By Richard Baehr, ISRAEL HAYOM
The president reportedly let forth a charming piece of slander directed at Menendez and others who are with him ?in backing new sanctions:
?”According to one of the senators and another person who was ?present, the president urged lawmakers to stop pursuing ?sanctions, saying such a move would undermine his authority ?and could derail the talks. Mr. Obama also said that such a ?provocative action could lead international observers to blame ?the Americans, rather than the Iranians, if the talks collapsed ?before the June 30 deadline.?
“The president said he understood the pressures that senators ?face from donors and others, but he urged the lawmakers to ?take the long view rather than make a move for short-term ?political gain, according to the senator. Mr. Menendez, who ?was seated at a table in front of the podium, stood up and said ?he took ‘personal offense.’?
“Mr. Menendez told the president that he had worked for more ?than 20 years to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions and had ?always been focused on the long-term implications. Mr. ?Menendez also warned the president that sanctions could not ?be imposed quickly if Congress waited to act and the talks ?failed, according to two people who were present.”?
It is worth unpacking this off-the-cuff remark by the president, ?since it fits a pattern. First there is the arrogance: I take the ?long view, you are concerned only with short-term political ?gain. But then comes the clincher: You (Mendendez and ?others who back new sanctions) are basically just responding ?to the pressure from donors and others. You are, in other ?words, bought and sold by Israel and the Jews. There is, after ?all, not a lot of doubt as to who these donors or the “others” ?might be. ?
At its core, Obama is simply parroting the views of Professors John Mearsheimer and ?Steven Walt from their book “The ?Israel Lobby.” The professors argued ?that America was off the reservation of the international ?community (e.g., the Europeans and the other deep thinkers ?at the United Nations) by sticking in Israel’s corner in its ?dispute with the Palestinians. America’s national interest ?would be better served by largely abandoning Israel — ?pressuring it to make all the concessions necessary to get a ?deal done with the Palestinians, which would presumably ?result in an immediate warm wet blanket of approval all ?around the world to reward America for its newly found ?wisdom. ?
For Mearsheimer and Walt, America’s terrible mistake in ?supporting Israel had led to all kinds of other strategic follies. ?The Iraq war was supposedly a war fought by America but ?really stage-managed by Israel and its backers in the United ?States. This bit of nonsense had found other backers, such as ?nativist Patrick Buchanan, who has never had a kind word to ?say for the Jewish state. But the truth of the matter is that ?Israel was clearly not a supporter of the Iraq war in 2003, ?having experienced the blowback from Saddam Hussein’s Scud missiles 12 years earlier in the American war to liberate ?Kuwait, and not looking forward to a repeat performance. ?Israel was also far more skeptical than American officials as ?to whether Saddam had an active nuclear weapons program ?underway in 2003. ?
During the Iraq War, if one accepted the Mearsheimer-Walt ?argument, President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary ?of State Colin Powell, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and ?National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice were all servants ?of Israel, and it was Israel that wanted war with Iraq and ?pushed America into it. Presumably America’s leaders were ?all weaklings, and were easily pushed around by those who ?were really powerful — the Israel lobby, in this case led by a ?few Jewish “neocon” writers, working at the direction of ?Israel, such as Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz and Bill ?Kristol. ?
For Mearsheimer and Walt, America’s leaders are never ?independent actors when it comes to policy toward israel, ?with decisions to be made based on their reading of America’s ?national interest. Rather, they are pawns of the Jews and ?Israel. For them, the all-powerful “Israel lobby” distorts the ?thinking of the government, and Congress, producing a ?collection of American officials and lawmakers serving ?Israel’s interests, but not America’s. ?
The Mearsheimer-Walt argument has gained wide acceptance ?in the years since the original publication of an article ?previewing the book in the London Review of Books. Given the distinction of its ?authors, professors from the University of Chicago and Harvard, the former also a West Point graduate, the book ?gave a broad protection to many other Israel haters who ?wanted to extend the argument. New York Times columnist ?Tom Friedman, one of the president’s favorite reads, referred to Congress as “bought and paid for by Israel” after it gave a warm welcome to Prime Minister Benjamin ?Netanyahu when he spoke before a joint session of Congress. ?The line warmed the hearts of Israel-haters such as writers for Al Jazeera and the Mondoweiss website. Presumably, the applause ?would have been better reserved for the real peacemakers of ?the Palestinian Authority or countries and movements that ?deserved more thoughtful consideration from America, such ?as Hamas, Iran, or even Hezbollah, since the Congress could ?then declare itself “Islamophobe-free,” probably the most ?important designation around these days for the “paper of ?record.” ?
Obama’s reproach of Menendez reflects a view that America ?would be better off if there was not such strong support for ?Israel. Then Obama and other presidents to follow could sell ?out Israel for some other political objective. The president is ?unhappy that Israel has not yet turned into a pure Republican vs. Democrat battle, like all others. The president feeds on ?partisanship, since he believes the numbers on his side of ?every argument are larger and growing more rapidly. Obama ?has worked hard to break the bipartisan support for the ?Jewish state that now exists. So far, his gains have been ?modest, though there is evidence that support for Israel on the Left and among some Democrats has faded.?
Of course, if almost all members of Congress back Israel, it ?might reflect that their constituents strongly support Israel ?and always have. Americans see a natural ally, aligned with ?American interests and values, and a nation on the front line ?of the same battles American is fighting. Obama is ?not part of that majority. His view reflects what one would ?expect to find in someone who is emotionally on the side of the ?Arabs and the Third World, and resents Western nations and ?their success. This was a theme Dinesh D’Souza explored in ?his documentary: “2016: Obama’s America.” ?D’Souza’s legal problems probably owe as much to making ?this film as to any minor campaign finance violations of ?which he was guilty. ?
In any case, the president’s comment to Menendez is a signal that ?like so much else on the political battlefield, now that there ?are no more elections to worry about, Obama can be Obama ?these next two years. And there is not a trace of warmth ?for Israel in this cold man.