Occasionaly, I have written in the past that Obama will bomb Iran because he has no other option. Iran will soon have the bomb, Russia is gaining influence over the Iranian axis and the US is losing on all fronts. I also suggested that regime change in Iran is doable compared to winning in Afghanistan or stabelizing Iraq. I have argued that not only regime change in Iran is good defense, it is good offense. It is important to destroy the alliance of Iran, Syria, Turkey, Lebanon. With regime change in Iran, these countries will return to the western fold. Israel is crutial to this process. Ted Belman
David P. Goldman, aka Spengler
Jewish leaders remain unpersuaded by chief of staff Rahm Emanuel’s mea culpa for “screwed up messaging” about Israel:
The Obama administration has “screwed up the messaging” about its support for Israel over the past 14 months, and it will take “more than one month to make up for 14 months,” White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel said on Thursday to a group of rabbis called together for a meeting in the White House.
“During the elections there were doubts about President Obama’s support for Israel, and now they have resurfaced,” Emanuel said, according to one of those who participated in the meeting. “But concerning policy, we have done everything that we can that is in Israel’s security – and long-range interests. Watch what the administration does.”
One prominent rabbi–whose congregation was represented at the Rahm Emanuel meetings–said that Jews would have to wait and see whether President Obama was the man who stood in Sderot to say that he would do anything possible stop missile attacks, or the man who sat for twenty years in Jeremiah Wright’s congregation listening to the Chicago pastor spew hatred against America and Israel.
But the shift in tone may be accompanied by a change in policy. DEBKA, the hawkish Israeli news site, claims that the US has done a turnabout, and not only because Obama is concerned about Jewish support in the coming mid-term elections:
- Our sources add that under new White House guidelines, US Middle East envoy George Mitchell should not try and extract from Israel more concessions that it is willing to offer, when he leads the proximity talks with the Palestinians starting this week.
The Obama U-turn dashes Palestinian hopes of the US president holding his own solution ready to impose on Israel in the event of the talks foundering or winding down in September without progress.
Political and Jewish circles see the change as an attempt win back Jewish voter support for the Democrats, eroded over the downturn in US-Israel relations, for the forthcoming midterm elections.
debkafile’s Washington sources stress that the context is a lot wider. The US president knows the time has come to count his assets in the face of the dramatic big power realignment in the Middle East and the diplomatic impasse over Iran’s drive for a nuclear bomb.
After fourteen months in the White House, Barack Obama has suddenly discovered that he has no other strategic ally in the region to rely on except for Israel.
Netanyahu may be justified in crowing over his critics at home. His decision to stand up to the US president’s cold shoulder, insults and pressure, has been vindicated, whereas defense minister Ehud Barak and opposition leader Tzipi Liivni have been confounded in their dire warnings that refusal to surrender in a big way to the Palestinians would gravely jeopardize US-Israel relations.
A senior source in Washington told debkafile Sunday, May 16, that the Israeli prime minister has chalked up an impressive achievement; he can expect warmth and friendship from the administration in the foreseeable future in place of the coolness hitherto.
This does not mean Obama has given up on his objective of a two-state solution of the conflict with the Palestinians, but the arm-twisting tactics have been set aside for now.
Obama’s new look on Israel was manifested in the words of Rahm Emanuel, when he met a carefully selected group of 15 rabbis from across the United States Thursday, May 13 along with fellow White House officials, including Dennis Ross, senior presidential adviser on Iran and Dan Shapiro, head of Middle East desk at the National Security Council.
Emanuel was the most outspoken when he said the Obama administration had “screwed up the messaging” about his support for Israel over the past 14 months. He promised the White House would work to undo the damage, but said it would take “more than one month to make up for 14 months.”
Whether or not the Netanyahu government will be satisfied with this crudely-worded White House “apology” -addressed to American Jewish rabbis rather than Jerusalem – remains to be seen. Much will depend on the actions the Obama administration takes to undo the damage to which it has now owned up.
In Jerusalem last week, senior Israeli officials emphasized that they would go out of their way to demonstrate to the American national security establishment that Israel was a reliable ally. And the concerns of the national security establishment may be an important factor in the administration’s calculation.
The official administration line, articulated by Defense Secretary Gates and CENTCOM commander Gen. Petraeus, is that Israel should cut a deal with the Palestinians to make America’s job easier elsewhere in the region. That is a rhetorical stance that has little real content, for the fact is that perceived Israeli weakness is most likely to encourage Iran’s proxies in the region.
The fact is that America’s strategic position in the region is crumbling:
1) Turkey no longer can be considered an American ally; the Islamist government of Tayyip Erdogan has aligned Turkey with Iran against the United States, and is prominently undermining American efforts to impose sanctions on Iran;
2) Iran will probably exercise de facto hegemony over Iraq after American troops leave; and
3) America’s Afghan campaign is going very badly.
The massive investment of blood and treasure in Iraq with a view towards creating a stable, democratic American ally has failed. Turkey, for two generations the pillar of NATO in the Middle East, is off the rails and probably irretrievable as an American ally.
That leaves Israel as America’s last ally in the region with real muscle. And given Iran’s efforts to dominate the region, including America’s Arab allies–Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and the Gulf States–America needs Israel more than ever.
The fact is that Israel needs the United States. There has been a lot of loose talk, for example by Walter Russell Mead (about Israel shifting economic and defense relationships to India) as well as this writer (about Israel acting independently as a regional superpower). But Israelis are keenly aware of their dependency on American hardware and military cooperation. Despite the bullying from the White House, Israeli-American military coooperation is doing quite well, according to sources on both sides. Daniel Pipes of the Middle East Forum notes that when Turkey last November expelled Israel from scheduled NATO exercises, the US refused to participate.
President Obama has deep personal sympathies for the Muslim world, as I have written on many occasions, and remains–to paraphrase the rabbi quoted above–the man who sat in Rev. Wright’s congregation for twenty years (and the man who wrote lovingly about the traditional roots of the Muslim poor in the markets of Indonesia, as opposed to the rootless anomie of the residents of Chicago housing projects).
But in the American system, the President is not the only player. The errors of the Bush as well as the Obama adminstration have left the US in a weakened position in the Middle East, and that makes Israel all the more important an ally. It is possible that American national security interests will prevail for the time being over Obama’s emotional affinities.