Consider what the Obama administration is doing: it is still offering Israel the full panoply of material and military aid and support, it is still going to orient its regional diplomacy around making the Mideast safer for Israel and it is going to impede any Palestinian attempts to leverage international bodies to Israel’s disadvantage. In exchange for this, the administration is not going to push Netanyahu to do anything. Instead, it’s simply going to refrain from defending Israel rhetorically from European criticisms [bold mine-DL].
If you were Netanyahu, wouldn’t you take this deal?
That seems exactly right. Beinart’s argument hinges on the assumption that the Israeli government doesn’t want to “own” its own rejectionism and won’t be willing to put up with increased international isolation. As long as the relationship with the U.S. remains more or less intact, why wouldn’t it? As we all know, there was a failed, half-hearted attempt to pressure Israel on settlements at the beginning of Obama’s first term, and it quickly became clear from that episode that the administration had no intention of using U.S. support as leverage with Israel to extract concessions. What Beinart describes isn’t neglect, and it isn’t particularly benign. On the contrary, it is a good example of how the U.S. enables its clients to act in ways that Washington theoretically deplores without risking the support and backing of the U.S.
This approach somewhat resembles the administration’s attempted shielding of Rwanda from international scrutiny and censure over its destructive behavior in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Rwanda is a U.S. client that has continued its policy of backing proxy militias in eastern Congo, and it is responsible for the latest round of fighting involving the M23 militia. In that case, there is no question that the U.S. has been trying to provide cover for a client government that is actively destabilizing one of its neighbors. Of course, that support isn’t new or unique to this administration, but it is a serious flaw in U.S. policy in that part of the world that has once again become glaring.