I was asked to provide my take on the Impact of the US elections on Israel. I got a little carried away….
In terms of the US elections and impact on Israel.
I think that the impact is significant and that we are all aware of it especially in these hard financial times. The relationship between Israel and the US is historically close and obviously there is a genuine interest in keeping that relationship going. Just from the fact that out of 3 major TV channels at least 2 are showing all week long specials on the elections and the candidates, you realize that the interest level is more then casual.
Impact is a scary word. It can sometimes refer to an adverse effect and I think some people are worried about that with Obama – especially when compared with McCain. McCain is “more of the same” and in this race seems to be the “sure thing” in terms of Israel. He is a Naval Academy grad and an “old army man” (I know the pun…) so that makes him good for Israel. The unknown here is Obama. Will Obama be good for Israel seems to be the million dollar question and the papers and commentators in Israel ask it all the time. But media fed fear is a great ratings/money maker and so I don’t really consider it a good basis for a decision.
I look at a combination of the Job and the Man. I think the presidency of the world’s largest corporation is a difficult gig and brings with it a very steep learning curve. I think that many “presidents to be” had one set of rock solid opinions when they stepped up to the plate and then faced with the realities of the land, the advice of experienced consultants and even previous leaders arrived at different decisions when it came down to executing strategy. Israel and the Middle East is
a traditional “Hot Potato” – period. It’s a foreign policy swamp/nightmare for any US president because of the strategic importance of the area and the volatile population in the region. Finding a steady partner in that swamp is the only way to wade through this particular swamp and this is a lesson that every US president in the last 50 years has had to learn, pretty much the first week on the job.
Now for the man. I like Obama. I think he will be first of all – good for America. I think more of the same is not a good idea for so many obvious reasons. I also think the idea of bringing in a man that will finish his first term of presidency at the age of 76 and the second term (maybe..) at the age of 80 is a problem, especially considering the second in command is an Alaskan with a set of values taken from the middle ages.
Obama is a political loner and in many cases even an outsider. I also don’t think of him as black. He is a determined, dynamic, educated, new world, self made man. He has been able to learn and adapt quickly. He has been able to learn from his mistakes. And, he has been able to stand and fight when needed. All important qualities for a future president.
I also think that these are the characteristics that make this candidate very likely to learn the importance of Israel to the US and value the long standing relationship with this country.
In the long run the Clean & Green policy that Obama wants to move forward will start to reduce the impact of the Middle East on the rest of the world. You need to make that assumption carefully because not “all things remain equal” in this world, but that is a possibility. I also see that as a positive development because it will make the countries in the region look at developing other resources and capabilities in their respective countries and that might actually mean a higher education
rate and real social progress – which of course means less room for fundamentalism and ignorance.