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Rubin Reports

The Obama visit to Israel has become an unlimited love fest with expressions of mutual admiration and total agreement. In his joint press conference with Obama, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the foremost issue they were discussing was “Iran’s relentless pursuit of nuclear weapons.” (Don’t miss the “P.S.”, below.)

Netanyahu put forward his position by praising Obama for saying he was determined to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons by using “determined diplomacy and strong sanctions.” But, Netanyahu continued, despite all the great things Obama had done, Iran’s nuclear program remained:

And as you know, my view is that in order to stop Iran’s nuclear programs peacefully, diplomacy and sanctions must be augmented by clear and credible threat of military action.

Netanyahu thus tried to build on Obama’s previous statements by thanking Obama “for always making clear that Israel must be able to defend itself, by itself, against any threat.”

In other words, he suggested implicitly that supporting an Israeli preemptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities was a logical outgrowth of Obama’s policies, an idea that Obama does not share.

Whether right or not, Netanyahu suggested that there was only about a year before Iran is at the verge of the ability to have weapons. Thus, he put a time limit on how long diplomacy and sanctions can be attempted.

He also subtly asserted Israel’s need for independent action:

I know that you appreciate that Israel can never cede the right to defend ourselves to others, even to the greatest of our friends, and Israel has no better friend than the United States of America.

Regarding Syria, Netanyahu noted that this too was discussed, and that both countries want to see a stable and peaceful Syria. In addition, the weapons in Syria should not fall into the hands of terrorists.

The problem, of course, is that Obama is supporting a Syrian regime that would be Islamist and under the control of the Muslim Brotherhood, a sworn enemy of Israel. Moreover — since the United States is practically handing out weapons to terrorists — it is hard to imagine these arms have not already fallen into the wrong hands.

Netanyahu concluded:

And I have no doubt that the best way to do that is to work closely with the United States and other countries in the region to address this challenge, and that is what we intend to do.

In other words, Israel will try to get U.S. policy to be careful, and Netanyahu awaits the day the U.S. comes to its senses and recognizes the size of the problem Washington helped create.

The third point of discussion was the “peace process.” Netanyahu assured Obama that he was fully committed to peace and to a two-state solution. He is ready to negotiate without preconditions and to work towards a historic compromise.

Here, Netanyahu knows that the Palestinian leadership is neither ready to negotiate unconditionally nor to make any historic compromises beyond accepting the pre-1967 boundaries, and even then with the demand that hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arabs be settled inside Israel’s borders.

In his response, Obama praised Israel’s “thriving democracy” and Israel’s unique security needs. He made clear his appreciation of the threat from Hamas and his commitment to Israel’s security. He noted such things as military and intelligence cooperation, joint exercises and training, and security assistance and advanced technology.

Almost openly making an appeal for domestic support, Obama stated:

In short — and I don’t think is just my opinion; I think, Bibi, you would share this — America’s support for Israel’s security is unprecedented, and the alliance between our nations has never been stronger.

In other words: Mr. Prime Minister — don’t you think that I’m the greatest friend Israel has ever had in the White House?

Netanyahu wasn’t going to say “no.” His answer later in the press conference, though, was on his own terms:

I appreciate the fact that the president has reaffirmed, more than any other president, Israel’s right and duty to defend itself, by itself, against any threat. We just heard those important words now. And I think that sums up our — I would say, our common view.

In other words, yes, Obama has laid the basis for Israel saying that he is willing to support it in defending itself, even if that requires an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. I don’t think Netanyahu believes that, but he has to try that gambit.

Then Obama made an extraordinary statement:

I think that what Bibi alluded to, which is absolutely correct, is each country has to make its own decisions when it comes to the awesome decision to engage in any kind of military action. And Israel is differently situated than the United States, and I would not expect that the prime minister would make a decision about his country’s security and defer that to any other country, any more than the United States would defer our decisions about what was important for our national security.

What Obama just said publicly is that if Netanyahu decided that Israel’s defense required an attack on Iran, the president would not expect the prime minister to be deterred by U.S. opposition.

Did Obama mean that?

It is hard to believe that he did, yet no Israeli leader is going to miss that apparent “green light.”

Obama announced continued military assistance to Israel, continued funding for the Iron Dome anti-rocket system, and other unspecified help. Naturally, Obama continued by saying any two-state solution must leave Israel secure alongside a sovereign and independent Palestinian state.

One statement probably left Israeli officials amused. Obama:

I’d note that last year was a milestone, the first year in four decades when not a single Israeli citizen lost their life because of terrorism emanating from the West Bank. It’s a reminder that Israel has a profound interest in a strong and effective Palestinian Authority.

