The United States is scrambling to avoid a diplomatic crisis at the U.N. over a Palestinian statehood vote and a promised U.S. veto. As other countries try to find a way to defuse the crisis, Palestinian officials asked for U.N. recognition of Palestinian statehood yesterday. How did it come to this? Heritage’s Kim Holmes contends that this is what happens when a U.S. President makes American leadership secondary to international consensus.
President Obama and his Administration have sent out confusing messages about U.S. policy in the Middle East. In his address last year before the U.N. General Assembly, he raised expectations that he was not able to satisfy when he called for achieving an independent and sovereign Palestinian state by this year’s Assembly gathering. This year, he muted that support, gave stronger support for Israel’s case, and said the U.N.—the very institution he lauded—couldn’t create a viable Palestinian state without Israel’s agreement.
These zigzags came after a year of policies that stiff-armed longtime allies like Israel, weakly responded to brutal regimes’ crackdowns on pro-democracy protestors in places like Iran and Syria, and acted like a reluctant participant in the NATO intervention in Libya. As Heritage analysts Brett Schaefer and James Phillips explain, the Palestinian statehood vote is simply the latest sign that Obama’s “lead from behind” approach to global affairs has failed miserably. Given this Administration’s confusing Middle East policies, it is of little surprise that America finds its influence diminished in a recent Pew survey of Muslims’ view of the U.S.
Emil Maine is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please visit: http://www.heritage.org/about/departments/ylp.cfm