Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Nine years ago I wrote an op-ed on Middle East tensions for our local paper, the Bakersfield Californian. Most of the article covered basic historical information. At the end of that article I wrote that for Israel to avoid another century "drenched in blood" - as King Saud predicted would happen - that accepting pre-1967 borders, "or adjusting those borders," so that the Palestinians can have a state that they call their own, was the key to building a foundation for peace in the region.

If this were to happen, I wrote, there would be a reason for the Arab world to begin cooperating on the issue of Israeli security. This is why I was so impressed with President Obama's Middle East speech last week.

Specifically, President Obama said:
"We believe the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states."
And just like that President Obama initiated a discussion that those of us who follow the region understand needs to take place if we are to secure a modicum of peace in the region.

Perhaps more importantly, with Osama Bin Laden dead, we are currently witnessing the consolidation of the Obama Doctrine - Peace through cooperation, Order through strength - in real time. By pushing the Israelis to see how their future security is tied to building bridges with the Arab world - no matter how reluctant they may seem at the moment - President Obama is demonstrating that he isn't interested in pushing empty and unrealistic "Road Map to Peace" agendas.

And by taking Bin Laden out earlier this month, President Obama has made it clear that he's ready to take risks, which includes his willingness to put the future of his presidency behind his agenda for the region.

This is serious stuff, and the major players involved know it.

Better yet, what President Obama is doing is slowly leaving his domestic enemies (mostly in the GOP) and regional critics with little more than petty sound bytes.

With Prime Minister Netanyahu supporting President Obama's proposal for mutually agreed land swaps, the professional naysayers and the GOP may soon find themselves left with little more than empty rhetoric and petty grandstanding media ops to hang their hats on - as this Lawrence O'Donnell clip makes clear ...

We are currently watching history being made in real time. And the fact that the GOP doesn't see or understand what's happening is just one more reason why President Obama will be reelected in 2012.

- Mark

UPDATE (11-21-12): If you want to read an excellent book on the Obama Doctrine take a look at David E. Sanger's Confront and Conceal: Obama's Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power (Random House, 2012). It provides a detailed look at the Obama Doctrine by outlining the president's use of coalitions when broader U.S. global interests are evident (like the intervention in Libya) and aggressive unilateralism when specific U.S. security interests are involved (the drone attacks and the killing of Osama Bin Laden). For a quick but still nuanced review of the Obama Doctrine check out Joseph S. Nye's article, "The Obama Doctrine's First Term." And, of course, there's my earlier blogpost on the Obama Doctrine as it was being defined in 2009.

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