Obama’s Limit of Imagination Transformed into Limits of Power

I’m republishing this short piece that illustrates the diplomatic scarcity in international relations that is the inexorable feature of the Obama administration.

By Con George-Kotzabasis

Steve Clemons and Ben Katcher are using the ‘shamanistic’ art, the art of a conjurer, to turn the limits of imagination into “the limits of American power.” The “aborted attempt” of the Obama administration to “persuade the Israelis to enact a “settlement freeze”, has nothing to do with US power limits but with lack of imagination and political insight on the part of Obama and the State Department not to foresee the political implausibility of trying to impose such a doltish demand on the Netanyahu government. It’s a dismal failure of policy and not a limit of American power as Clemons and Levy in their conjurers’ role aver.

As for Daniel Levy’s ”asymmetries of power,” WigWag’s post is instructive and unassailable in its historical logic. All defeated nations in wars were due to asymmetries of power.


Transform Hamas into Moderate Party Mockery of Serious Thinking

By Con George-Kotzabasis

A short reply to:

Hamas vs. the Fundamentalists

By Amjad Atallah TheWashington Note,                                                                                

August 17, 2009

Atallah in a post to the Washington Note, on January 20, 2009, displayed his inimitable originality as a political thinker when he claimed that the “cease-fire” in Gaza was Obama’s “first foreign policy success.” On August 17, 2009, from among the ashes of his by now burnt out originality he rises like a phoenix to claim that Hamas is showing the first symptoms of a unique metastasis from a virulent fanatic radical organization to a moderate one. The demiurge of this beatific poetically transcendental transformation from the ugly reality of Hamas as an irreconcilable terrorist organization is Hamas itself. By fighting the extremist pro-Al Qaeda Salafist group of Jund Ansar Allah and killing its leader Abdul Latif Musa, on August 14, 2009, Hamas is blazing a new course of political moderation that according to Atallah would be foolish for the US under Obama not to take advantage of that could change the whole configuration of the Palestine Israel conflict.

Thus the offspring of the Islamist fanatical coupling of Ahmed Yassin and Sayyid Qutb, the founder and the spiritual leader of Hamas respectively who both have their roots in the Muslim Brotherhood, like a poisonous snake is shedding its skin and metamorphosing itself into an amiable friendly python.

Atallah is either unaware of the historical fact or deliberately hides it so he can make his case, that throughout history all widespread and toxic fanatical movements had variable degrees of fanaticism among their members and often created within the general movement their own groups that fought  each other to the death. The virulence of fanatical Islam in our times and the internecine and fratricidal warfare that goes and will go within it illustrates in a pellucid manner the above historic fact.

In this context, the attempt of Atallah to transform Hamas into a moderate organization that President Obama could deal with diplomatically and persuade its leadership to stop permanently its deadly attacks on Israel and accept the two-state solution by recognizing Israel, is a mockery of serious thinking.

Reply to Two ‘Strategists’ of The Washington Note on the Resolution of the Palestinian Israeli Conflict

By Con George-Kotzabasis

My dear Steve,

You seem to be afflicted with an incurable cancerous growth in your continued rambling ‘cogitations’ of equating “the recklessness, immaturity and sheer stupidity of leadership on of all sides.” To perceive a political equivalence between a fanatic religiously motivated Palestinian leadership, like Hamas, and a rational secular Israeli leadership is to cancel your own intelligence.

Dan Kervick’s rationale is ‘perfect’ from his side of the coin until he flips it on the other side and destroys his argument by his own suggestions. On the one hand he advocates a “strong prescriptive diplomacy from the OUTSIDE, along with clear and credible promises of sanctions and incentives,” (M.E.) and on the other, “the US could do more to support and publicize international investigations into war crimes stemming from the Gaza conflict, whichever side is accused of committing those crimes.” That is, while he is putting either Palestinians or Israelis against the wall and shooting them for war crimes, he still believes, after his provocative and ‘incendiary’ suggestion, that the “international community” will be able to force the two parties to the negotiating table that will “result in a durable peace.”   

It’s obvious that Kervick is an impresario in vaudevillian strategic scenarios. And of course he will not reply to this post and address and bridge this huge gap in his argument as he lacks the moral and intellectual fortitude to do so.

P.S. In the first paragraph the quote is from Jim Lobe, but Steve himself is a strong believer in this political equivalence between the two parties as he argued recently in his posts.  

 Dan Kervick says


My view is that the imposition of an international final disposition plan will require mobilizing governments and their peoples to be prepared to impose firm sanctions on one or both sides, if either side fails to abide by the mandated terms of the plan.

This is challenging since the Arab world is full of apologists for Palestinian terrorism and gangsterism, and the American and European side is full of apologists for Israeli ethnic cleansing, brutality and collective punishment. But pressing the international legal case against violators on both sides will diminish their reputations. It will be harder for American supporters of Israel and Arab supporters of the Palestinians to cry “foul” over sanctions if some Israeli and Palestinian soldiers and leaders are on trial before international tribunals for their crimes.

If the global public case is more effectively built that these are *two* outlaw enterprises, that will give foreign governments the political cover they need to take a harder line and threaten sanctions. The case is actually quite easy to make. We just need the Israelis’ and Palestinians’ many global allies to stop running so much interference for them.

You should re-read my proposal, because I explicitly rejected an approach based on “getting the parties to the negotiating table”. My view is that we are at the point where the international community needs to mandate a solution, and then impose it on the parties with carrots and sticks. There is no longer anything to negotiate. We all know the shape of the solution, and this long-running gang war is a dangerous and costly threat to peace and stability.

 I am not sure what you are talking about when you shout about shooting people for their war crimes. I assume you are speaking figuratively. I am only contemplating jail sentences and the threat of jail sentences. The important thing is to start putting people on trial.

 Kotzabasis says,

 I was wrong about Kervick’s moral fortitude but I don’t think I was wrong about his intellectual argument.