Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Visceral Reactions or Strategic Thinking

When is a decision a mistake? This piece argues that President Obama made an error by saying last week in his televised address that any peace agreement between the Palestinians and the Israelis would leave Israel with its 1967 borders. Prime Minister Netanyahu vehemently disagreed. Milbank writes of the Israeli exchange student who is living in his home, a middle of the roader who is not inclined to favor Netanyahu's Likud party, nonetheless cheering Netanyahu's speech to a joint session of Congress, where he affirmed that the original borders are not defensible. If President Obama's remarks drove this middle of the road Israeli to become a Netanyahu supporter, then Obama's remarks on that subject were a mistake, so says Milbank. Of course, it takes two sides to make a peace and the Palestinians panned Netanyahu's speech. It seemed, however, that Congress loved that speech. Doesn't that simply help to prolong the stalemate? If a year or two hence the situation seems riper for striking a peace, might Obama's speech have some positive benefit then? Why must we judge the effectiveness of a decision immediately after it is made and not let the fullness of time weigh in on the judgment?

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