Seth Eisenberg
Freedom matters

The Wrestles of Leadership for Democracies at War

Decisions about the use of military force are likely the most difficult of those any democratically elected leader will ever face in office.

“Look, you wrestle with it … The only time I get frustrated is when folks act like it’s not complicated and there aren’t some real tough decisions, and are sanctimonious, as if somehow these aren’t complicated questions. Listen, as I have often said to my national-security team, I didn’t run for office so that I could go around blowing things up.”

Those words didn’t come this week from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It’s a direct quote from what U.S. President Barack Obama told the New Yorker’s David Remnick earlier this year.

Remnick asked the President how he felt about a U.S. drone program that is reported to kill three civilians for every militant.

The way I’ve thought about this issue is, I have a solemn duty and responsibility to keep the American people safe. That’s my most important obligation as President and Commander-in-Chief. And there are individuals and groups out there that are intent on killing Americans—killing American civilians, killing American children, blowing up American planes.”

~ U.S. President Barack Obama

President Obama was talking about American military strikes on an enemy located more than 7,000 kilometers (over 4,000 miles) from Washington, D.C.

This week, President Obama was reported to tell Prime Minister Netanyahu to immediately ceasefire against an equally determined enemy located less than three kilometers (two miles) from Israeli neighborhoods.

The enemy Israel faces is no less determined to killing Israeli civilians, killing Israeli children, and blowing up Israeli planes as the enemy President Obama continues to target with the best-funded, most sophisticated military in the world.

When talking about America’s fight against terrorists, the same designation the U.S. State Department has given to Hamas, President Obama said their commitment to killing Americans is “not speculation. It’s their explicit agenda.”

According to a Pew Research Center study released today, President Obama’s statements in January are strongly in line with America’s attitudes about the war between Israel and Hamas. The survey found that less than one in five Americans think Israel has gone too far in the fight against Hamas, while 35 percent think “Israel has not gone far enough.”

Presidential Candidate Barack Obama visits Sderot on July 23, 2008, where he said, "If someone would have fired rockets on my house, where my two daughters sleep, I would do all I can to stop it and I expect Israel to do precisely the same."
Presidential Candidate Barack Obama visits Sderot, Israel on July 23, 2008, where he said, “If someone would have fired rockets on my house, where my two daughters sleep, I would do all I can to stop it and I expect Israel to do precisely the same.”

If reports that President Obama is calling for a unilateral Israeli ceasefire are true, one can only hope Israel’s leadership — and America’s — pay closest attention to our president’s words when he talked about fighting an enemy committed to killing innocent civilians. The view he expressed is shared by the far majority of Americans who know that neither America or any other country can accept an armed terrorist group firing rockets and digging death tunnels under its border.

About the Author
Seth Eisenberg is President of the PAIRS Foundation, a former At-Large chair of the National Writers Union, elected labor leader, and pro-Israel activist. He is an author of Instructions for Intimacy, The Laundry List of Relationship Mishaps, Knots and Double Binds, PAIRS Essentials, Warrior to Soul Mate, PAIRS for PEERS, and the SHALOM Workshop. He can be reached via LinkedIn at
Related Topics
Related Posts