Tuesday, March 17, 2009

How would a realist deal with Lieberman?

Ezra Klein writes on the ascension of Avigdor Lieberman to Israel's Foreign Minister:
But it's difficult to know what to root for any longer.
It's tempting to focus on the pluses and misunderstandings, and I've probably erred in that direction. Jeff Goldberg notes here that Lieberman is "actually a person interested in a cold compromise with the Palestinians." And continues, "It's a disaster because he's made himself into a racist." But that's only an intro, as it should be, to denounce Lieberman's views and analyze them according to a better standard not terribly dissimilar to Klein's.

I'm, personally, rooting for a very short-lived coalition and new elections shortly. (I think that's a good bet.)

But while Israel has lately been off-putting for a great many, it seems as though world leaders are taking Israel's needs more seriously. Here, I'm probably making the same mistake again, but...

Not only are international leaders apparently more serious about Hamas's arms smuggling, but the EU is threatening to boycott Durban II.

I guess in a world of realists, it doesn't pay for Israel to bank on idealists - but that's certainly not an outcome I'd hope for. On the other hand, it's not an outcome I'd expect either. Chas Freeman's Mearsheimer-and-Walt-style rant against the Israel Lobby doesn't suggest it. (For me that rant would be reason enough to oppose his appointment. Of course, that rant came as he withdrew his nomination, but it wasn't the only indication of such a view. And I don't support "I was angry" as a justification for a style of thinking that's never as transient as anger.) But it's hard to deny that excessive realism (I feel so conservative saying this) is enabling. So let's blame American realists for Lieberman?

So, coming from a completely different place, like Ezra, it's hard for me to know what to root for.

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