A Liberated President: Obama’s First True Anti-Israel Moment

A Liberated President: Obama’s First True Anti-Israel Moment President Obama's deep cynicism toward the Israeli state emerges once and for all in Iran/U.S. deal.



The recent Iran/U.S. nuclear agreement has been praised or condemned by the usual suspects. Conservatives and critics of the Obama Administration claim it is yet another Munich moment, wherein a deluded West either appeases a hostile, aggressive power or at least buys time before potential future hostilities. Liberal, left-leaning Obama proponents claim the multilateral agreement will reduce international tensions, stop or at least slow down the Iranian nuclear weapons program, and lay a basic groundwork for the development of an enduring peace in the Middle East.

Both of these takes are either overblown or dangerously simple-minded. This deal is no Munich — Iran is not Nazi Germany in 1938, nor are its domestic or foreign policies in any way analogous to the missteps that led to World War II. Nor is this deal a framework for lasting peace in the Middle East — Iran has no intentions of becoming an honest broker, but instead openly and brazenly flaunts its duplicity in international dealings, and makes it clear at every step its designs on the region and its support for the eradication of the 'Zionist' state.

The reality of this deal is much simpler, pragmatic, and sadly, devious — it reveals a deep, perverse anti-Israel positioning in the Obama administration. It reveals that perhaps for the first time since its creation in 1948, Israel cannot and should not expect the explicit support of the United States in the defense of its own statehood. Above all, however, it reveals an unprecedented anti-Israel moment in recent U.S. history, in which an American president — at least publicly — sides with an avowed enemy of Israel in order to frustrate Israel’s ability for self-defense, cast its right of self-defense in a negative light, and isolate it further in the eyes of the international community.

The Iran/U.S. deal has not changed the nuclear calculus for Israel whatsoever. In fact, it has only made the red line that Israel cannot allow Iran to cross that much clearer. And the Obama administration knows this. It knows that at a certain point Israel will preemptively attack Iran’s nuclear facilities in order to prevent the unmistakable existential threat Iran’s nuclear program poses. It stands to reason, in fact, that Prime Minister Netanyahu will even disclose the moment of attack to President Obama when the time comes and seek his tacit approval. What is unprecedented, however, is on which side of the red line the president of the United States will be.

In formal, international terms, the U.S. will be compelled by treaty to stand aside as Israel preemptively defends itself from an Iranian nuclear weapon. It will be unable to defend Israel’s actions publicly or involve itself militarily or economically in any way. In effect, the U.S. will stand idly by while Israel, maligned by the international press and condemned by the international community, does what any rational actor would do when confronted by the genocidal rhetoric of the Iranian regime. For perhaps the first time since its creation, Israel will not receive the full-voiced, unequivocal backing of an American president as it defends its borders and people from the specter of annihilation.

And this is exactly what the president wanted out of this deal. Obama is not a fool; he is a shrewd pragmatist who understands the cynicism of public relations as well as Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan before him. He knows what Israel has to do on the world stage, but more importantly, he knows what it must endure under the weight of public opinion. He knows in absolute terms that Israel will never allow an Iranian nuclear weapon. And as a cynic in the least — and a coward at the worst — Obama has positioned the United States into a peace deal with Iran so that when the time comes, not only will Iran’s weapons program have been destroyed, but he can at once play the role of frustrated peacemaker and critic of Israeli preemptive unilateralism.

It’s already a sad state of affairs when an American president is himself unwilling to take the actions necessary to maintain peace, including perhaps an unpopular military strike against Iran. It is even worse when that same president commits the country to empty promises of peace and disarmament with sworn enemies. But it is downright tragic when it is all built on an edifice of self-serving pragmatism designed to place blame on a close ally and partner merely defending its right to exist.

When the time comes — and it will come — Israel will do what it has to do. And its actions will be universally condemned by the international community, something quite known at this point, even expected. But for the first time an American president will be free to lead the charge, and that is unprecedented, dangerous, and very, very new.


Mike Jay

November 29, 2013.

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