Published March 05, 2012
“Every single commitment I have made to the state of Israel and its security, I have kept,” he told The Atlantic magazine. “Why is it that despite me never failing to support Israel on every single problem that they’ve had over the last three years, that there are still questions about that?”
The question deserves an honest answer, though the truth is not likely to cut through the fog of presidential self-pity. A man who compares himself to Lincoln, Gandhi, King, Mandela and FDR isn’t the sort to welcome disagreement.
And that is the heart of his problem. Obama is certain he knows what’s good for Israel. Given his record and the Iranian threat, it’s an impossible sell.
He came into office thinking Israel was the obstacle to Middle East peace; three years later, his policies are producing more signs of war than peace. The Palestinians won’t negotiate for their own state because the president foolishly urged them to make a ban on Israeli settlements a precondition.
He was wrong from the git-go, and still is. But facts don’t stand a chance. As a Democrat who speaks to Obama about the Mideast told me, he has a “stubborn worldview.”
How stubborn will be revealed today and tomorrow during crucial meetings with Israeli leaders. The Iranian march to nukes will top the agenda, but Obama’s view on Iran is typical of how he sees the region and his role in it.
Stripped of nuance, the gist is that Israel and America are oppressors and Muslims are oppressed. He remains obsessed with the idea that all will be well if only we prove to Muslims that we’re not bigots.
The latest example is his apology to Afghans after our soldiers mistakenly burned the Koran. Six soldiers have been murdered in subsequent riots, yet he insists those involved in the burning face military charges.
His approach to Iran is similarly misguided. Despite its thugocracy, he refuses to accept that his policy of engagement has failed. The White House even says it sees Iran as a “rational actor,” and Obama told The Atlantic that military action against Iran could work to its advantage.
“At a time when there is not a lot of sympathy for Iran and its only real ally [Syria] is on the ropes, do we want a distraction in which suddenly Iran can portray itself as a victim?” he asked.
This is Obama at his faculty-lounge worst. Trapped by his own prejudices and misreading of history and culture, he continues to suggest that Iran is open to persuasion if he can find the right words. It’s not. It’s an evil regime that tortures its people, kills American soldiers, sponsors terrorism and wants a nuclear bomb to use against Israel and to dominate Arab countries.
A friend who recently met with top Israeli officials says the bottom line they will explain to Obama is that there are two things no Israeli government can ever do. First, it cannot allow a mortal enemy to get a weapon of mass destruction or the ability to make one. Second, it cannot entrust its survival to a third party, including the United States.
The policy that flows from those principles is obvious. Israel will attack when it feels Iran is close to getting the bomb. And Israel is more likely to reach that conclusion sooner because it doesn’t trust Obama’s resolve or time line.
For his part, Obama will have to search someplace else for respect. Israel is too busy trying to survive.
Michael Goodwin is a Fox News contributor and New York Post columnist. To continue reading his column on other topics, click here.