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Editorial: Infighting in U.S. diplomacy

BY DI EDITORIAL BOARD | JANUARY 30, 2015 5:00 AM

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Israeli-US relations reached a new low after Obama’s refusal to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. As the leader of an extremely fragile negotiation with Iran regarding nuclear weapons, Obama is in a precarious position. Discussing further action against Iran would damage the U.S. diplomatic power in the region, and action is exactly what Israel sought to discuss.

Yet House Speaker John Boehner’s decision to usurp the diplomatic duties of the executive braqnch by inviting the Israeli prime minister to speak in the States was disrespectful at best. A blatant disregard for political structure and intentional pigheadedness does not paint a promising future for Capitol Hill in the coming years, and the feud over this particular incident seems to be heating up.

Boehner lacks the capability to aid Israel or to help establish the United States as a dependable diplomatic presence on a global scale. Instead, he exploited an extremely delicate situation to further his political goals. Obama had reason to postpone any talks of embargo on Iran, even if his tact in doing so leaves much to be desired and the official justification for doing so is suspect. However, Boehner appears to be neither willing to work with the White House nor a true friend to Israel. 

The executive branch is tasked with diplomacy, yet the congressional branch has intervened. Instead of productive discussion and cooperation, the United States has once again displayed its petty infighting on the world stage. This time, it is thanks to the speaker.

Internal turmoil is a much more potent threat to the country than any foreign power. The United States is a behemoth, but without coordination, mutual respect, and adherence to tradition and law, it devolves to a lumbering giant, blind and incapable of true leadership.

That is not to say the president is making good decisions in the Israeli-U.S. relationship. The administration claims it is policy not to meet with officials during re-election campaigns, yet Obama met with British Prime Minister David Cameron, who is also running for re-election, just last week. Obama’s refusal to meet with Netanyahu in this context seems intended as a snub, and both congressional Republicans and Democrats have interpreted it as such.

Israel is understandably threatened by Iran, a nation whose aggression with its neighbors is well-documented. Our relationship with Israel is an important one. Right now is not the time to antagonize Iran, however. The future of nuclear power and possible weaponry in Iran is on the table.

There is no room for throwing one another under buses or pulling cheap political tricks. How can we possibly hope to achieve cooperation in the Middle East if our own government is so uncooperative? 

The Daily Iowan Editorial Board believes Boehner shouldn’t have intentionally thrown a wrench into the U.S. diplomatic process, however misguided Obama’s decision to refuse a sit-down with Netanyahu was. Cooperation and communication are essential to any relationship, and any government. Boehner has turned Israel’s problems into a political gambit, while Obama seems to think it best to sit this discussion out. Looking forward, less infighting and more discourse will be needed in order to regain the U.S. image in the international eye.


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