From the very beginning of his administration, President Obama has sought to cast blame on Israel for the stalled Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. He tried to pressure Israel to agree to a complete freeze of settlements, including freezing the building of additional housing in East Jerusalem. This gave Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas the excuse he needed to refuse to enter into good faith direct negotiations with Israel regarding all outstanding issues.
During his 2010 UN General Assembly speech, Obama helped establish in the Palestinians’ minds a September 2011 date for a “state of Palestine” becoming “a new member of the United Nations.” Then, faced with Abbas’s drive to end-run direct negotiations with Israel and seek United Nations recognition of Palestinian statehood in September 2011, Obama had to do an about-face in order to slow the Palestinians’ unilateral statehood bid down.
In May, 2011, on the eve of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s previous visit to the White House, Obama threw Israel under the bus with an irresponsible proposal that Israel agree to return to the pre-1967 lines, with some unspecified mutual land swaps, as the basis for a peace agreement with the Palestinians. This proposal demonstrated utter disregard for Israel’s legitimate security needs. Even a brief visit by the president to Israel, to see how those “green lines” left Israeli civilians vulnerable to constant sniping and artillery attacks, would have exposed him to the realities on the ground.
Moreover, President Obama did not propose even one concrete concession on the part of the Palestinians in return for what he was urging upon the Israelis. Most importantly, if Obama expects Israel to live as if the clock could be turned back to pre-1967, he should publicly stipulate that the Palestinians must give up their so-called “right of return” to live within pre-1967 Israel.
The fourth theme of Obama’s AIPAC speech was the Iranian nuclear threat. He began this portion of his speech by noting that “No Israeli government can tolerate a nuclear weapon in the hands of a regime that denies the Holocaust, threatens to wipe Israel off the map, and sponsors terrorist groups committed to Israel’s destruction.” He said that he understood “the profound historical obligation that weighs on the shoulders of Bibi Netanyahu and Ehud Barak, and all of Israel’s leaders.”
President Obama also made clear that Iran was not just Israel’s problem alone. A nuclear-armed Iran, he said, “is also counter to the national security interests of the United States.” He expressly rejected any notion of merely containing a nuclear Iran.
The president claimed that his initial policy of engagement allowed the United States to rally the international community more than ever before towards undertaking an escalating series of steps to isolate the Iranian regime, including the imposition of economically painful sanctions. As a result, Obama contended, “Iran is under greater pressure than ever before.”
Obama said that he would not rule out the use of force to stop Iran from possessing nuclear weapons “when time and circumstances demand it,” but believes that the “opportunity still remains for diplomacy.”
But time has always been, and remains, in Iran’s favor. Herein lies the fundamental fallacy of Obama’s Iran policy since the beginning of his administration. He has allowed Iran to run out the clock in the mistaken belief that Iran’s leaders can be reasoned with.
In 2009, Obama had the chance to express America’s strong public support for the Iranian dissidents in the streets protesting the fraudulent re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and possibly help to effect regime change. Instead, he did nothing. He said that he did not want to meddle in the internal politics of Iran. He also expressed the hope that it wasn’t too late “for the Iranian government to see there is a peaceful path that leads to legitimacy in the eyes of the Iranian people.”
The sanctions since that time have increased in small increments and only now may be having a noticeable effect. In the meantime, however, Iran has moved ever closer to achieving a nuclear arms capability.
Obama somehow still believes that the Iranian leaders can be persuaded to give up their long-sought goal. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, Obama stated in his recent Atlantic interview that the Iranian leaders are “sensitive to the opinions of the people.” He wants to believe that it is still possible to negotiate meaningfully with the madmen running the Iranian regime because they are “able to make decisions based on trying to avoid bad outcomes from their perspective.”
The question is what perspective Obama thinks that Iran’s leaders have. He would not say, in response to a question during his Atlantic interview, whether he agreed with Prime Minister Netanyahu’s description of Iran’s leaders as an “apocalyptic cult.” Yet, that is exactly what they are. They believe in the coming of the 12th Imam, and that it is their duty to accelerate this Imam’s arrival by first destroying the Little Satan and then the Big Satan – Israel and the United States respectively. How do you reason with such fanatical megalomaniacs? You don’t, but Obama still thinks he can.
Nevertheless, President Obama is clearly aware that the clock is ticking. Trying to walk a fine line between continued efforts at diplomacy, reliance on escalating sanctions and a credible threat of force, President Obama sought in his AIPAC speech to assuage Prime Minister Netanyahu’s concerns about what he is prepared to do to stop Iran from becoming nuclear-armed:
Iran’s leaders should have no doubt about the resolve of the United States, just as they should not doubt Israel’s sovereign right to make its own decisions about what is required to meet its security needs. I have said that when it comes to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, I will take no options off the table, and I mean what I say…
Iran’s leaders should understand that I do not have a policy of containment; I have a policy to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. And as I have made clear time and again during the course of my presidency, I will not hesitate to use force when it is necessary to defend the United States and its interests.
Prime Minister Netanyahu commented after President Obama’s speech that he appreciated what the president had to say, especially the fact that Obama repeated his position that Iran should not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons and that containment is not an option. Most of all, Netanyahu remarked, “I appreciate that he said that Israel must be able to defend itself against any threat.”
The question is whether the two leaders will truly be in synch on the critical issue of how to deal with the Iranian threat to world peace during their White House meeting and remain so thereafter. We shall see.
Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.
Pages: 1 2