It seems like a head to head competition, verbal and political combat, with one of the participants vastly outweighing the other in the resources that usually determine such outcomes.
 
Nobody in the world has been more powerful than the President of the United States since the end of World War II. Yet he--or should there become a she--does not own the planet. Western Europe matches the US in population and economic clout. Yet it is divided, and no countries other than Germany, Britain and France have much weight in international politics. China, Japan, and India are much more than what they were in 1945, and Russia is less than Stalin's USSR. They can all constrain the US President if they choose.
 
Israel, with the size of New Jersey and the population of Virginia, has got itself into a position of middle size economic weight and a capacity to either cause trouble or be a source of stability--depending on one's perspective--in an unstable region. The Middle East is  capable of upsetting things due to its energy resources and the activism associated with a religion that has a billion adherents, about one-seventh of world population.
 
Israel is usually thought of as a client asking for help, but Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu has been playing in the garden of American politics with enough success to penetrate Presidential space, and maybe outweigh the President on an issue of great importance to them both.  
 
Both are known as even more dominating in their circles than is typical for hyper-egoed politicians. Bibi has a record of undermining politicians of his party or others who might become serious competitors, and Barack is known as a President who does not take advice. Both are accomplished orators, Bibi in English as well as Hebrew. 
 
Bibi has an advantage of having a constituency in the US as well as Israel, but he also has shrill opponents among American Jews.
 
Overall, Bibi does better in US politics than Barack in Israeli politics. Both received close to 45 percent approval in a recent polls of Americans, but Bibi's negatives in the US were significantly smaller than Barack's, 24 percent to 50 percent.
 
The percentage of Israelis viewing Obama favorably has dropped as low as four percent. Recently it was 33 favorable and 50 percent unfavorable.
 
At home, Bibi came from behind to lead the largest party in recent Knesset elections. He still has to create a government from among potential partners, but the betting is that he is good for another two to four years in office. His party outpolled its nearest competitor by some 25 percent. 
 
US history, as well as recent polling, suggests that it is best to bet on a Republican winning the presidential election of 2016, unless that party chooses one of its nuttier conservatives as the party leader. Since 1948, there was only one occasion when a party won the presidency three times running.
 
Dust-ups between Bibi and Barack have dealt with Palestine, and more recently Iran. The issue of Palestine is currently further from the front burner, thanks partly to the Palestinian leadership rejecting US efforts at formulating a basis of understanding in the most recent negotiations, and the Palestinians choosing confrontation in international forums over negotiations. The White House and State Department may have noticed that Arab governments have tired of Palestinian issues, and that may add to Obama's greater concern for other matters.
 
Bibi is some distance from winning their confrontation over Iran, but it is not all that clear that Barack has won it.
 
The President has had a good run with interviews that he dominates, but the Iranian shoe has not fallen. The timing of lifting sanctions and the sanctions meant to be lifted may be the toughest issues yet to be settled.  Iranians want an end to sanctions with the reaching of a final accord, while Obama has said that sanctions will be lessened as Iran shows compliance. Moreover, Obama has talked about a continuation of sanctions directed not against Iran's nuclear program but against its support of terror, while the Iranians seem to be counting on the lifting of all sanctions.


Obama's success on the Iranian issue may depend on his holding together a difficult cluster of Congressional Republicans and wavering Democrats as well as Iranians. Congressional adversaries are demanding a much tougher posture against Iran, as well as a Congressional role in the matter.


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Commentators are parsing Obama's interviews as well as Iranians' contrary interpretations of what has been agreed.


It's not shaping up as a time to envy the US President.


Obama's "legacy" will have as many interpretations as there are columnists in coming years and historians in later years. At present it seems that Iran will play a role in his standing, along with still developing issues about the implementation of Obamacare, whatever happens on immigration reform, and how the worthies view Obama with respect to Ukraine, the large and growing areas of the Middle East and Africa affected by the various modes of aggressive Islam.


The US population has grown by more than 70 percent since 1960, and its politics have changed in ways that not only brought Obama to power, but are likely to affect his subsequent standing. Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives have changed their centers of power. The South and Whites generally are now Republican, and Democrats more fully left of center than when the South was Democratic and Conservative. 


Blacks are voting in mass, and Obama owes in presidency to them. He polled large majorities among Blacks and smaller majorities among Hispanics and Asians, while majorities of Whites supported his opponents in 2008 and 2012. There is also a Black-White split with respect to Americans who favor or oppose his actions as President.


American isolationism has come back into style more prominently than at any time since before World War II. It is now more a Democratic issue than a Republican Issue. It was Republicans who were most prominent in opposing aid to Britain prior to Pearl Harbor, but it was Republican Presidents who moved forcefully into the Middle East via Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama speaks more forcefully about negotiation rather than military activity. He's used the notion of not having "American boots on the ground" in connection with removing US troops from Iraq, downsizing the US commitment to Afghanistan, staying out of Syria, keeping ground troops out of Libya, leaving Yemen under pressure, and standing against the prospect of destroying Iran's nuclear facilities.


The use of military force has not advanced a President's status, made most clear by writing about Lyndon Johnson and George W. Bush. Whether Obama's efforts to deal with the Middle East by political means advances or destroys his reputation is something where developments in Iran and elsewhere may be crucial.

The story of Jesus inspired those old maps that put Jerusalem at the center of the world. Should they be revised, it would be appropriate to move the center to where Muhammad did his work. 





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