April 6, 2015

President Obama Offers Sage Advice To The Leaders of Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Israel

"As for protecting our Sunni Arab allies, like Saudi Arabia, the president said, they have some very real external threats, but they also have some internal threats — “populations that, in some cases, are alienated, youth that are underemployed, an ideology that is destructive and nihilistic, and in some cases, just a belief that there are no legitimate political outlets for grievances. And so part of our job is to work with these states and say, ‘How can we build your defense capabilities against external threats, but also, how can we strengthen the body politic in these countries, so that Sunni youth feel that they’ve got something other than [the Islamic State, or ISIS] to choose from. ... I think the biggest threats that they face may not be coming from Iran invading. It’s going to be from dissatisfaction inside their own countries. ... That’s a tough conversation to have, but it’s one that we have to have."
If their leaders really are telling the truth that Iran is not seeking a nuclear weapon, the president said, then “the notion that they would want to expend so much on a symbolic program as opposed to harnessing the incredible talents and ingenuity and entrepreneurship of the Iranian people, and be part of the world economy and see their nation excel in those terms, that should be a pretty straightforward choice for them. Iran doesn’t need nuclear weapons to be a powerhouse in the region. For that matter, what I’d say to the Iranian people is: You don’t need to be anti-Semitic or anti-Israel or anti-Sunni to be a powerhouse in the region. I mean, the truth is, Iran has all these potential assets going for it where, if it was a responsible international player, if it did not engage in aggressive rhetoric against its neighbors, if it didn’t express anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish sentiment, if it maintained a military that was sufficient to protect itself, but was not engaging in a whole bunch of proxy wars around the region, by virtue of its size, its resources and its people it would be an extremely successful regional power. And so my hope is that the Iranian people begin to recognize that.”
“This is an area that I’ve been concerned about,” the president said. “Look, Israel is a robust, rowdy democracy. ... We share so much. We share blood, family. ... And part of what has always made the U.S.-Israeli relationship so special is that it has transcended party, and I think that has to be preserved. There has to be the ability for me to disagree with a policy on settlements, for example, without being viewed as ... opposing Israel. There has to be a way for Prime Minister Netanyahu to disagree with me on policy without being viewed as anti-Democrat, and I think the right way to do it is to recognize that as many commonalities as we have, there are going to be strategic differences. And I think that it is important for each side to respect the debate that takes place in the other country and not try to work just with one side. ... But this has been as hard as anything I do because of the deep affinities that I feel for the Israeli people and for the Jewish people. It’s been a hard period.”" - New York Times, "Iran and the Obama Doctrine" April 5, 2015.
President Obama's interview with The New York Times about the nuclear deal with Iran contained both wise and unwise statements, truthful and untruthful statements. But, let's focus on the positive. It's spring. Winter is over. There is no need to dwell on the negativity.

Essentially, President Obama advised the Saudis and Gulf leaders to address their internal threats and be less occupied with external matters, the Iranians to stop chanting death to Israel and focus more on their economy, and the Israelis to stop building illegal settlements.

These are good and wise statements. The regimes and peoples of Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Israel should take his sage advice. If these countries were led by smart and sensible statesmen, and not hot-headed idiots, then they would have realized the wisdom of the policy directions that President Obama has advised on their own.


For Saudi Arabia, it is not a good idea to go out in search of monsters to destroy while leaving your own home divided, impoverished, alienated, and unstable. The U.S. should take its own advice on that one.

Saudi Arabia is trying to suppress the Shiite revolt in northern Yemen, having done nothing to address the grievances of its own Shiites. A wise, responsible, prudent, just, moderate, and forward-thinking government would first make sure to have its own Shiite population on board and happy before going off to kill their kin across the border. It's just seem like the logical and smart thing to do. President Obama is giving the Saudis very good advice. They should not get offended.

For Iran, it is not a good idea to call for the death and destruction of others. There is nothing wrong with being against Israel's expansionist and racist policies and opposing its terrorist aggressions and crimes, but chanting death to it and calling for its destruction crosses the line. There is no need to get emotional and irrational when taking a moral and political stance against Israel's illegal wars and expansionism.

There is no doubt that Israel has been a very destabilizing force in the region since its founding, but instead of joining that destabilization, the Iranian leadership should use its voice to stabilize the region. They can drop the obnoxious rhetoric and still stand with the Palestinian people at the same time.

For Israel, it is not a good idea to build illegal settlements, thumb your nose at international law, and further antagonize a community of over one billion human beings. At some point you have to make concessions to get long-term peace and stability in your neighbourhood. You can't just continue gobbling up the land of Palestinians and use the hollow card of anti-Semitism to dodge accountability for your own heinous actions. You can't blackmail your way to peace. Israel will have to learn to face that reality and understand that giving Palestinians scraps is not a sustainable way of creating peace.

Title: Iran Nuclear Deal: The Obama Doctrine & Iran | EXCLUSIVE FULL INTERVIEW | The New York Times. Source: The New York Times. Date Published: April 6, 2015.