Saul Singer at PostGlobal

Saul Singer

Jerusalem, Israel

Saul Singer, a columnist and former editorial page editor at the Jerusalem Post, is co-author of the forthcoming book, Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel's Economic Miracle. He has also written for the Wall Street Journal, Commentary, Middle East Quarterly, Moment, the New Leader, and (an Israeli/Palestinian e-zine). Before moving to Israel in 1994, he served as an adviser in the United States Congress to the House Foreign Affairs and Senate Banking Committees. He is also on Twitter. Close.

Saul Singer

Jerusalem, Israel

Saul Singer is a columnist and former editorial page editor at the Jerusalem Post. more »

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America's Role Archives

February 14, 2007 3:53 PM

Drop the Defeatism, A United West Can Triumph

This must be a trick question. But I'll take it straight.

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January 9, 2008 10:24 AM

Dear Candidates: Talking to the World Is Not Enough

Jerusalem - David Ignatius detects in the panel’s responses a global and national Bush-fatigue. This is true, but should not be confused with a desire for America to disappear into its shell. Internationally at least, most people, whether they admit it or not, would dread for Americans to close their borders, close their minds, and leave the world to its own devices. That would be a disaster because power abhors a vacuum.

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August 29, 2008 2:12 PM

Iran's Nuclear Ambitions Will Challenge An Obama White House

The Current Discussion: In their campaign, should Barack Obama and running mate Joseph Biden advocate a clean break in U.S. foreign policy, or should they rely on continuity and experience?

The Democrats should not be aiming for continuity or a clean break in American foreign policy but for a third option: synthesis.

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April 6, 2009 7:37 AM

Obama Scores A Two (For Showing Up)

The Current Discussion: Rate Obama's first performance on the international stage on a scale of 1-10, and tell us why you think so.

President Barack Obama is not only a lawyer, but edited the Harvard Law Review and is more than familiar with constitutional law. So it is difficult for me to fathom how, as the representative and leader of the American people, he could bow to any king, much less a despotic one like King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. But that's exactly what he did.

This is not "only" a matter of protocol or national honor. It is emblematic of a syndrome that befell the U.S. president with the least successful foreign policy in modern times, Jimmy Carter. Carter was notorious for abandoning American allies, such as the certainly unsavory Shah of Iran, and being soft on adversaries, such as the Soviet Union. The results were disastrous, as implicitly acknowledged by Carter's own attempt to toughen up after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

In the Talmud it says, "All who are compassionate to the cruel in the end are cruel to the compassionate." Kowtowing to despots is not just unseemly, it is betrayal of fundamental values, such as the pursuit of human rights. But, as in the case of the Obama's obsequious new year's wishes to the "Islamic Republic of Iran" and not just to the Iranian people, it is likely to invite aggression by America's enemies.

In theory, these sorts of gestures could be combined with toughness, in the spirit of Obama's inaugural statement calling on other countries, such as Iran, to "unclench" their fist. Carrots can be combined with sticks. But where are the sticks? Where is the American campaign to galvanize Europe into toughening sanctions on Iran? Without such a campaign, the chances of diplomacy succeeding fall to zero.

Obama was supposed to show us the effectiveness of "soft power," as opposed to the Bush's supposedly less sophisticated approach. I agree that Bush's approach was lacking, but will Obama's be more effective? Not if it's all "soft" and no "power." Diplomacy is not an objective but a means to one. Obama has the potential to wield non-military measures, such as diplomacy and sanctions, much more effectively than Bush did in the Iranian case. But if that potential is not exercised, the result will be a continuation of the Bush failure to thwart Iran's nuclear campaign.

Why not start with something basic, like asking the Europeans to stop subsidizing trade with Iran with export credits? So far, Obama's outstretched hand has been met with verbal slaps from Tehran. This trend will continue and worsen until the mullahs can see that there will be consequences for their actions.

My score for Obama at the summit: 2 (for showing up).

May 12, 2009 5:02 PM

Opportunity in Iranian Nuclear Crisis

The Current Discussion: Are Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Obama on a collision course over Iran and the Palestinian problem? What would be the consequences of a breach between the United States and Israel?

This isn't the collision course that people think. Conventional wisdom has it that Obama wants to move on the Palestinians and Netanyahu wants to deal with Iran, so it will be difficult to come to agreement. In reality, this is not a bad "dispute" to have because it is, in theory, easily reconcilable. The solution is to move on both fronts, as both leaders want to do.

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