September 16, 2012
Why Obama Shunned BibiBy Yonatan Silverman
U.S. President Barack Obama's dramatic refusal to meet with PM Benjamin Netanyahu when Netanyahu visits the U.S. at the end of the month is a psychological minefield. Obama's people claim that the refusal is just a scheduling problem. But this is obviously just a lame excuse. Obama is seeking to avoid a meeting with Netanyahu because he is unable to cope with the difficult issue on which Netanyahu intends to confront him -- namely, the prospect of a military attack against Iran for the purpose of causing Iran to halt its nuclear weapons program.
In particular, the issue that possesses Netanyahu these days is the need for the U.S. to declare red lines, which, if Iran should cross them, would trigger a U.S. military response.
The real problem for Netanyahu is not that Obama hasn't stated a red line; it's that Obama's red line is not the same as Israel's red line. "If Iran knows that there is no red line, if Iran knows that there is no deadline, what will it do?" Netanyahu asked last Tuesday. "Exactly what it's doing. It's continuing, without any interference, towards obtaining nuclear weapons capability and from there, nuclear bombs."
Meanwhile, Secretary of State Clinton has rejected Netanyahu's demands and insists that the path that will achieve the desired result is negotiations.
But it isn't Netanyahu's demand for red lines or, as it were, a scheduling problem that caused president Obama to shun PM Netanyahu and refuse to meet him in the U.S.
The underlying cause for Obama's refusal to meet Bibi is Obama's underlying fear and rejection of launching a military strike against Iran in the first place. One corollary to this assessment is that Obama also does not take seriously the general threat of a nuclear-armed Iran or the particular threat a nuclear-armed Iran represents to Israel.
What is the alternative to striking Iran militarily for the purpose of shocking the ayatollahs into stopping their nuclear ambitions?
The alternative of sanctions has been applied for some time, and there are signs that these are having a desired problematic effect on the Iranian economy. But the sanctions have had no effect whatsoever on Iran's nuclear weapons ambitions. Every day there are reports of their employing additional centrifuges to enrich uranium. The volume of enriched uranium already surpasses anything considered normal for nuclear power purposes. They obviously do not intend to use the enriched uranium to grow pistachios. No, through malicious deceit and subterfuge, the Iranians are producing the raw materials for a nuclear bomb.
This is a devastating reality U.S. Pres. Obama is incapable of addressing in a logical way. So, his latest illogical move is to refuse to meet PM Netanyahu. The idea of employing military means to stop Iran and also the idea that Iran is actually in the process of producing a nuclear bomb are things Obama cannot accept. So he kills the messenger -- he refuses to see Bibi.
Employing military force against Iran isn't something frivolous. Trying to halt Iran's nuclear weapons ambitions with sanctions and negotiations first is logical. The U.S. insists that negotiations need to have time to work still. But according to Islamic custom and Islamic ethics, Iran is employing brazen malicious deceit to achieve its aims in the face of the West. Only Israel, however, puts the issue back in Iran's face and is ready to act militarily to stop Iran from becoming a nuclear jihad power.
In word and deed, the U.S. proves again and again that it does not have the wherewithal to attack Iran militarily, and the consequences of this for Israel are very significant.
U.S. warnings and U.S. evasions and so on conceal the absence of U.S. determination in addressing the problem a nuclear-armed Iran represents.
This means that when push comes to shove and Iran shows signs of actually possessing nuclear weapons, the mission of sending a military message to the Islamic Republic will fall on Israel's shoulders alone.
Gen. Dempsey already said he would not be complicit in such a strike against Iran.
So Netanyahu essentially has no purpose in meeting with Obama after all.
The severity and the urgency a nuclear-armed Iran represents to the world and to Israel do not register with Obama. Rather than take the bull by the horns, admit that sanctions and negotiations have failed, and bite the bullet for a massive U.S. military strike against Iran, Obama characteristically is taking the path of least resistance and just going with the counter-productive flow.
Here's a page from history:
After occupying Czechoslovakia, Austria, and Poland, in the spring of 1940, Nazi forces occupied Norway. For the first time, France and England counterattacked. But the effort failed. However, the Allied effort to liberate Norway marked the end of what was called "The Twilight War," a period in which England and France declared war against Hitler's Germany but did not organize in a warlike manner against it.
In his six-volume history of World War II, Winston Churchill reflects in his simple but direct manner: "This phase [of the Twilight War] proved most harmful to the Allies[.] ... The sedate, sincere, but routine character of the Administration did not evoke that intense effort ... which was vital. The stroke of catastrophe and the spur of peril were needed to call forth the dormant might of the British nation. The tocsin was about to sound."
A tocsin is an alarm bell or a warning signal. The alarm for Israel with respect to a nuclear-armed Iran has sounded and continues sounding because Iran's fanatic Islamic leaders lose no opportunity to condemn the Jewish state in the ugliest, most vicious terms, followed by threats to wipe Israel off the map.
Many suggest in polite diplomatic parlance that a nuclear-armed Iran is a threat to the entire world. But the fact is that Israel is the only country with its neck in Iran's nuclear noose. Ten seconds, or perhaps five seconds, after acquiring a nuclear weapon, Iran will fulfill its dream of dropping the weapon on Israel and thanking Allah for the wonderful consequences. President Obama does not begin to conceptualize this reality. He can say from now to doomsday that the U.S. will protect Israel's security. But he is intellectually incapable of visualizing the consequences to Israel in particular of a nuclear-armed Iran.
Which leaves the world in the twilight zone -- or the "twilight war," as Churchill said. "The sedate, sincere, but routine character of the Administration did not evoke that intense effort[.]" That's Obama's bottom line with respect to Iran. And Israel's more intense perspective and the intense Iranian threat hanging over the Jewish state are things he cannot cope with, things that do not really matter to him.
A follow-up article in Yediot Ahronot begins by boldly stating that Obama believes that Netanyahu is a liar. The White House announced that the Netanyahu office never requested a meeting with the president in the first place -- a claim Netanyahu's office vigorously denies.
To calm the waters, Obama phoned Netanyahu, and they spoke for an hour, but this was an inconclusive conversation. According to the sources, the two agreed to continue the dialogue on establishing red lines for Teheran "intimately, quietly, and seriously." But this is window dressing, whitewash.
President Shimon Peres, for his part, said that "[t]he US is a tremendous and important friend of Israel, and its position against Iran's becoming armed with nuclear weapons is very serious. When America sees a danger America knows how to fight and it will do everything to prevent Iran from being nuclear armed."
But sadly, Peres has his head in the clouds. The reality on the ground is that U.S. President Obama is simply not adapted personally or psychologically to deal in an effective way with the Iranian nuclear bomb issue. And sooner or later, it will be Israel alone who pays the price in this matter, one way or the other.
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