The escalating Israel-Palestine crisis illustrates the "real tragedy" of the Obama administration's inability to both fully support Israel's right to defend itself and condemn Hamas for using Palestinian casualties to win political victories, American Enterprise Institute fellow Richard Perle said Friday.
The former chairman of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board and former assistant secretary of defense told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV
the United States "mustn't play along" with Hamas' violent strategy.
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"The real tragedy here, at least with respect to American policy, is the apparent inability to say that not only do the Israelis have the right to defend themselves when they're attacked in this way, but [that] we have no sympathy for Hamas, which is undertaking these attacks."
The humane response of sympathy for the Palestinian casualties, Perle insists, "has the effect of encouraging Hamas to believe that it can win political victories."
"Their strategy is very simple," he said. "They launch rockets at Israel, Israel retaliates, they showcase the products of the retaliation – which is damage on the Palestinian side – and they are using that in a grand strategy of delegitimizing the state of Israel, and we mustn't play along with that."
Perle said it's "a reflexive action" of the United States to scold Israel for the deadly violence in Gaza, though "it's a little worse with this president."
"The Israelis go to such unprecedented lengths to try to avoid civilian injury that they deserve to be praised for it, and they deserve to be praised for it by the president of the United States even while it is going on," he said. "Hamas, on the other hand, fires rockets at innocent civilians."
"You've got to be clear about what's at issue here, and unfortunately we're not nearly clear enough – and the virtue of clarity is that it takes away whatever political advantage Hamas hopes to achieve by cultivating casualties, which they can then exploit," he said.
President Barack Obama's response to the missile strike of a Malaysian commercial airplane, on the other hand, didn't "make the kind of fundamental revision in our policy toward Russia that should've been made a long time ago."
"Putin has the ambition to reconstruct as much as he can of the old Soviet Empire," he said. "This doesn't mean taking physical possession – it means that he wants a world in which decisions made in all of the countries that were once part of the Soviet Union to be made consistent with Moscow's wishes. That's his policy, and he will continue to work away at it, and we have been foolish to think that it's anything else."
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