The Skeptics

Kennan on America and Israel/Palestine

Amid all the pouting and hurt feelings in the wake of President Obama’s drearily boring and inconsequential remarks on the Israel/Palestine conflict (on both sides of the dispute, and from ambitious Republican pols seeking to make political hay), it is perhaps a good time to take a breath and step back to consider some wise words—more than three decades old—from George F. Kennan discussing Washington’s ridiculous position between the two sides of the dispute:

[W]e have allowed ourselves to be maneuvered into a position where each of the two parties believes it can use us for its own ends, where each has the impression that it is primarily through us that its desiderata can be achieved, with the result that we are always the first to be blamed, no matter whose ox is gored; and all this in a situation where we actually have very little influence with either party. Seldom, surely, can a great power have got itself into a more unsound and unnecessary position.—George F. Kennan, The Cloud of Danger (Boston: Atlantic-Little, Brown, 1977), pp. 84-85.