Sunday, April 18, 2010

Palin's criticism of Obama undermines US security

Sarah Palin's public criticisms of the Obama administration for taking a critical stance on Israel's controversial announcement of new settlement construction undermine US national security.

Israel announced new settlement construction in East Jerusalem, a move which violates the road map for peace, before a visit by Vice President Joe Biden to Israel intended to jump start peace talks between the Palestinian Authority and Israel. This was widely seen as a snub to the US, and eliminated any possibility of the US initiative producing any results.

A major American opposition figure, like Sarah Palin, taking the side of a foreign nation, after it insults the US president and sabotages a major American foreign policy initiative, creates a perception of American political disunity and weakens American credibility as it tries to pressure Israel into making a necessary stop to its settlement building activity.

Given the level of US military involvement in the middle east, and how much the Israeli-Palestinian conflict contributes to tensions in the middle east, peace between Israel and Palestine is a vital US national security interest, as affirmed by General David Petraeus, head of US Central Command. Palin's repeated attacks on Obama for justifiably reacting harshly to Israel's derailment of the peace initiative are inexcusable for a figure who aspires to be a major player in American politics.

The best US foreign policy would be military disengagement from the middle east, as Ron Paul proposes, but barring that, it is essential that American political figures not undermine American efforts to create lasting peace in the region, for the sake of scoring points with America's powerful Israel lobby.

The attachment to a foreign nation, which motivates this kind of political behavior from Sarah Palin and her supporters, is something George Washington warned about:

So likewise, a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification. It leads also to concessions to the favorite nation of privileges denied to others which is apt doubly to injure the nation making the concessions; by unnecessarily parting with what ought to have been retained, and by exciting jealousy, ill-will, and a disposition to retaliate, in the parties from whom equal privileges are withheld. And it gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens (who devote themselves to the favorite nation), facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country, without odium, sometimes even with popularity; gilding, with the appearances of a virtuous sense of obligation, a commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good, the base or foolish compliances of ambition, corruption, or infatuation.

As avenues to foreign influence in innumerable ways, such attachments are particularly alarming to the truly enlightened and independent patriot. How many opportunities do they afford to tamper with domestic factions, to practice the arts of seduction, to mislead public opinion, to influence or awe the public councils. Such an attachment of a small or weak towards a great and powerful nation dooms the former to be the satellite of the latter.

Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence (I conjure you to believe me, fellow-citizens) the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake, since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government. But that jealousy to be useful must be impartial; else it becomes the instrument of the very influence to be avoided, instead of a defense against it. Excessive partiality for one foreign nation and excessive dislike of another cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on one side, and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on the other. Real patriots who may resist the intrigues of the favorite are liable to become suspected and odious, while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people, to surrender their interests.

The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible. So far as we have already formed engagements, let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. Here let us stop. Europe has a set of primary interests which to us have none; or a very remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies, the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns. Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves by artificial ties in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics, or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities.

Washington's Farewell Address 1796