Obama's Israel-Free Dream World

A popular speculative rhetorical question bandied about over the years by various Israel-bashers on both the left and the right is just how peachy things would be in the Middle East had the modern State of Israel not emerged in 1948.  Specifically with respect to America, the usual rationale for this conclusion is that Israel destabilized the region and made effective American alliance with local Arab/Islamic nations difficult, if not impossible.  Ironically, we have President Obama and his successive secretaries of state (Clinton and Kerry) to thank for decisively proving how dumb this theory is.

Since Obama took office, his Middle East policy has focused on minimizing and downgrading America’s relationship with Israel.  This has taken the form of picking fights with and gratuitously insulting Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other leaders.

The most recent event in this effort is the now notorious slur against Netanyahu, in which a “senior administration official” called the prime minister a “chickens***.”  Like many others, I suspect that the senior official was Obama himself.

This is evidenced by several things.  Obama has frequently used Atlantic correspondent Jeffrey Goldberg as a mouthpiece, giving the reliably sycophantic correspondent various interviews and scoops over the years.  Predictably, Goldberg lays the blame for the unprecedented schism between the United States and Israel at the feet of Netanyahu, not the guy going around throwing out schoolyard insults.

Secondly, the administration’s walk-back of the comment has been decidedly limited for such a case.  Usually, the offending official would be sacrificed in the name of maintaining diplomatic niceties, and Obama is not hesitant to throw someone under the bus.  But this has not happened.

Finally, the comment itself fits Obama.  Here’s the admitted Choom Gang pothead calling out a man who at a comparable age fought in one of the world’s toughest commando units.  The slur evinces a typical Obama combination of crudeness, bravado, lack of self-awareness, and pure narcissism. 

Obama has in effect telegraphed to Israel and the world that as far as he is concerned, any semblance of a friendly relationship with the Jewish State, in reality as opposed to diplomatic atmospherics, is at an end.  It is absurd to believe that Obama used (or countenanced) terms like "cowardly," "chickens***," "Aspergery," etc. because he wants to maintain an alliance.  That this fit of bullying likely won’t end the alliance says nothing about Obama’s desires, as opposed to his chronically unsophisticated and ineffective efforts at formulating and implementing policy in general.

Obama has been trying to downgrade the U.S.-Israel alliance since he took office.  But rather than instituting a clear break, he’s degraded the Israel alliance and attempted to implement the fantasy of an Israel-free policy by allying with regional powers other than Israel.  Indeed, most of Obama’s disastrous Middle East strategy can be seen as a series of unsuccessful attempts to supplant Israel, an effort that continues to this day in increasingly dangerous form.  

The effort began with Obama’s Cairo address, in effect a fishing expedition in search of Arab/Islamic allies in the Middle East.  Obama’s cast came up empty.  More specific efforts followed this general entreaty. 

Obama famously bowed before the Saudi king.  Besides the fact that it symbolically insulted many Americans, it was the last thing a savvy leader would do to win an alliance with the guardians of Mecca and Medina.  Who knows what King Abdullah thought when Obama took his bow, but I doubt it was “I want to tie myself to this guy.”  American relations with Saudi Arabia today are no better than with Israel.  Obama can be credited, in part, with unwittingly pushing Israel and the Saudis into a discreet if unlikely alliance.  

Enter Recep Erdoğan, the Islamist leader of Turkey, who Obama let everyone know was one of his best buddies.  Again, the favor was not returned.  Obama’s overtures to the Turks were, and continue to be, rebuffed.  Things are so bad today between the U.S. and Turkey that many doubt, despite Turkey’s membership in NATO, that there is an actual alliance between the two countries. 

Then came the Arab Spring.  Obama leaped to discard old friends like Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak in favor of the Muslim Brotherhood, for whom Obama seems to have personal sympathy.  But Brotherhood rule in Egypt proved as fleeting as Obama’s attention span.  Egypt has a new military autocrat in power, who recently signed a multi-billion-dollar arms deal with Russia, signaling that the American-Egyptian relationship, forged at great expense in the wake of the Camp David Accords, is now near an end.  Rather than forging a new stronger alliance with the world’s most populous Arab nation, Obama’s succeeded in turning the nation toward one of America’s most dangerous international rivals.

And let’s not forget the favorable reports in Obama sympathetic media that attempted to paint Syrian dictator Bashar Assad in a positive light, as an intelligent, Western-oriented leader with whom we might do business – if not for Israel, at least before the revolution.  How did that turn out?  And other than calling for Assad to go, Obama’s continues to obfuscate and dilly-dally when it comes to ending the Syrian dictator’s murderous regime. 

That leaves Iran.  Obama has always sought engagement with the Iranian regime, refusing to support reform movements in the country, never seriously considering military action against Iran’s nuclear arms program, and pushing sanctions reluctantly.  With the feckless John Kerry leading the charge, and having effectively discarded the Israelis, the Saudis, and every other nation in the area that justifiably fears the Iranians, Obama now seems determined to forge at least a tacit alliance with a Persian theocracy. 

With Iraq a shambles (thanks largely to Obama’s failure to secure a status of forces agreement), Obama will justify his Iran engagement as a grand bargain with a historic regional power to impose stability over the tumultuous area.  Expect the Iranians to take what they can in the negotiations, and leave the U.S. high and dry, as has been the case in every other attempt by Obama to forge a firm non-Israeli alliance in the area.  In this case, though, the consequences are potentially catastrophic, as the endgame promises to be an apocalyptic Twelver Shia regime armed with nuclear weapons. 

The recent history of the Middle East demonstrates that Israel is far from a destabilizing influence, and more like the opposite.  Kerry’s recent attempt to resurrect the Israel-Palestinian conflict as the primary source of regional anxiety was laughable.  In all likelihood the chickens*** comment is part of the same insipid strategy.

There might be one salutary effect in all this.  As with Obama’s generally disastrous domestic governance, he is good at proving the hollowness of many of the left’s fundamental ideas and tropes.

In fairness, with regard to our alliance with Israel, the “no Israel” idea has over the years found supporters on both the extreme left and right.  No matter; Obama has clearly proven the theory false.  That’s to the good.  But as with Obama’s domestic agenda, proving the falsity of bad ideas is one thing.  Surviving them is another.

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