So it turns out they’ve something in common after all, Mr. Obama and Mr. Netanyahu, and are helping each other out.
Delightful. Deliciously, ironically delightful.
But hardly surprising. And not very reassuring.
The personal animosity between these two men needs no recounting here. Suffice it to say that six and seven-figure book contracts on this Historic Hate and its impact on policy are already being waved about. Suffice it also to say that the historical status of both men may come down to who wins, if such may be the proper term for it, the current kerfluffle over Iran.
Suffice it also to say that whatever history concludes about this latest example of world affairs as mutual public sneer fest, history will be, most likely, wrong.
For Mr. Obama and Mr. Netanyahu have a deeper, de facto common agenda. Each for his own reasons wishes to portray violent Islamism’s global offensive as some sort of nasty but trivial nuisance, eminently containable, conveniently degradable, to be defeated whenever we get around to it.
Mr. Netanyahu’s reasons seem clear enough. By elevating Iran to The Issue Than Which There Is None Greater, he gets to redefine all the other stuff — the West Bank, Gaza, ISIS, you know the list — as less important, indeed at best ancillary. Keep the Iraniacs from going nukie-poo(f) and everything else falls into line.
Mr. Netanyahu’s strategy should not surprise. He’s spent his entire political career dodging tough decisions and pretending that volatile problems could be “managed” indefinitely. “Standing up to the United States” always plays well in Israel, and Mr. Obama’s too easy and tempting a target to pass up. Elevating the Iranian “Deal” (even the White House calls it a “Deal”) to existential import permits him to strut the global stage, lecture, hector and dominance-posture, and procure himself yet another fifteen minutes of fame.
So nu? Deterrence no longer works? Missiles don’t leave return addresses? Israel ain’t got the nuclear tunk to reduce Iran to instant archeology? And when did Islamist leaders start courting personal martyrdom or sacrificing their territories and perks?
Meanwhile, Mr. Obama’s motives are, if anything, more delusional. His hatred for Mr. Netanyahu doubtless plays its part. Perhaps Mr. Obama has succumbed to the classic American “Success of the Talks” syndrome — after all that effort, we gotta come away with something.
Perhaps he has also embraced Wilsonian monomania. Just as Woodrow Wilson manipulated his hardening brain cells into believing that the League of Nations would solve all future problems, provided America signed on (Wilson, by the by, deliberately destroyed his own Deal in the Senate), perhaps Mr. Obama clutches the Iranian 153 pieces of paper as his sole claim to accomplishment after eight years of inept-to-disastrous mucking about in the world.
But Mr. Obama also agrees with Mr. Netanyahu. The genuine existential peril of global Islamism must be minimized, avoided, ignored. Why? Perhaps the psycho-theological twitchings in Mr. Obama’s skull have something to do with it. No doubt, he also knows that after nearly fifteen years of chaos and muddle in Afghanistan and Iraq, the American people possess neither the will nor the wherewithal to have at it again, this time somewhere and everywhere else.
But he also knows that, while Iran may be putative Job One to Mr. Netanyahu, it’s just one issue among many to the American homies. More distraction is required.
So the Obama administration, as mentioned in my last post, before I took a break to begin yet another six months of chemo (Chemo in Israeli August? Oy.), has decreed that Russia serve, once again, as America’s worst nightmare and all-purpose distraction.
Russia . . . who has attacked or threatened the United States in what way?
Russia . . . who owns an army that can barely muster out of the barracks, let alone clear the front gate.
Russia . . . who boasts a rust-bucket, never-sail navy (what’s left of it) and a decrepit, untrustworthy, most likely unusable nuclear force, quietly and blessedly rotting away.
And was it not the peace-loving United States who, to extend the service life of a now-pointless NATO, declared open membership season and then rammed that over-expanded, under-funded charade up against Russia’s borders?
And if Russia’s so great a threat, why do NATO’s European members content themselves with resolute promises to maybe raise defense spending a little, then forget all about it until the next round of promises?
Russia . . . whom the United States has sanctioned, harassed, belittled and insulted nearly non-stop for years before that country reclaimed a bit of its ancient territory in the Crimea, and now seeks, brutally, to reclaim a bit of eastern Ukraine.
(En passant, all those European states that have been created between 1919 and the 1990s — how many have fared, politically and economically, even moderately well?)
Russia . . . with whom the civilized world shares a common interest in opposing violent Islamism.
Russia . . . who, next to Israel, probably has more hands-on experience dealing with the jihadi than anyone on earth – and who has given the United States significant aid over the past decade or so in this struggle.
Barack Obama doesn’t like Vladimir Putin very much. And although Mr. Putin rarely expresses personal emotions in public, it’s clear that he holds Mr. Obama in utter contempt.
So Barack’s got at least two major world leaders (we’ll discuss Angela Merkel some other time) he can’t abide, and who can’t abide him. But does this provide sufficient reason to crank up a New Cold War?
Or is it that getting the American mind off Islamism requires more than just carping at and about Bibi, AIPAC, that Adelson gentleman, that Senator Shumer?
Next: The New(est) Russian Menace and Its Uses