They know how much the Palestinian Authority has done to promote violence, how weak and ineffective it is, and how much its survival is due to Israel’s protection.

Turning to regional issues, Obama said:

As the United States supports the Egyptian people in their historic transition to democracy, we continue to underscore the necessity of Egypt contributing to regional security, preventing Hamas from rearming, and upholding its peace treaty with Israel.

Obama barely mentioned getting Egypt to maintain its peace treaty with Israel, a vital issue. Pushing Egypt to prevent Hamas from getting more weapons — a commitment under the last ceasefire between Israel and Hamas — has been an achievement for Obama. But much of the success is due to the recklessness of Hamas in going too far in supporting radical Egyptian Salafist groups that are attacking the Brotherhood regime.

He also mentioned support for Israel’s concern regarding Syria’s transfer of advanced weapons to Hizballah “that might be used against Israel”, and efforts regarding Iran. Obama said the standard U.S. position:

We do not have a policy of containment when it comes to a nuclear Iran. Our policy is to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon … All options are on the table. We will do what is necessary to prevent Iran from getting the world’s worst weapons.

But what does this mean? If negotiations fail and sanctions do not intimidate Iran, that leaves either an attack or accepting that Iran gets nuclear weapons — that is, containment. There are no other options, unless Tehran decides to give up, or acquires the ability to build nuclear weapons without actually doing so. That wishful thinking — it could happen but it is less likely — is the only thing that could get Obama out of his dilemma.

Obama spoke at length about how it isn’t yet clear what the Syrian regime has done regarding chemical weapons. He defended his administration as having been actively involved in trying to get rid of Assad.

He did not address the likelihood that U.S. policy is helping to produce a new Syrian regime that will be a radical Islamist government extremely hostile to Israel.

Another interesting point raised by Obama was his acknowledgement that “what was already a pretty tough neighborhood has gotten tougher”, and Israel could expect U.S. support not only because of Israel, but due to U.S. interests. Obviously, if the neighborhood has gotten tougher, it is due to U.S. policies toward Islamists coming to power.

Yet, again, Obama does not link this situation to his own behavior.

So does he really understand the implications of what he’s saying, or does he still feel it is the time for Israel to make risky concessions toward the Arabs? Perhaps Obama now does understand that — another factor making the “peace process” a mere rhetorical flourish rather than a serious policy option.

Obama then spoke at length about why the “peace process” wasn’t advancing. And Obama added accurately, and obviously reflecting internal discussions that have been going on in the U.S. government:

And I purposely did not want to come here and make some big announcement that might not match up with what the realities and possibilities on the ground are.

Obama had thus gone to a point where an American reporter could ask, very politely, whether the president might not have worked very effectively on the issue in his first term. He then rewrote history to say that he merely promised to work on a solution during his first term. He even blamed the press for exaggerating his emphasis on the issue. It was that blatant.

Yet he added:

But ultimately, this is a really hard problem. It’s been lingering for over six decades. And the parties involved have, you know, some profound interests that you can’t spin, you can’t smooth over. And it is a hard slog to work through all of these issues.

In other words, although he will never say so openly, he was wrong in thinking the problem could be solved easily and he now knows better.

To listen to Obama you get the impression that he expects no progress in his second term. In fact, he reduced expectations pretty low:

And — and — and my goal here is just to make sure that the United States is a positive force in trying to create those opportunities as frequently as possible.

So this is Middle East policy in Obama’s second term: downplaying Israel-Palestinian issues; pushing for a new regime in Syria while disregarding the real dangers of producing a monster there; and trying to convince Israel to not attack Iran by insisting that all options are on the table, although his bluff will be called at some point.

On bilateral relations, this represents a gain for Israel, but it is still stuck in dealing with radical Arab regimes which U.S. policy is not going to confront — and which it even sees as friendly. Moreover, for the next year Israel will enjoy firm American rhetoric on Iran, but what if things come to a head? Obama’s hints and pledges could collapse like a house of cards once Tehran approaches a nuclear weapons arsenal.

Also, Obama now faces the situation of previous American presidents, a dilemma that he has long ridiculed.

The Saudis and Jordanians, along with some other countries, don’t care. But the Iranian, Turkish, and a number of Arab regimes (including the Palestinian Authority) are going to be outraged by what Obama just did and said. The Islamists will see this as a declaration of war — though of course they already viewed themselves as in a state of war with America. The Cairo speech will be spit upon; all the efforts to distance himself from Israel and to create a new orientation for U.S. policy have failed.

