I am far from an adoring fan of Benjamin Netanyahu. I think he shoots from the hip, thinks tactically but not strategically, and he shares with Obama a bad habit of talking big and doing small. But that said, I don’t think he deserves anything resembling the horrid reputation he seems to “enjoy” among foreign policy experts and other pundits. Reading them, you’d think all other leaders are sane and rational and he’s a crazy warmonger.
I thought I might point out some of his accomplishments:
1) He kept us out of the Syrian Civil War
A more ambitious (i.e. genuinely crazy) Prime Minister may have tried to stir the pot Ariel-Sharon-Lebanon 1982 style. There have been plenty of noises from the Syrian opposition (even on the Israeli left!) to get involved. He stayed out and we are far better for it.
2) Protective Edge is his first ever land operation
Israelis (and Palestinians!) have known far more peace and less death under Netanyahu than other Prime Ministers since Oslo began. People who complain about the bloodshed in the present operation but ignore the equally problematic and bloodier screwups of Second Lebanon and Cast Lead under the “dove” Olmert and “geniuses” Peretz and Barak either suffer from amnesia or are disingenuous.
3) He managed the Palestinians
I know, I know. He didn’t “solve” or “end” things. He didn’t get a Nobel Prize. Maybe he looked at all the other attempts to “end everything” and realized maybe a more realistic, limited approach was in order. Does he have a strategic vision? Maybe, maybe not, but “managing the conflict” has not been substantially worse than all the attempts to end it.
Bibi can be criticized on may fronts. But it’s past time we look at him from a more balanced perspective rather than frothing at the mouth every time someone mentions his name.