Barack Obama didn’t have it easy with Benjamin Netanyahu but achieved willingness to compromise. In the Palace of Westminster, he enthralled Great Britain’s elite. Seldom has high rhetoric dominated a week of world affairs like in the last eight days, in which the president shone on both sides of the Atlantic and effortlessly propelled himself into the illustrious circle of great statesman-like orators.
In Washington, Obama took on Netanyahu, who is known as a fearless tribune of the plebs. Both attempted to simultaneously warn and give hope to the Palestinians and Israelis. Instead of refusal from both sides, there is an opening for compromise.
Surely Israel’s opposition leader, Tzipi Livni, sees more light than darkness in Obama’s proposals. In the dignified Palace of Westminster, he moved and enthralled Great Britain’s elite. Even the most spoiled of listeners found the style and mood of his speech one-of-a-kind. In those high halls, Churchill and de Gaulle, Mandela and Pope Benedict XVI have spoken.
In a time of new challenges for democrats, the concept of an “essential relationship” instead of the traditional “special relationship” will be interpreted positively. The Arab Spring is the touchstone for this new policy of close ties.
England’s new government leaders described it as such in private discussions: One cannot, even with the best intentions, intervene everywhere one wants. In Libya, democracy will not succeed of its own accord like it did in Egypt and Tunisia. However, the chance of a regime change is still greater in Libya than in Syria. Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States will certainly be emboldened to begin reforms.