ON-Lion Letter

"In a recent interview, President Obama criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for allegedly seeking 'to maintain the status quo' in Israel's relationship with the Palestinian Authority and the issue of Palestinian statehood," begins an April piece by Hillel Fradkin and Lewis Libby in The American Interest.  "The President's reason?  'That’s not a recipe for stability in the region,' he said.  The President was referring (and not for the first time) to a dictum, now decades old, according to which the key to Middle East stability and therefore peace is resolution of the Israeli Palestinian dispute."

Fradkin is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C., and director of its Center on Islam, Democracy and the Future of the Muslim World.  Libby is the senior vice president of Hudson.  The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee supports both of their work.

"[I]t would appear that apart from 'persuasion' and the occasional airstrike here or there, we are prepared to stand back from Middle East instability, even if that amounts to letting the chips fall where they may, however 'destabilizing' or downright bloody the results may be," Fradkin and Libby write in "Middle East 'Stability:'  Do We Care? Should We?"  "Such a conclusion is by now consistent with other things the President has said and done.

"This explicitly new and 'transformational' American approach is ostensibly hardheaded, not to mention hardhearted," they continue.  "It cannot help but disconcert America's traditional allies in the region.  It already has and is forcing them to ask whether and how they can live with it.  But the same question applies to America.  Can we live with a Middle East that is either in conflict at unprecedented levels or under Iranian supervision?  If not, the next American administration will be faced with the task of a reconstruction of American policy similarly unprecedented in terms of the challenges it will be forced to address.

"It also leaves one other, narrower question," they conclude, "for the Obama administration:  Why should it be concerned at all with the state of Israeli-Palestinian relations?"

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