President Obama congratulated Israel on its 66th year of independence referring to the Jewish State as a “diverse and vibrant democracy” and stressed the fact that the United States was the first country to recognize Israel after it declared its independence. Obama is a master of sound bites and his oratory on the subject strikes the right chord but it also begs the question, how would the United States have acted had Obama been president in 1948? Would he have had the fortitude and conviction of President Truman? Sadly, the answer is almost certainly no. His statements as well as choice of advisors, from John “poof” Kerry to CIA director John “al-Quds” Brennan, leave no doubt that any attempt to recognize or assist Israel would have been met with an avalanche of overt hostility and promptly quashed.
No doubt the administration would have cautioned Israel to refrain from declaring statehood and would have termed any such declaration as a “provocation.” It would have urged Israel to “exercise restraint” when dealing with roadside ambushes and relentless onslaughts by Arab gangs. Kerry, who once infamously referred to Bashar Assad as “a man who wants change,” would have characterized Palestinian leader and Nazi collaborator, Haj Amin el-Husseini, in similar fashion. And of course, oil would have figured prominently into the equation.
Thankfully, it was a resolute, principled Truman who sat in the Oval Office on that fateful day and not a feckless Obama. Undoubtedly, Obama’s foreign policy would have mimicked the disastrous policies being pursued today, which have left American credibility in tatters and succeeded only in alienating allies.
Israel is a strong country and will weather the Obama storm. Relations with the next 2016 administration – Democrat of Republican – will pick up where they left off 2008 and will remain excellent. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for our relations with the remaining countries in the region.
Before Obama, Egypt was firmly in the American camp and this had been the case since 1978 after it had inked a peace deal with Israel. But Obama then decided to betray longtime American ally Hosni Mubarak and hastened his ignominious downfall. Mubarak was without question a tyrant but his replacement, Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Morsi was even more so. And while Mubarak limited his tyranny to Egypt, Morsi exported it by cozying up to the various terrorist entities in the region including Hamas, Hezbollah and the Islamic Republic of Iran, further threatening regional stability.
Obama had the opportunity to redeem himself when Egyptian discontent with Morsi prompted the autocrat’s ouster and the downfall of the Muslim Brotherhood. But instead, the administration criticized the Egyptian military for facilitating the removal of a radical Islamist despot and canceled promised military aid desperately needed to combat Islamists in Sinai. This outrage pushed Egypt right into the hands of Putin who waited patiently on the sidelines while the administration’s foreign policy fiasco took its natural course.
Iran is arguably today’s foremost cause of world instability. It is responsible for committing or attempting to commit acts of terror on 6 continents, actively supports anti-American terrorist groups, is knee-deep in the drug trade, subverts its neighbors and is on the cusp of obtaining nuclear weapons. Yet this need not have been the case.
In 2009, the Obama administration folded its hands and passively watched as Iranians took to the streets and bravely demonstrated against their country’s rigged elections. In the absence of American support, the unarmed demonstrators stood no chance against their government’s para-military thugs who brutally quelled the riots in short order through mass arrests, torture and cold-blooded murder. The administration, paralyzed by indecision, passed on a remarkable opportunity to rid the world of its number one menace.
The converse occurred in Libya where the United States played a pivotal role in toppling Kaddafi – an easy target – but did nothing to facilitate a smooth transition following his downfall. The administration, quick to criticize others for acting without an exit strategy, themselves had none. As consequence, Libya has turned into a haven for arm smugglers, al-Qaida, Ansar al-Sharia and a host of other Islamist groups and it was precisely this chaotic environment that ultimately led to the murder of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
And of course there is Syria, where the President comically boxed himself into a corner with an imaginary red line only to sheepishly backtrack and defer to none other than Russia’s ex-KGB man. In the meantime, the plan to remove Syria’s deadly chemical weapons stockpile has been marked by missed deadlines and extensions and notably, more chemical weapons attacks. Obama’s vacillation in the face of a crime against humanity and his failure to provide weapons, early on, to more moderate elements of the Syrian resistance has strengthened the hand of Islamists and largely marginalized a once eclectic and inclusive opposition.
Thus in Libya, Syria, Egypt and Iran, the administration was presented with opportunities which it squandered. As a consequence, allies were alienated, credibility was shattered, influence was lost and most importantly, a chance to strengthen the hand of genuine reformers was wasted. Democracy in the Mideast is as distant as ever. Only in Israel does democracy thrive but strangely, it is here where the administration has chosen to focus its misguided energies and hostility.
Harry Truman was a visionary who took bold steps when needed and led when others followed. His resolute decision to use atomic weapons against an aggressor nation was a painful one but recognized as necessary to maintain the peace. Similarly, Truman demonstrated true statesmanship when, against the advice of some of the naysayers, opted to recognize the nascent state of Israel because he correctly identified the creation of Israel as one of the few hopeful and positive developments of that era. Regrettably, Obama presents himself as the exact opposite of Truman and his salutations to Israel on its 66th anniversary of statehood ring hollow.