First off, if I were President Obama, I would so get in Benjamin Netanyahu’s face and tell him that if he gets Israel into a war with Turkey, Israel is on its own. No help from us. Not so much as a “good luck” card.
Here’s the deal: Turkey says its navy will escort the next aid flotilla to Gaza, and if Israel tries to stop it … well, seems to me that could be construed as an act of war. And don’t forget, Turkey is a NATO country. If Turkey were to invoke Article 5 of the NATO charter, it would put the U.S. and the U.K. in a very nasty spot.
Sean Paul Kelley explains that Israel’s actions weakens moderate forces in Turkey, emboldens extremists, and forces Turkey closer to Syria. Way to go, Bennie.
As Jeffrey Goldberg says, it’s not clear exactly what happened with the flotilla yesterday. Apologists for Israel claim the people in the flotilla somehow provoked Israeli commandos into boarding the ships. The Israeli Navy released a video that clearly shows violence on a ship, which the Israeli Navy says justifies the deaths on the flotilla.
But, says I, obviously this violence occurred after Israeli commandos with live ammo had boarded the ship. So who was provoking whom?
The one encouraging thing I heard this morning was from Juan Cole, who writes about the UN Security Council condemnation of the incident.
This development is head-spinning in its implications. The United States almost never allows UNSC resolutions condemning Israel to go forward (though this text was admittedly a presidential statement rather than a full resolution). But here it is clear that President Barack Obama instructed his ambassador to the UN to join in the condemnation of the Israeli “acts.” Since Turkey is currently a non-permanent member of the UNSC and led the charge on the condemnation of Israel, it is possible that the US felt it had to trade horses with Ankara if it has any chance of still getting a UNSC resolution tightening sanctions on Iran (a step that Turkey opposes, as does Brazil, though neither has a veto). It is also possible that Israel’s rash attack has sabotaged the Obama administration’s push for increased UN sanctions on Iran, hardening opposition to an Israel-driven policy toward Tehran.
Compare/contrast with Jack Tapper, who claims a White House official told him the U.S. would “stand with Israel.”
I’m told there won’t be any daylight between the US and Israel in the aftermath of the incident on the flotilla yesterday, which resulted in the deaths of 10 activists.
Regardless of the details of the flotilla incident, sources say President Obama is focused on what he sees as the longer term issue here: a successful Mideast peace process.
I don’t see how knee-jerk support of every damnfool thing Benjamin Netanyahu’s government does is going to enable a “successful Mideast Peace process.” I think either Tapper or his “source” is blowing smoke.
The Usual Peabrains are loudly insisting that Israel can do nothing wrong and that the Israeli Navy’s actions were 100 percent justified. There doesn’t seem to be so much as a glimmer of awareness from them that this act puts the United States into a terrible position, threatens war between two U.S. allies, threatens to break NATO, makes peace with terms to Israel’s liking damn unlikely, and probably isn’t doing the security of Israel much good, either.
See also Jackson Diehl, “Obama, Netanyahu and the Free Gaza flotilla.”
Update: Here’s another perspective, from Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., whose opinion I respect.
Update Update: See Blue Texan, especially the part about “Nothing like invoking Der Dolchstoßlegende in a pro-Israeli/anti-American rant.” Heh.