Is the United States now committed to re-distributing the country of Israel? President Obama gave his much anticipated Mid-East speech today in an effort to reset our policy in the region. Obama wants a two state solution and, on the eve of Netanyahu’s speech before Congress, President Obama told Israel to go back to 1967 borders. The land in question is land which Israel won during the Six-Day War. President Obama did say there would be mutually agreed-upon swaps, but if Israel were to give up the land requested, they would be left with an 8-mile wide country surrounded by Fatah and Hamas who are committed to the destruction of Israel.
Netanyahu responded to President Obama’s speech before embarking on his flight to the United States. Netanyahu said such a withdrawal would jeopardize Israel’s security and leave major West Bank settlements outside Israeli borders. He further said he “appreciates President Obama’s commitment to peace,” he added that he “expects to hear a reaffirmation from President Obama of U.S. commitments made to Israel in 2004, which were overwhelmingly supported by both House of Congress.”
Israel is surrounded by countries who are possibly falling to rule by the Muslim Brotherhood. When the Egypt-Israel peace treaty was signed in 1979, it was believed that the Arab-Israel conflict would end. Instead, it negatively affected the other Arab states and even the Egyptian people. Since the overwhelming number of Arabs seek the end of the Israel state, would this land ever be enough? One might look to the Quran for an answer – “Strongest among men in enmity to the believers wilt thou find the Jews …” 5:82.
President Obama, whose efforts in the Middle East have yielded mostly negative results, might have tailored his speech with the polls in mind. In a 2010 Arab public opinion poll by Bookings.edu, with almost 4,000 surveyed, 51% had an unfavorable opinion of President Obama. The majority believe that the United States is interested in protecting Israel and oil; only 9% believe U.S. motives are to preserve peace and liberty. 86% were prepared for peace if Israel pulled back their borders to pre-1967 including East Jerusalem. 70% sympathized with Hamas and Fatah; 7% with Fatah and 13% with Hamas. View poll here: Bookings Institute Deciding Mid-East Policy?
President Obama addressed the Arab Spring in his speech, but the Arab Spring has done little to improve Arab views of the President or of the United States. Pew Research Polls show that Obama’s approval ratings are low in the Middle East. 43% of Lebanese, 33% of Egyptians, 26% of Jordanians, 23% of Turks and 8% of Pakistanis have confidence that Obama will do the right thing in the Mid-East. 82% have an unfavorable opinion of the United States; 43% prefer a more distant relationship with the United States and 40% want it to remain the same. 62% of Egyptians want Parliamentary elections and Presidential elections. 53% have a high regard for the military. 37% have a highly favorable opinion of the Muslim Brotherhood and 39% have a somewhat favorable opinion. 64% prefer a democratic government though it is not clear what they view as a democratic government.
In July of last year, the University of Maryland commissioned Zogby to poll the people of Egypt. 85% of Egyptians have an unfavorable attitude toward the U.S. 87% have no confidence in the U.S. 92% believe the U.S. and Israel are the greatest threats to them. 52% have an unfavorable opinion of American people. 65% believe that Islamic clergy must play a greater role in the Egyptian political system. 79% believe it would be positive if Iran is able to acquire nuclear weapons.
According to today’s speech, we are increasing our aid to Egypt and Tunisia. With our country facing a debt crisis, President Obama is offering aid to “peace seekers” in the Middle East to improve THEIR economies. Recently journalist, Mark Shields, stated that our priority has to include jobs in Egypt. Makes one wonder how much the press is tied to the WH. Jobs In Egypt
Obama’s speech today laid out the following:
– The canceling of roughly $1 billion in debt for Egypt. The intention is that money freed up from that debt obligation would be swapped toward investments in priority sectors of the Egyptian economy, likely to focus on entrepreneurship and employment for younger people. Unemployment rates are soaring in Egypt and across the region.
– The guaranteeing of up to $1 billion in borrowing for Egypt through the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, a U.S. government institution that mobilizes private capital.
– Promises by the U.S. to launch a new trade partnership in the Middle East and North Africa and to prod world financial institutions to help Egypt and Tunisia more.
According to Reuters, this is how the money was used in 2010:
– In 2010, $1.3 billion went to strengthen Egyptian forces versus $250 million in economic aid. Another $1.9 million went for training meant to bolster long-term U.S.
-Egyptian military cooperation. Egypt also receives hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of excess military hardware annually from the Pentagon.
– U.S.-Egyptian co-production of the M1A1 Abrams Battle tank is one of the cornerstones of U.S. military assistance. Egypt plans to acquire 1,200 of the tanks. General Dynamics Corp is the prime contractor for the program.
– Lockheed Martin Corp is building 20 new advanced F-16C/D fighter aircraft for Egypt. The final Egyptian F-16 under contract is to be delivered in 2013, joining the 240 Egypt already has purchased, according to Lockheed Martin, the Pentagon’s biggest supplier by sales.
– Egypt was the first Arab country to buy F-16s, widely viewed as a symbol of political and security ties with the United States. – The United States also has supplied Boeing Co CH-47D CHINOOK transport helicopters, Northrop Grumman Corp E-2C Hawkeye Airborne Early Warning Command & Control aircraft and Patriot air-defense systems built by Lockheed and Raytheon Co.
– Part of U.S. economic aid is spent on democracy promotion programs in Egypt, a policy that has generated controversy in recent years. “On principle, the Egyptian government rejects U.S. assistance for democracy promotion activities, though it has grudgingly accepted a certain degree of programing,” Jeremy Sharp of the Congressional Research Service said in a background report updated on January 28.
President Obama referred to the role of the global economy in today’s speech… “Yes, some nations are blessed with wealth in oil and gas, and that has led to pockets of prosperity. But in a global economy based on knowledge, based on innovation, no development strategy can be based solely upon what comes out of the ground. Nor can people reach their potential when you cannot start a business without paying a bribe.” (possible swipe at Capitalism?) In another statement, he said, “That’s the leadership that we are providing — engagement that advances the common security and prosperity of all people. We’re working through the G20 to sustain a lasting global recovery.” He also talked about our taking the lead in the global energy movement. It is not unusual for President Obama to concern himself more with the World’s economy, but it has yielded little in the way of support. His favorability ratings throughout Central and Eastern Europe, the Mid-East and other areas of the World are low. Still, President Obama appears to be primarily concerned with the global economy and recovery, secondarily with that of the United States. Read about the speech here: The Washington Post
In the recent Center for American Progress Report, John Podesta, argued that the public is eager to see Mr. Obama be strong and decisive in ways that he can’t be while negotiating and compromising with Congress. “It would be a welcome relief from watching legislative maneuvering to see the work of a strong executive who is managing the business of the country through troubled times, doing more with less, each day working to create a stronger economy and a more effective government,” the report says.
In other words, the Center for American Progress wants more power in the hands of the President. They want a President who circumvents Congress through Executive Orders and the like – a Dictatorial Presidency so to speak, without the balance of power. View the report here: Center For American Progress