In yesterday’s blog I pointed out that the small Israeli blunder
during VP Biden’s visit was a superb opportunity for the Obama
administration. And though the media had picked up no reports,
yesterday, about the Obama administration using the blunder to their
advantage, I suggested that it would be stupid not to. (Of course, I
was also pointing out to my readers that politics is much of the game of
This morning’s news shows that my prediction was on target. Mark
Landler’s article in the Times said that getting into a serious
fight with Israel was risky, but that the payoff might well shore up Mr.
Obama’s credibility as a Middle East peacemaker.
Eric Cantor of Virginia, the house Republican whip and Sarah Palin
issued a statement calling on the president to “push the reset button on
our relations with our ally israel.” Hillary Clinton reaffirmed our
relationship with Israel as a family member, but kept up the pressure on
Netanyahu. There were also numerous attempts on the Israeli side to
calm the waters.
David Makovsky, the senior fellow at the Washington Institute for
Near East Policy, whom I referred to yesterday, said, “I don’t think
this issue should be like a Christmas tree, where you hang all these
other ornaments on it. The whole episode should end where it began:
you had a problem with those units, so you figure out how to fix it.”
In contrast to Makovsky, however, some of Israel’s staunchest
supporters in Congress said that the experience might focus minds on the
Mr. Obama had a long, private conversation with Mr. Netanyahu
yesterday. Its contents have not been revealed. But you know that
Obama is taking advantage of the tempest in a teapot to reset his own
boundaries with Israel.
Okay. What can we learn from this?
- In human relations, as in international relations, never let a
crisis (a screwup) go to waste. Step up to the plate and take advantage
of it. If you fail to do that, it’s possible that people will respect
you less and that will result in a loss of credibility.
- Take your time to reset the boundaries, but always reset them.
- Take advantage of the situation to demand relevant changes.