothing less.

    • Michael

      treacherous as a friend huh? How do you think those dumb suckers ever get the weapons to fight for 60 years? 60 years without a hint of solution. Let give them both nukes.

  • Anthony

    One of those days: “Barack Obama is not the enemy. One can argue about the degree of sophistication the President has displayed during the current crisis, but there is no reason to doubt his friendship and desire to bring an end to this round of violence.” (Haaretz – July 29, 2014)

    Question is not John Kerry or Obama administration (any American administration guarantees to support Israel existence but other geopolitical forces preclude…) but where all this ends. “Many have argued (most of my life) that the Arab-Israeli conflict is inherently insolvable. For the Palestinians, the original crime was the migration into the Palestinian Mandate by Jews, the creation of the State of Israel and the expulsion of Arabs from the state. For Israel, the original sin came after the 1967 War, during which Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza, the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem.” So, here we are: war without a military outcome (not really an issue of malice or competence).

    • Breif2

      It is significant that Haaretz, the Israeli newspaper which makes the NYT seem like Fox, finds it necessary to defend the Administration against the charge of malice (as in Anthony’s quote), but took the remarkable step of blasting Kerry for counterproductive incompetence. If you’ve lost Haaretz, …

      (Anthony, the way you quoted Stratfor is misleading. The quote continues: “At that moment, the Israelis were prepared to discuss a deal, but the Arabs announced their famous ‘three nos’ at a meeting in Khartoum: no negotiation, no recognition, no peace.” He is clearly balancing both sides. By leaving this out, you either render his position incoherent or misrepresent his position as being anti-Israel.)

      • Anthony

        NO, no, no. Friedman’s quote is not misleading and used as context for Garfinkle’s essay. The paragraph you highlight is part of section on war without military outcome. My purpose is “their are no quick answers”.

        • Breif2

          [People not named Anthony can profitably skip this.]

          I understood that your point was that there are no easy solutions, and I was not criticizing it but rather what I considered and still consider unintentionally misleading editing on your part.

          Your attempt at brevity reminds me of the quote: “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.” What your prematurely terminating quote in effect says is: “What started the whole mess? On the one hand, it could be the Jewish invasion that resulted in the creation of Israel, as the Palestinians claim. On the other hand, from an Israeli perspective, it could be the Israeli aggression in 1967, in which they occupied a bunch of territory.”

          If all I have is the quote as you provided it, then as incoherent as it may be, there is no other way to interpret it. I do not believe that this is what you meant to convey, and that is why I was sufficiently surprised to search for the original. And indeed, the added sentence makes the argument much more sensible; in effect: “The Palestinians claim everything started with the Jews usurping their land, and Israel claims the problem is that the Arabs refused any land-for-peace deal after 1967.”

          Since you had read the original, it was obvious to you what was meant, and you did not wish to overburden us with overly long quotes. But in this case, your familiarity with the original led you to overly abbreviate.

          • Anthony

            You’re absolutely correct and my first intention was to use entire quote. I should have considering WRM’s perceptive readers and sensitivity of subject matter. Thanks for critique.

          • Breif2

            No matter the sensitivity of the subject matter and the debates roiling the comments sections, it is a given that Anthony will be reasonable and civil. Cheers.

          • Anthony

            Thanks again but I cannot dismiss both sharp eye and sharp mind. (complete quote has been added).

    • Y.K.

      Ha’aretz has been moving more and more in the ‘blasting Kerry and Obama’ direction. Imagine someone writing in the Nation that Obama “is a dangerous socialist driving the nation into Marxism” to understand how extraordinary that is.

      See for example this cartoon Ha’aretz is running (no need for Hebrew here):


      • Anthony

        I have respect for language and respect for fact – information is taken in appreciation of purveyor. Thanks.

  • joseph spiezer

    Mediators, who don’t understand the process, achieve an agreement by pressuring the side they perceive to be weakest. The only way to fight back against that sort of mediator is to appear to be strongest by refusing to compromise. I think Israel is getting the picture. The important concept is BATNA (best alternative to a negotiated agreement). That, for Israel, is the continued destruction of Hamas. The problem with reaching an agreement with Abbas he has to deal with many constituencies and his sole goal seems to be to remain in power. He has become extraordinarily wealthy, as have his sons, while he is in his current position. Why would he be interested in free and fair elections which may not only remove him from power, but may result in a prison sentence? The result is that he will talk about agreements to some, praise murderers to some, and silence the rest.

