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Slade Gorton
Political leader

Slade Gorton

A former U.S. Senator and Washington State Attorney General, Slade Gorton served on the 9/11 Commission.

Friends versus rivals

Q: In the past week, China and Israel have issued sharp rebukes to President Obama and his approach to issues relating to trade and West Bank settlements. As a world leader facing political challenges at home, is this the right moment for Obama to show toughness and resolve and risk escalating the confrontations or to demonstrate patience and diplomacy in trying to defuse them?

The two situations are entirely different.

China is a competitor and a rival both politically and economically. President Obama's weakness on the occasion of his visit to China last year created the (true) impression that he could be pushed around, and so China continues to do so. The president should hold a state dinner for the Dalai Lama the next time he comes to the U.S. and should publicly announce that we are considering trade retaliation for China's theft of our intellectual properties in order to return our dealings to a plane of equality.

Israel is an ally and shares our commitment to democracy and entrepreneurship and should be treated as such. Treating the positions of the two parties as equal in value when one demands a return of many thousands of compatriots who have never set foot in the country while asserting that no Jews may live in Palestine has not succeeded in 50 years and will not do so now. Peace is far more likely in Palestine if we announce that the Palestinians are on their own than by continuing to encourage them in thinking that we will do their bargaining for them.

We should not treat friends and rivals in the same fashion.

By Slade Gorton

 |  March 16, 2010; 5:26 AM ET
Category:  Presidential leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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The distinction between the way one treats friends and the way one treats rivals is a critical one, if a state wishes to have some semblance of a moral backbone. The United States' over- reaction to Israel's bad- timing insult is indicative of the position the Obama Administration staked out at the beginning. Israel was singled out by the Obama Administration for criticism and pressure in a way no other state was. That the U.S. has sought to turn this incident into a major rift is a sign of the Administration's lack of fairness and political wisdom. As former Ambassador Moshe Arens writes today in 'Haaretz' the disagreement over Israeli building in East Jerusalem is a long- standing one. When Prime - Minister Netanyahu agreed to the temporary freeze in settlements he made it clear this did not include building in Jerusalem. For Israelis Jerusalem is not a settlement.
In any case amateurism and incompetence seem to be dictating American policy now. Unfairness also. The Arabs said 'no' to any possible concession, continue to incite to violence, and are not reprimanded by the U.S. in public. Unfairness to and discrimination against a long- time and loyal friend are not the signs of a wise policy.

Posted by: ShalomFreedman | March 16, 2010 2:17 PM
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What a bizarre column from Mr. Gordon. I had to read it several times to understand his odd switch to attacking the Palestinians. He seems to little know, or even care, of the history of area or of the issues, but is content to malign the people that have lived there for 1000+ years in some misguided attempt to defend Likud's thwarting of peace to take land. The US should stand for freedom and justice foremost. Finally, I find it alarming that someone that so willfully misrepresents the issues of the middle east was on the 911 commission.

Posted by: arpy58 | March 16, 2010 1:43 PM
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I could not have said it better myself rohitcuny. I agree 100%

Posted by: scon101 | March 16, 2010 12:33 PM
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The USA hasn't given Israel Trillions, nor has China Loaned the US Trillions(yet). Israel gets 4-6 billion a year, at that rate it would take 200 years to get to Trillion.
That being said, Israel is getting out of control, and has forgotten who is supporting who, they should get a 20% cut in aid at once, and be told that if they put another two boards or bricks on top each other in the West Bank, all aid stops.
East Jer. is another matter, its just not rational to ask a religious based country to give up its holy capital of 3000+ years, but Israel still can not piss in our VP's face without cost.

Posted by: Muddy_Buddy_2000 | March 16, 2010 12:24 PM
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There is no point in Israel making concessions to the the Palestinians. The Arabs will not be satisfied until their true goal is achieved: the eradication of Israel and the murder of all its Jewish citizens. The "peace process" is a sham because the Arabs have no intention of making peace but are bent on murder and mayhem, just as in all the other countries in the world where moslems have gained the upper hand.

Posted by: RichardHode | March 16, 2010 11:27 AM
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rohitcuny - I could not agree more. Well said.

Posted by: adrienne_najjar | March 16, 2010 11:18 AM
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US does not have friends, it has interests. The only thing you can depend on is family and that can be difficult. Replace the family with a corporation and watch profits vaporize, then go on corporate welfare. Go out of business, we don't care. Gridlock Washington for a few months and stop the stream of nonsense being paraded as reform. Send kids to summer camp instead of reform school. What a bloody mess.

Posted by: tossnokia | March 16, 2010 10:54 AM
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Friend are those who do not hijack an american ship, friends are those who do not bomb your SHIP SUEZ canal and then say we did not know. US should not havve FREINED like ISRAEL guilty of WAR CRIMES as stated by JUDGE GOLDSTONE and UNitED NATIONS. CHINA is power that has provided US with trillions of dollar in capital. Israel has sucked trillion plus dollar from US taxpayer. ISRAEL is a FREE LOADERRRRRRR

Posted by: khafeez1 | March 16, 2010 10:40 AM
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I fully agree that Israel is a free lloader. HAs always back stabbed US for its own benefits. To this American Largess in TRillion plus dollar has produced a monster that thumbs its nose at the entire international community by disregarding security council resolution 247. Without US support Israel would be another Banana republic. It is the biggest basket case in the world. This is a challenge for Israel to forgo the Billions and billions in US aid and try and survive for 1 year. without US LOAN guarantees they cannot even get a peeny on international markets. DUMP ISRAEL.

Posted by: khafeez1 | March 16, 2010 10:18 AM
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Well said Rohitcuny.

Posted by: cmecyclist | March 16, 2010 9:34 AM
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Israel is not a friend - it is a free loader. The US gains little from the relationship and has lost a lot.

The achievements of Israelis in building up a modern society in the middle east are admirable. But moral support for them should come from the international community, and not from a love-blind US thumbing its nose at the rest of the world.

Would the rest of the world agree to treat Israel decently? Yes, but only if Israel agrees to treat Pelestinians decently. The blank check which the US has been handing out to Israel, and ridiculous references to the relationship as a "marriage" have prevented Israel from having a healthy relationship with the rest of mankind.

Israel is like the clever child of a rich and powerful father who goes around throwing rocks through the neighbours' windows. The fear of the father prevents the neighbours from taking effective actions to control the window breaking. But resentment is bound to be there.

Israel and US, give up your pretend "marriage" and try to treat the rest of mankind with respect.

Posted by: rohitcuny | March 16, 2010 9:08 AM
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