Guardian op-ed suggests that Jerusalem ‘drives’ Barack Obama’s foreign policy

The argument that Israeli leaders or pro-Israel groups in Washington drive US policy in the Mid-East represents something akin to conventional wisdom at the Guardian, and a recent op-ed in the paper by Carne Ross, about Barack Obama’s May 28th foreign policy speech, contributes to the media group’s impressive body of work in perpetuating this reactionary narrative.

Ross – a British diplomat turned political analyst, Occupy Wall Street fan and apparent Noam Chomsky enthusiast – writes the following in the section of his op-ed dealing with the Mid-East:

The Obama administration can hardly be blamed for the descent of Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and much of Northern Africa into fratricidal and sectarian violence. But you can challenge it for supporting the Al-Sisi regime in Egypt, the repressive behavior of which tragically mimics that of Mubarak, who was the perfect recruiting sergeant for al-Qaida. As Egypt drifts into a persistent low-level civil war, and thousands of Muslim Brothers are imprisoned with barely the pretense of judicial process, the soil is being fertilized for yet another generation of anti-Western terrorists.

There’s a legitimate suspicion that US foreign policy on this front is not being driven by America’s own needs. Even Obama said as much

Then, to buttress his claim, Ross quotes a small excerpt from Obama’s May 28th speech:

In Egypt, we acknowledge that our relationship is anchored in security interests – from the peace treaty with Israel, to shared efforts against violent extremism.

However, as you can see, Obama is certainly not acknowledging, as Ross suggests, that his administration’s foreign policy “is NOT being driven by America’s own needs”. The president is merely saying that his administration’s policy is driven by US security interests in the region – the desire to maintain peace between historic adversaries and the effort to fight violent extremism.

Next, Ross contextualizes – and grossly distorts – the Obama excerpt further:

Indeed, Israel prefers “stability” in Egypt – just as it resists military intervention in Syria or significant game-changing arms supplies, like MANPADs, to the pro-democracy Syrian opposition.

First, Israel has not resisted US military intervention in Syria, and indeed openly supported possible US strikes against Syrian defense capabilities (in response to Assad’s chemical weapons attack against civilians) last year.  

Additionally, Israeli and US opposition to MANPADs (sophisticated shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles – or SAMs) is not, as Ross suggests, driven by fear that such “game changing weapons” will get in the hands of “the pro-democracy Syrian opposition”, but is driven by concerns that these SAMs will eventually get in hands of non-democratic extremists like Hezbollah or jihadists groups.

Moreover, even if there is a significant degree of overlap between Israeli and US interests in the Mid-East, policy agreements between two countries are of course not evidence of causation.

Indeed, perhaps someone should remind Ross of the painfully obvious fact that Barack Obama is the President of the United States, and that it is Obama and his advisers – not political leaders in Jerusalem – who determine US foreign policy, based on what they determine to be, rightly or wrongly, “America’s own needs”.

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9 replies »

  1. “Pro-democracy” opposition? That must be some pretty strong stuff that he’s snorting.

  2. …perpetuating this reactionary narrative.
    This is not only a reactionary narrative but an antisemitic trope well known on the pages of the Aryan Nation. The Guardian’s contributors are in a good company of fellow bigots and racists.

  3. Yeah, The Elders are back, according to Al Guardian. Constatntly hate inciting against the state of Jews, well, who needs nowadays a Stürmer when you can have this media?

  4. why is this website all about Isreal? There’s lots of other thingsa they talk about on the Guardian like lifestyle etc. you need to have a more rounded worldview mate x x x

    • Note the word “Watch” in the website’s title. What distortions, lies, and articles that promote particular political agendas are featured in “Lifestyle?”

    • And by the way, in answer to your question, the reason that this site focuses on Israel is because The Guardian and other UK media wage a demonization campaign against Israel. The purpose of this website is to expose that campaign for the pack of lies and distortions that it really is.

    • A silly remark when the commitment of this site is easily to read. But that might be your problem, properly reading and understanding

  5. I look forward to the day when such phantasmagorical theories of cause and effect as those suggested by Mr. Ross’s are a thing of the past.

    • Jeff I don’t know if you are aware of it, but if you research Carne Ross one of the causes he supports is the UNPA.

      United Nations Parliamentary Assembly.

      Can you imagine the ‘dogs breakfast’ that would be?
      The last thing I need is another layer of politicians that have to be paid for and found something to do to make them feel important.