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Why President Obama's Concept of the Middle East Will Fail: Just Listen to It

At any rate, the old autocrats are already gone for all practical purposes. The U.S. idea is an outdated one: don't depend on being nice to Mubarak because one day he could be overthrown, and there will come a pharaoh who knows not Joseph. Thanks, but that's already happened, and you helped bring about that problem.

Thus, Israel must prove that it is a nice guy to ... the Muslim Brotherhood? The nonsense involved is clear when the concept is stated plainly.

In Jewish history this concept translates, for example, into saying that the Jews shouldn't put all their eggs in the basket of the Weimar Republic because it had just been overthrown by the Nazis, so the Jews had to prove to them that they wanted good relations. (I apologize for the over-used Nazi reference, but it is appropriate to explain the situation.)

The problem is that the United States is under the illusion that even the United States can make friends with Islamist regimes. How all-the-more ridiculous is it to claim that Israel can do so by concessions or gestures? How can anyone with a straight face suggest that if Israel shows progress on negotiations with the Palestinians that regimes which have sworn to wipe it off the map will change their minds?

Rhodes added that, in particular, progress on the peace process required that Israel show Egypt it should keep the peace treaty by making concessions to the Palestinians. Perhaps Egypt should keep the treaty because it is an international agreement it is required to keep. Or because it is in Egypt's interests because Israel and the United States would make Cairo sorry if it abandoned the treaty completely.

Notice that only concessions -- not toughness, deterrence, or credibility -- are a tool to keep treaties.

In these circumstances, a phrase often comes to my mind:

Just because you are stupid, why should I kill myself?

Yes, it is intemperate of me to call these people stupid, but they leave me no choice.