One of the biggest issues raised by Sen. John F. Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) in the 1960 presidential campaign was the Soviet Union’s advantage — the Missile Gap — over the United States in intercontinental ballistic missiles.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower knew Kennedy’s charges were wrong, but he couldn’t say anything without letting the Soviets know how much we really knew about their strategic situation and that the disparity was very much to our advantage, not theirs.
After the election and he learned the truth, President Kennedy was asked about why he was no longer talking about the “missile gap.” He replied that the view from inside the Oval Office is very different from the one looking out.
Donald Trump apparently finds himself in a similar situation on many of his hot button campaign promises. He wanted to tear up the Iran nuclear agreement, threaten trade wars with China, arm Saudi Arabia and Japan with nukes, ban all Muslims from entering the country, and repeal Obamacare on Day One.
Another big campaign promise is also going on the shelf. Like his most recent predecessors, candidate Trump promised to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem right away, and like them, President Trump is in full retreat.
The likelihood of embassy relocation ever happening under Trump just dropped to somewhere between maybe and fuhgeddaboudit.
The Jerusalem Post is quoting Arab media that the Trump White House has told the Palestinian Authority that the US Embassy will remain in Tel Aviv.
The President has reportedly informed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at least a week ago. They are scheduled to meet in the Oval Office on Wednesday.
Netanyahu will publicly express disappointment although he privately agrees and endorses Trump’s decision. Trump began backing off his campaign promise almost immediately, and got a boost from a meeting with Jordan’s King Abdullah II, who warned him of the damage the relocation could do to the U.S. role in the Arab world and Trump’s war against ISIS.
Trump and Netanyahu have heard from other friendly Arab leaders as well that the move could cause serious domestic problems for them, incite violence against American embassies and needlessly damage their diplomatic and covert relations with America and Israel.
One of Netanyahu’s successes has been establishing ties to pragmatic Sunni Arab states like Saudi Arabia, and those are more critical to Israel’s strategic interests at this point than the symbolic relocation of the U.S. Embassy. So look for only perfunctory objections to the Embassy situation from Bibi, all intended for audiences in Israel, where he is facing potentially the most serious political crisis of his long career, including a possible indictment on corruption charges.
Meanwhile, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is expected to begin hearings this week on Trump’s nomination of his bankruptcy attorney, David Friedman, to be the next ambassador to Israel. Friedman is an ardent advocate of the embassy relocation, an outspoken opponent of Palestinian statehood and a major financial backer of a large West Bank settlement. He has said he plans to have his office in Jerusalem. He may have to settle for working out of an apartment he owns there.