  • Peter

    Settlements were never the issue. They were never an issue for Arafat and it was Obama who made them an issue for Abbas. Abbas was livid when Obama publicly asked for a settlement freeze; livid because he (Abbas) could not afford to appear to be less Palestinian than Obama, thus forcing Abbas to make settlements an issue. Everyone has always known what “settlements” would remain part of Israel and what areas would go to the Palestinians. Furthermore, arguing in the alternative, even if Israel was making a land grab, doesn’t it have the right to? The land is disputed territory, not “occupied territory,” as there has never previously existed a Palestinian state. And if the Palestinians keep refusing peace offers, as they did in 1948, ’67, 2000, and 2008, why shouldn’t Israel develop the land?

    • Chadnis

      I don’t disagree with your last point, but your made-up “fact” that “settlements were never an issue for Palestinians before Obama made it one” is patently false. That has been part of the uproar all along, it figured prominently when Bill Clinton tried his last-ditch effort in 2000. There are many legitimate criticisms of Obama, that is not one of them.

      • NoMoreLies1

        Peter is right and you are wrong. Both the Palestinians and the Israelis had pretty much settled which portions would stay under Israeli sovereignty and which would go as part of a Palestinian State.
        Obama gave a speech in Cairo which like poking a stick to a beehive caused a diplomatic disaster.
        How cold Abu Mazen be less than Obama in rejecting Israeli sovereignty over certain areas.?
        This caused him to become intransigent and use this as an excuse to stall negotiations.

  • andrewp111

    Virtually every non-Jewish Democrat is pro-Palestinian and anti Israel. Obama himself told us in one of his famous books (that almost no one read) that “he would side with the Muslims”. The ideology of the non-Jewish Democratic Base is clear and unmistakable. Even a lot of Jewish liberals are pro-Palestinian if they don’t have to live in Israel. Ideology provides a guiding principle to actions that makes the response to any event perfectly predictable – like a knee-jerk reaction. No one should be surprised by the Obama Administration’s position or actions regarding this Israel-Gaza war. It is not incompetence or malice – just ideology.

    • Actually rigid “ideology” can lead to astonishing incompetence just fine if the ideology is divorced from the real world

    • Michael

      taking sides again. I say give both sides nukes and stand back. When one side use nukes they are so close geographically as the other side will also suffer major damage. Maybe in another 25 years they both will have nukes. I

  • There was no ‘peace process’ this year, what ARE you talking about? A ‘peace process’ or ‘negotiations’ REQUIRES both sides to talk to each other. One side talking and the US delivering Israel’s demands, is not a ‘peace process’.

    • trytoseeitmyway

      Enter the real world, please.

      • Lol. So a real ‘peace process’ does not involve two sides negotiating with each other……then what on Earth does it?

        • trytoseeitmyway

          Enter the real world, I said. That wasn’t intended to be a comment what the word negotiation means. If you couldn’t figure that out, you’re even less in touch with reality than I was assuming.

  • Packard27

    This administration has always displayed a peculiar affinity for the Islamic world and the followers of the religion of peace and love.

    Nevertheless, it is still delicious irony to know that 70% of American Jews twice voted to empower the current President and his “unique” foreign policies.

    “Mundus vult decipi, ergo decipiatur”…ehh?

    • Michael

      At some point someone needs to point out to the jews that it is better to make agreement when you have a major advantage than when you are forced to make agreements. Their military situation versus the other side is worst than it ever was. 2600 rockets fired today, what tomorrow? I think we all know this is headed to nukes and since they are both small countries one nuke will wipe them all out. That area is destined to sustain a nuke explosion.

