Friday, August 31, 2012

Obama Threw Israel "under the Bus"?

I've been convalescing and rehabbing after having my hip replaced a couple of weeks ago, and what with just trying to keep up with news and analysis, my posting has been curtailed.

But I couldn't help hearing Romney's comment last night (during his acceptance speech at the Republican convention - about which I have much I'd like to say) that Obama has "thrown Israel under the bus."  Rachel Maddow and her MSNBC cohort sneered at that - and justifiably so, because Obama has done no such thing.  Trying to counsel caution and restraint to Israel's messianic, paranoid, drum-beating leadership is not to throw them under the bus.

But as Karl Vick has reported today at Time, Obama has just given Romney another log for that fire:

Seven months ago, Israel and the United States postponed a massive joint military exercise that was originally set to go forward just as concerns were brimming that Israel would launch a strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. The exercise was rescheduled for late October, and appears likely to go forward on the cusp of the U.S. presidential election. But it won’t be nearly the same exercise. Well-placed sources in both countries have told TIME that Washington has greatly reduced the scale of U.S. participation, slashing by more than two-thirds the number of American troops going to Israel and reducing both the number and potency of missile interception systems at the core of the joint exercise.

“Basically what the Americans are saying is, ‘We don’t trust you,’” a senior Israeli military official tells TIME. . . .

You're damn right we don't trust you.


In the current political context, the U.S. logic is transparent, says Israeli analyst Efraim Inbar. “I think they don’t want to insinuate that they are preparing something together with the Israelis against Iran – that’s the message,” says Inbar, director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University. “Trust? We don’t trust them. They don’t trust us. All these liberal notions! Even a liberal president like Obama knows better. . . .   





Inside Israel, reports persist that prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and defense chief Ehud Barak are determined to launch a strike, and American officials continue to urge restraint.  Israeli analysts say Netanyahu wants Obama to send a letter committing to U.S. military action by a specific date if Iran has not acceded to concessions, but the U.S. administration does not appear to be complying.  U.S. Joint Chiefs chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey told reporters in London this week  that a military strike could damage but not destroy Iran’s nuclear capability, and added, “I don’t want to be complicit if they choose to do it.”



All I can say is Bravo, Mr. Obama, for this course of action.  Unfortunately though, he just put another arrow into Mitt's quiver for his attack on Obama's allegedly anti-Israel stance.  Romney soft-pedaled that last night, devoting only one line to it, which likely was all he needed to say in order to keep on-side the millions of Christian Zionist evangelicals and Likudist American Jews who regard the defense of Israel as the US's appropriate chief foreign policy goal.   But Obama's decision may push into Romney's column some independents who question Obama's commitment to Israel.

Of course, any US president truly committed to "American values" would be backing away from an Israel that is rapidly abandoning its secular-socialist roots in favor of a chauvinistic, messianic hyper-religiosity that entails racist-religious hatred of the local Arab population (as recent NYT and JTA pieces highlight) and (in the person of Shas party leader - and Netanyahu coalition member - Rabbi Ovadia Yosef) calls for the annihilation of the Iranian people.

Instead, in his upcoming speech next week in Charlotte, expect Obama to proclaim the one-mindedness of the US and Israel.

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