Obama embraces linkage

In my earlier post on the myth of linkage, I brought a number of exemplary quotes from figures such as Jimmy Carter and Zbigniew Brzezinski to illustrate my point. Now another quote can be added to the collection—this one from Barack Obama, fresh from his quick tutorial in the Middle East:

I think King, King Abdullah [of Jordan] is as savvy an analyst of the region and player in the region as, as there is, one of the points that he made and I think a lot of people made, is that we’ve got to have an overarching strategy recognizing that all these issues are connected. If we can solve the Israeli-Palestinian process, then that will make it easier for Arab states and the Gulf states to support us when it comes to issues like Iraq and Afghanistan.

It will also weaken Iran, which has been using Hamas and Hezbollah as a way to stir up mischief in the region. If we’ve gotten an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, maybe at the same time peeling Syria out of the Iranian orbit, that makes it easier to isolate Iran so that they have a tougher time developing a nuclear weapon.

Thus is the myth of linkage perpetuated from generation unto generation. This same savvy King Abdullah, in a CNN interview the day after 9/11, offered up the ultimate linkage thesis, when asked whether the attacks would have happened if Israelis and Palestinians had reached a peace agreement at Camp David in July 2000:

I don’t believe so, because I think that if you had solved the problems of the Middle East, and obviously the core issue is that between the Israelis and Palestinians, I doubt very much that this incident would have taken place, and again, that was a reminder to all of us and why I think so many of us in the international community have been working so hard to bring a stop to the violence and bring people back to the peace process, because, in a vacuum, you do allow the extremists the upper hand and the chance to try things as what happened yesterday. And they will continue on trying until we can solve the problem once and for all.

Savvy indeed.