  • rene591

    see map of USA . our problem. map of world . not our problem. let me be perfectly clear. this nation is non interventionist and socially libertarian and we hope the parties can affect reconciliation. but if they do not oh well not our problem. and the more we move in budget issues the parties better understand that even sacred cows can be slaughtered

    • Michael

      I agree. We give monies to all these little countries and they all act like they don’t need us to tell them what to do. I would begin by cutting the funding for all these waring tribes by fifty percent. Then move to cut funding every year until we have a peace agreement. As long as you arm one side there will never be peace. You mention that no country could accept such a document but they can accept the monies from that country. All those countries in the middle east are losers with their hands out so they can use religion to justify killing women and kids. You notice how the women and kids are the first to go.

  • Mriordon

    Just one of those days, I guess, when another know it all college professor ruminates on what everybody has done wrong without saying what is the right thing to do. He gives plenty of hints though- he doesn’t agree with this guy or that guy very much, he doesn’t like this other guy at all, but a couple of these guys were right today but will probably be wrong tomorrow. I don’t know why all you imbecile editorial writers won’t just admit that you don’t know anything. When you start going home to your nice house in the suburbs and people start firing rockets at your house and your family is up all night worrying about people emerging from a tunnel in your basement to rape your women and kill everyone, get back to me with your smarmy opinions..

  • Steve Rodriguez

    Exactly – Bush’s fault because he relied upon democracy and freedom, which does not work in Arab, Persian, islamic culture. However, the author is silly to blame the current crisis on Bush. Hamas gaining control of Gaza was curtailed by Mubarak’s Egypt – which was sold down the river by Obama. In every circumstance, Obama has emboldened islamic enemies at the expense of America. Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya. Bush at least attempted to roll back the terror groups, but erred by not exterminating most of the population and installing a NEW dictator, but one WE controlled, in post-victory Iraq. Gone are the good old days of our dictators, funny how that maintained order which protected and kept Americans SAFE!

  • KennesawJack

    Obamarx is a bully and Kerry is a buffoon so you have a toxic mix of malice and incompetence.

  • Dracovert

    Malice drives incompetence. All psychopaths are maleficent, and are pathological liars, inefficient, incompetent, and corrupt. Only the few psychopath enablers (Reid, Pelosi) in the leadership of the Democratic Party bother to try to conceal their psychopathic agenda now. Look how much the USA has declined under the Democrats. If you want to see the direction we are going, look at the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

  • wbilct

    The more comments I read, the more I’m becoming pro Obama!!!

    • Mittymo


      We couldn’t get you to turn away from Obama even it was disclosed he was a predatory, serial killer like John Wayne Gacy (who was also an ardent Democrat).

      Your President of choice is likely an anti-Semite.


      • rene591

        because we question what our tax dollars are being used for? me thinks you spend like a drunken sailor

    • moderate Guy

      There are degrees of stupidity??? Imagine that.

  • EM10

    Nothing like “smart power” by the smartest man ever to be President.

  • trytoseeitmyway

    Incompetence and malice are not mutually exclusive qualities; it is possible to be both.

    • moderate Guy

      Indeed incompetents Obama, Kerry, Hillary C usually are malicious, because that is one of the few ways they can hide their incompetence.

  • Mittymo

    If the Palestinians truly wanted peace, they would arrest Hamas & turn that gang of thugs & their sophisticated weapons over to Israel. Next, they would invite an Israeli demolition team into Gaza, ensure their safety while they worked, & allow them to blow-up & completely destroy Hamas’s sophisticated tunnel system.

    But they won’t, because they don’t want to. They only protest the deaths & destruction in order to aid in Hamas’s pursuit of the destruction of Israel.

    Given a choice between Hamas’s continued attacks on Israel & the death of their children & destruction of their infrastructure, they would choose Hamas everytime.

    Those sophiticated tunnels & weapons cost a small fortune. Why didn’t the people of Gaza insist that the money go into building roads, schools, public utilities, etc. It’s because they would rather see the money spent on the effort to destroy Israel.

  • T bone

    Malice or incompetence? Yes….and yes.

  • Dick Fox

    Incompetence or malice? Good question .. not only for this problem but for the entire Obama reign.

  • James Price

    I concur with the diagnosis of incompetence, but still see malice towards Israel by Obama et al., beginning with their first meeting in the White House, where Netanyahu was compelled to use the service entrance (read: back of the bus).

