Trump tests the turning radius on the ship of state


Jul 11, 2018 6:12 PM - 5 days, 11 hours, 1 minute, 57 seconds ago


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The president offered some tough talk to a key international ally. And while the policy demands were not much of a departure from those of his predecessors, the scolding tone and emphasis on the failings of our foreign friends drew shocked responses.

The president’s political rivals said he had thrown an important ally “under the bus” and undermined its fragile governing coalition. The president had made a “dangerous demand” in what amounted to a “betrayal” of a stalwart supporter of U.S. policy in a crucial region.

That’s what some of 

Barack Obama’s potential 2012 opponents had to say about Obama’s May 2011 speech calling for Israel to return to its borders before 1967’s Six-Day War.

American presidents had previously suggested that a two-state solution for the decades-old conflict depended substantially on Israel surrendering these buffer zones as part of a peace deal. But Obama did so in a public fashion and in such a way that Prime Minister 

Benjamin Netanyahu said ceded Israel’s negotiating power.

Obama’s conservative critics went bonkers and made Obama’s obviously strained relationship with Netanyahu part of the GOP effort to oust the incumbent the next year. And in 2015 when Obama campaign operatives were part of the effort to unseat Netanyahu in Israeli elections, many Republicans said it was further evidence that America was abandoning its most important regional ally at a time of crisis.

Then came the Iran nuclear deal and many Republicans shifted all the way to arguing that Obama was “hostile” to the interests of Israel. Conspiracy theorists in the racist right-wing fever swamps suggested that Obama’s secret Muslim faith and alleged Kenyan nativity were behind his undermining of Israel. 

But while Republicans, mainstream and fringy alike, were apoplectic – some even sincerely so – Obama’s base was quite pleased. 

Liberal Democrats, including a substantial number of American Jews, believed that Netanyahu was a war-monger who was whipping up domestic fears for the purpose of gaining and maintaining power. And many Democrats believed that the lavish support Obama’s predecessor, 

George W. Bush, had provided to Israel was a root cause of anti-U.S. sentiment in the Muslim world.

Why should American’s subsidize Israel when Israel wouldn’t help America by making reasonable concessions to American plans for regional realignment? Good for Obama, they said.

When Obama smacked Netanyahu and made nice with Tehran, Republicans howled but Obama’s base cheered. Down with neoconservative nation builders; ...

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