Rashid Khalidi: Enough about Crimea, the topic should be Palestine

The New York Times has a regular op-ed feature called Room For Debate, that solicits opinions on various topics from a range of writers.

This topic is: “Weakness or Realism in Foreign Policy?
What does the Obama administration’s reaction to crisis in Ukraine and elsewhere say about its influence in international affairs?”

Rashid Khalidi is a tireless Palestine promoter, identified for the article as: “Rashid Khalidi, the Edward Said professor of Arab studies at Columbia University, is the author of ‘Brokers of Deceit: How the U.S. Has Undermined Peace in the Middle East’.”


Those who focus on the weakness of the Obama administration’s foreign policy are highly selective in the cases they choose. The crisis in the Ukraine following Russia’s takeover of the Crimea has produced a typical array of such accusations…

This bellicosity reflects a deep-seated nostalgia for the black and white certainties of the Cold War, or perhaps for the muscular heyday of the George W. Bush administration. There has been near total blindness on the part of these critics, American and non-American, to the meager and fleeting results of the use of force in the Middle East, whether by the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan or by other powers.

There was nevertheless a quick response from the Obama administration to those who demanded that the United States firmly oppose the Russian occupation of the Crimea. Within 48 hours, the United States had threatened the use of sanctions against Russia for its occupation, which was described as a violation of international law.

Unremarkably, those who advocated a vigorous response to Russian occupation of what before 1954 was Russian territory have been silent about another violation of international law that in June of this year will enter its 48th year. This is Israel’s occupation of the Arab territories it has controlled since the June 1967 war.

The United States is far from sanctioning Israel for this unending occupation, which Secretary of State John Kerry apparently proposes to extend indefinitely…blah blah blah

But the Obama administration was not in charge 48 years ago. I am no Obama fan but this is a bit much, given that the topic was the current administration.

A better contributor was “Reuel Marc Gerecht, a former case officer in the C.I.A., is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.” Excerpt:

With this administration, it’s always tricky, if not impossible, to separate intention from naiveté, and idealism from “realism.” Barack Obama came into office mistrusting American hegemony, which had led us into Afghanistan and Iraq. Like many post-Vietnam liberals, he seems to believe that American military power is more likely to do harm than good, and that strategically the United States, and others, would be better off if the Pax Americana passed into desuetude.

This disposition is fortified by Obama’s determination to expand the American welfare state, which is, of course, a hungry maw. The British welfare state ate the Royal Navy, and many Brits, certainly on the left, were quite happy to see Great Britain’s global responsibilities, born in part of imperial sin, fade away or be assumed by the United States.
When the Pax Britannica fell, America was there to shore up the liberal world order. If Washington retreats, only the void follows. Things are likely to get very, very nasty and brutish and short.