America’s role in the region is finished

Since President Barack Obama has taken office, he’s shown nothing but incompetence when it comes to maneuvering between the powers of the Middle East.

February 20, 2011 22:57
2 minute read.
US President Barack Obama

Obama close up 311. (photo credit: AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

They’re not “illegal,” they’re “illegitimate.”

That’s the excuse the world’s most powerful nation – a beacon of freedom and democracy – came up with to explain why it vetoed a UN Security Council resolution, brought to a vote on Friday, calling settlement activity in the West Bank illegal.

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That’s the best America could do.

All the president’s men, all the president’s speechwriters, all the president’s media strategists – they all worked for days on that one. And what an ingenious combination of letters and syllables they came up with to define an Israeli policy that they themselves oppose. Let’s not forget, the US was willing to dish out billions of dollars just so Israel would extend the settlement construction freeze by three months – just 90 days! All the US had to do in this case was abstain from the vote. What’s the worst that could have happened? Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman would have gotten angry? Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu would have frowned? Honestly, what’s the worst thing that could have happened from just sitting back and letting the world show some solidarity with the Palestinians? Was the heat from AIPAC that bad? What other explanation could there be? US ambassador to the UN Susan Rice had a strange answer. She said that a onesided UN vote would hamper the chances of reaching a deal through negotiations.

But what negotiations was she talking about exactly? The ones America failed to renew? And how can she claim anything is one-sided when the US was the only one, out of 14 countries, to vote against this resolution? They’re not “illegal,” they’re “illegitimate.” Classic.

A masterpiece. A masterpiece of hypocrisy.

ON THE one hand, you have a president who promises change, yet keeps the good old paradigm of “Israel + US = everlasting occupation” ; a president who can call for freedom in the Middle East – from Cairo to Tehran, as protesters are being shot down – and just hours later shoot down the hope of freedom for Palestinians, as they are, it seems, exempt from US vision; a president who promised to be a fair and neutral broker in the region, but proved to be typical of what the Palestinians have said all these years, that Americans care only about the Israelis; a president who seemed to ignore the lobbyists, but it turned out that the only thing he had in his sights were the 2012 presidential elections; a president who people thought would work to end the Israeli occupation, but who turned out to be weak in light of the Israeli occupation of Capitol Hill.

They’re not “illegal,” they’re “illegitimate.”

“Pathetic” is an understatement.

“Irrelevant” is much more appropriate. “ The US has lost any ounce of credibility it had left with this latest move. It’s time for someone else to take over this show.

Since President Barack Obama has taken office, he’s shown nothing but incompetence when it comes to maneuvering between the powers of the Middle East, and a gross misunderstanding of the conflict.

He’s done nothing, and he’s had his chance.

As an American, I am ashamed.

The writer is a Tel Aviv-based journalist. He is co-founder of, where this article originally appeared.

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