According to a comprehensive article in the New Yorker magazine, the White House believes that Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu hopes to see the Republican candidate, Mitt Romney, win the election in November.
Additionally, the New Yorker’s White House correspondent, Ryan Lizza, who authored the article, provided a glimpse into the thought process going into Obama’s second-term foreign policy. For his piece, Lizza spoke with Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communications and Speechwriting, as well as other senior White House officials.
Rhodes is one of Obama’s closest advisers, and has been at his side since the 2007 election campaign. During the campaign, Rhodes wrote Obama’s speeches, a duty he fulfills to this day. In addition, he is charged with determining the President’s media strategy for foreign policy and defense matters.
Although the election will not be held until November, President Obama’s advisers are already planning for a second term. Like many U.S. presidents before him, Obama is expected to focus on foreign policy, including the Middle East. The assumption surrounding Obama is that he will spend the last two years of a second term focusing almost exclusively on foreign policy.
According to the article, the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians is expected to be one of Obama’s top priorities during a second term. Obama is interested in pushing for a renewal of negotiations between the two sides, which are currently stuck in a deep freeze. Obama will be more cautious during a second term however, as opposed to his first – on the second day of which he declared a special envoy specifically for the peace process.
Obama’s bitter experiences of the peace process with Netanyahu, along with Iranian advancements toward a nuclear weapon, are likely to bring about changes to priorities for the second term.
“The President would not get personally involved [in the Israeli-Palestinian issue], as his two predecessors did, unless he was certain that Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, wanted a deal, (The White House assumes that Netanyahu is hoping for a Romney victory)” wrote Lizza.
“In an Obama second term, containing Iran might take precedence over a Middle East peace agreement, even as the Administration continued to try to manage the post-revolution transitions across the region,” continued Lizza.
Deputy National Security Adviser Rhodes said to Lizza that an Obama second term would be very similar to that of Ronald Regan in the late eighties, during which many efforts that were begun in Regan’s first term came to fruition.
“A lot of the threads of stories that we’ve begun-from Asia to the Arab Spring, to even Africa, to Middle East peace-the ability to complete the story in the second term will go a long way toward defining the legacy of the President,” said Rhodes.
“The President can make a huge mark on the world, and often that’s what people remember,” said Rhodes.