  • Mahon1

    I wouldn’t call it incompetence. An incompetent person at least knows what he is trying to do – he just doesn’t have the skill to do it. He has some idea, however deluded, of strategy and agency and how to get from here to there. Kerry is just a doofus. He is expressing a repertoire of gestures that he has seen other people use in other circumstances, and doesn’t see why they shouldn’t work for him.

  • moderate Guy

    Perhaps it IS correct to say that Bimbo Johnny is too stupid to have chosen an actual intellectual stance, and therefore shows bias, for or against Israel. But in his inane and childish pursuit of “peace at any price” he has done as badly as if he had one.
    Yes, this pathetic childishness is not his alone, the entire Obama “administration” is composed of mental juveniles treasuring sophomoric view of the world; yes, terrorists are much better at seizing the PR initiative whenever civilized world exhibits such execrable childishness; but none of it can excuse the real world damage Bimbo Johnny did to the cause of civilization in it’s endless struggle with barbarism.

  • I’ll be glad when Bush is not blamed for every Obama administration problem. Guess we know who this writer voted for in 2012. Hint, it wasn’t Romney !

  • hanekhw

    A 180 degree change in a long term policy reaffirmed by many, many U.S. Administrations is not explained away as just the result of poor, even irrational decisions by the Obama Administration. I believe that the decisions were highly rational and a direct result of allying themselves for personal gain with the supporters of Islamic extremism.
    I say follow the money. The interest of the elite few outweigh the interest of the many.

  • Glennito

    The election of Hamas in 2006 in the West Bank provided a nice unintended consequence: after a nasty fracas with the PA, Hamas ended up ruling Gaza, and Gaza alone. There they can be segregated, isolated, and pruned back, as needed. Better there than in the West Bank.

  • jschmidt2

    I was with you until you blamed it on Bush. that excuse is way overused and masks the incompetence of Obama, Kerry and Clinton who did nothing to improve things in the ME. if you want to blame it on the past, then the Brits have a part of the blame for devising the borders.

  • William Ockham

    Let’s ask the old question. How did this guy get in Yale?

  • Gregson14

    The naivety of this President in Foreign Affairs is Breathtaking – Obama’s legacy will forever be known as the President who not only lost the Middle East, but the man who stood by and watched while Oppression ran rampant!…

    First there was Iran – then there was Egypt, Libya and Syria – a short few months ago there was the Ukraine!… All Presidential strategic failures of the highest order; issues that Obama seemingly treats as “minor distractions…”. And now Obama has effectively handed Iraq back to a hybrid militarized version of Al Qaeda which he claimed to be decimated in his 2012 Campaign (… just another politically expedient lie) due to his failure and unwillingness to negotiate a Status of Forces Agreement with Maliki in 2010.

    Can anyone really point to a single Foreign Policy issue that has been successful during Obama’s “Manchurian” Presidency. Both Secretaries of State (Clinton and Kerry) have stumbled and bumbled their way to retreats on virtually every Foreign Policy issue they touched!… and Obama in total denial of his own fecklessness or to act with any measure of gravitas continues to snap “selfies” of himself in full abdication of the American perspective on the World Stage.

    In light of Obama’s epic “meltdown” on issues of Foreign Policy – we can now draw equivalence and lend credibility to Clint Eastwood’s “Empty Chair” metaphor in September of 2012 – and Obama’s record sadly reflects that reality.

  • boonteetan

    Could one not say that US Mideast policy is more of incompetency than anything else, seemingly tainted with malice if not rancor and antipathy?

  • WillielomanIII

    It cannot all be blamed on Kerry, he works for a racist anti-Jewish bigot that is determined to destroy a Jewish Israel. Kerry is a idiot and fool, yes, but his boss is even worse

  • Tom Chambers

    Much as I would love to think Kerry incompetent and Obama malicious, I can’t convince myself. I find it difficult to believe that Kerry has been simply winging it through this muddle. If no Israeli prime minister could ever have accepted his cease-fire proposal (which I don’t doubt)—didn’t Kerry know that before he threw the pitch? Doesn’t the State Department have a staff of ‘Middle East experts’ to advise him? Does he have no game plan; does the State Department never do the diplomatic equivalent of war-gaming to explore different moves and counter-moves? To the extent the faults originated in the Bush administration, why should Kerry/Obama be determined to play out a flawed strategy to the bitter end? Maybe our State Department aren’t the brightest lamps on the street, but are they really a bunch of amateurs? Finally, if this be simply malice, do they really think such a policy will survive the 2016 elections?

