If one is mixing chemicals, getting the formula wrong can produce disastrous results.
It is the same with international diplomacy. For decades the left was wrong about the Soviet Union and China, believing that what the U.S. did or did not do would have a positive influence on communist dictators who jailed and executed opponents of their regime, and still do. Though the Soviet Union is no more, Russia’s Vladimir Putin behaves like his predecessors, Mikhail Gorbachev being a possibly milder version.
The Biden administration is once again employing the wrong formula in the Middle East. On a recent visit to Saudi Arabia, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that Israel would have to make considerable concessions to the Palestinians if a deal brokered by the U.S. with Riyadh were to succeed. Many observers believe that had Donald Trump been re-elected that deal with the Saudis would have been made because Riyadh wants to shore up its defenses against what it considers a threat from Iran. The Abraham Accords seemed a major motivator for Saudi Arabia to join other countries making peace with Israel.
Now that Secretary Blinken has reverted to an old and failed formula, promoted by President Barack Obama and some of his predecessors, the Saudis apparently think they can appease their fellow Arabs by appearing to squeeze Israel into making new concessions. This despite the fact that previous concessions have not changed the minds of Palestinian leaders who regularly affirm their desire, not just for a state of their own, but for a state that replaces the Jewish state.
The Wall Street Journal has reported that the Saudis are considering establishing a nuclear plant provided by China. The U.S. had conditioned its help with nuclear power on the Saudis promising not to enrich their own uranium or mining their uranium deposits. We’ve seen how such an approach has worked with Iran which appears to be nearing production of nuclear weapons despite numerous U.S. concessions to the religious fundamentalists running the country. No one should be surprised that China’s offer of a nuclear plant comes with no conditions.
Neither should anyone forget what relatives of the nearly 3,000 people who were killed during the 9/11 terrorist attack have been saying – that they believe Saudi Arabia had a major hand in the attack and that there has never been a full accounting of that role. Oil is usually given as the main reason a full accounting is never pursued, so that Saudi Arabia will keep pumping it and prices will get no higher than they already are.
Will we ever learn that you can’t bargain with evil, or evil ultimately wins because it knows no constraints?
In his autobiography, “Bibi,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tells of a meeting he had with then-Vice President Joe Biden. He quotes Biden as saying, “You don’t have many friends here, buddy. I’m the one friend you do have. So call me when you need to.” Friends don’t try to lead their friends into peril as the administration appears willing to do.
Following that meeting, Netanyahu spoke at Bar-Ilan University during which he said a successful conclusion to any negotiations with the Palestinian leadership would require two elements: “a public, genuine and binding Palestinian recognition of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people” and “The Palestinian areas would have to be demilitarized with solid security arrangements for Israel.”
To this day the Palestinian leadership has agreed to neither condition, so it is hard to fathom why Secretary Blinken believes an old and potentially explosive formula would work now when it hasn’t before.