Jonathan S. Tobin
Algemeiner, July 24, 2022
Now that the dust has settled from President Joe Biden’s recent trip to the Middle East, it’s time for both his supporters and critics to admit that a lot of what they’ve been arguing about doesn’t matter as much as they think.
The debate in Israel about the visit seemed to center on whether the symbolism of Biden’s public reaffirmation of the alliance between the two countries proved more important than whether his policies are hurting the Jewish state, as well as its efforts to maintain an anti-Iran alliance with Arab nations. Contrary to the desires of his left-wing critics, Biden is preserving rather than unraveling the infrastructure of the US-Israel relationship. That was enough for the political and media establishment in Israel to give him the hero treatment. At the same time, his insistence on continuing the effort to essentially revive former President Barack Obama’s approach to Iran and the Palestinians is deeply troubling. The same can be said for the minimal progress made on his watch towards expanding the Abraham Accords.
But while analyses of the impact of the shortcomings of the administration’s policies are needed, the discussion of the trip and its impact on the alliance must be placed in a broader perspective. The problem here isn’t so much Biden’s foolish approach to the question of how to stop Iran’s nuclear quest or how his gestures vis-à-vis the Palestinian Authority undermine rather than promote peace. It’s that a president who is widely perceived as both weak and unable to come up with or execute a coherent foreign-policy strategy is a liability to American allies, no matter how smart or stupid his specific initiatives may be.
Biden’s first 18 months in office have been a rough ride. Having come into office with high popularity ratings, his job approval numbers have tanked in the last year as the disaster in Afghanistan, record inflation created in part by out-of-control spending, supply-chain problems as a result of the worldwide fallout from the coronavirus pandemic and a sinking economy have undermined confidence in his leadership.
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Jonathan S. Tobin is editor-in-chief of JNS (Jewish News Syndicate). Follow him on Twitter at: @jonathans_tobin.