    My tentative (and amateur) hypothesis is that the strategy has been discussed and that a prolonged low-level bloodbath in the Middle East is a risk that Obama is willing to take; that his goal is to disengage from the Middle East to the maximum extent consistent with containment of nuclear proliferation; that he chose this as a matter mainly of domestic policy—many Americans vocally support it; that he is willing to concede the resulting power vacuum on the suppositions that Israel can take care of itself, Russia has its hands full already, and Iran has more enemies than friends; and that the likely consequences, though not good, are at least manageable (by his successor). It is a cold cold calculation but neither incompetent nor malicious, from a certain point of view. At least not completely.

  • lhfry

    Regardless of his motivation, his recent plastic surgery makes him look more and more like “Lurch.”

  • wbilct

    “Bolivia declares Israel a terrorist state”


    “Israel ‘disappointed’ by Latin American envoy recalls”


  • Duperray

    I cannot accept the hypothesis that Obama Administration is stupid, or malicious or incompetent. Knowing the superior intelligence of Obama he has hired superior people around him.
    So what?
    * Administration accumulated Middel-East actions allowed a lot of dormant violence break lose (Lybia, Tunisia, Egypt, Gaza, Syria, Irak catastrophic early US withdrawal, and so on).
    * Domestic policy, present CO² hunt is countercyclical (human triggered Global Warming hypothesis is more and more chanllenged despite its poetical flavour) specially as initiated 10 years after Germany, which damaging economic results are now visible.
    * Deeply damaging East-West relations
    Normal humans do not understand this, me too.

    Is there a superior Target to reach which achievement necessarily generate some side-destructions, the price of which is smaller than the superior Target value?

  • Ernst Bloefeld

    I think it is mostly incompetence. There is indeed malice but only insofar as the Obama administration is filled with fellow neo-Marxist poltroons who believe that any revolution is a good thing.

  • John Johnson

    I haven’t read the article, but with Kerry, you’re pretty safe going with incompetence every time.

  • David E.M. Thompson

    Mr. Garfinkle refers to “a lot of people who wrongly believe that the Obama Administration, not to exclude the President himself, is resolutely anti-Israel and pro-Muslim Brotherhood.” And he characterizes them (I think) as “brain-addled conspiracy theorists”. And he’s probably right.

    But how about, instead of “resolute”, we said halfheartedly? Or vacillatingly?

    The current administration, to include especially the President, is far less pro-Israel and less anti-Islamist than any other U.S. administration in history. That is a fact, not the product of addled brains or conspiracy theorists.

  • donaldeljohnson

    The day back in 2006 or 2007 that it became clear that Obama was a fan of Susan Rice, we knew the Middle East, Israel and America were in deep trouble.

    Harvard, the University of Chicago, Yale and their law schools have been disgraced by W, Obama, the Clintons and John Kerry, to mention only Bush and a few Cllinton-Obama Democrats.

  • Mike Robert

    Good business for the incompetent war monger, they cause a war and sell both sides the weapons.

  • andrewp111

    It is neither malice nor incompetence. Just liberal ideology in action.

    Obama sides with Hamas and against Israel because that is what his ideology tells him to do. Most liberals in the Dem Party base agree with that ideology. They also see the Hamas-Israel skirmish as a sporting event and side with the Underdog. Since Israel lost 60 troops and Hamas lost 1800, they see that as unfair. Also, Obama told us in one of his famous books that “he would side with the Muslims”. It is almost like – nothing to see here, move along.

    • Dan Greene

      “Obama sides with Hamas”

      That must be why his administration is restocking the munitions that we pre-position in Israel for the IDF’s use.

  • Dan Greene

    It’s not malice OR incompetence. It’s dual loyalty–the dual loyalty of Adam Garfinkle, that is.

    It’s ironic that someone who clearly places Israeli interests above all else is writing for a magazine called “The American Interest.” Time for this rag to start living up to its name rather than parodying it.

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