Obama is now — on matters directly regarding Israel — a typical American president. The idea that Obama made policy out of raw hatred against Israel should be put to rest. Nevertheless, the incompetence and the deluded strategy toward Islamists still remains, as does the dangerous situation for U.S. interests that Obama has helped create. Fireworks will no doubt occur during Obama’s second term.

————————-

PS: Palestinian anti-Obama demonstrations showed the “gratitude” amassed for Obama’s previous support by branding him a Zionist, imperialist running dog. But one detail drew my close attention: the demonstrators sang a song called “America is the head of the snake.”

That’s the song then-PLO leader Yasir Arafat led in singing at the Palestine National Council meeting almost 45 years ago.

After 45 years of effort, and especially the last 23 years in which America tried to help create a Palestinian Arab state, it has made zero progress toward winning Palestinian support or recognition of America’s aid and efforts. The same story, of course, will be reproduced regarding Obama’s efforts to show his respect for Islam and his empathy for Islamism.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
Obama's whole performance in Israel has been predictably disgraceful, right up to lecturing Israeli students to "walk in the Palestinians' shoes" and referring to the Prime Minister in public as"Bibi" in a cheap effort to sound chummy but coming off as flip and disrespectful instead. This smug, insufferable egomaniac belongs in some forgotten faculty lounge, far away from the levers of power.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
So, in summary:

1)"I have no plan"

2) "you should have no expectations"

3) "their violence is no reason for your response"

4) "I hope things change...hey...hope and change, that's a good slogan!"
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Prof. Rubin, don't believe a single word of what O says.
This is the man who goes peacefully to sleep while an American Ambassador is being slaughtered, imagine HOW LESS he cares about anyone else.



1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (27)
All Comments   (27)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
Obama's whole performance in Israel has been predictably disgraceful, right up to lecturing Israeli students to "walk in the Palestinians' shoes" and referring to the Prime Minister in public as"Bibi" in a cheap effort to sound chummy but coming off as flip and disrespectful instead. This smug, insufferable egomaniac belongs in some forgotten faculty lounge, far away from the levers of power.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Taking out the Iranians does not require bunkerbusters or boots on the ground. The facilities are underground so they've half buried themselves already. Collapse the entrances and bury them alive. Go for the electrical infrastructure and bury them in the dark. Just shutting down the electrical system would take care of everything. Nothing works without juice. If the whole country goes dark so be it and so much the better.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I get the sense that Netanyahu was trying to steer the discussion in public in order to get PresidentPersonalPronoun to make a comment live that would ideally force him to extend support beyond the false bromides. There is no doubt that Bibi is a more intelligent man and politician than our President so if the Teleprompter wasnt around I do believe eliciting such a comment would be possible. While the President certainly would not be bound in such a case the whole exercise would surely be a no lose exercise for Netanyahu.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I know its been said many time before but the advice is as true today as it was back in 2008 when I first heard it - Forget what Obama says - watch what he does.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Netanyahu knows he is the weak sister in this relationship. He tried to intervene in the US election and failed, Obama intervened in the Israel election and succeeded (to a degree). Of course Netanyahu now needs to kiss and make up. Israel needs us more than we need them, exactly how US foreign policy should be. America first, our allies second, our enemies - dead - last.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Excellent, so in the service of your patriotism you overlook that the President has advanced the cause of the MB throughout the region. What counts is that he 'showed' Bibi?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All we can say with any certainty is that there's a lot going on that we don't know about. Apologies for that understatement.
But, really...Obama now seems to've done a 180 and now seems to be all ...."Bibi and I.....[fill this space yourselves]..."

We must continue to rely on Barry Rubin to sort this stuff out for us.

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A personal question, though, keeps popping up on my mind that I'd like to toss out here, and that is, "Why is nothing...nothing...nothing mentioned anywhere about that infamous Syles-Picot Agreement being the creative-point....nexus?...of each of these presently so troublesome Muslim area "national" borders?...where previously there were no drawn borders for those nomadic Arabs?

Why are not the British and French called out in any of these current discussions?.....for their direct responsibility for today's tangled mess? Why are the English permitted to remain so coy about their duplicity in that Agreement and also their Balfour Declaration?

Why is everything George Bush's fault? What's happened to our attention spans?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
So, in summary:

1)"I have no plan"

2) "you should have no expectations"

3) "their violence is no reason for your response"

4) "I hope things change...hey...hope and change, that's a good slogan!"
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment

...permit me to add here that this is just ....obamataqiyya.....and he seems to've gotten pretty good at it.......very scary.

Very scary indeed that this Obama-eleon was elected twice.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Netanyahu should look to this president's covert hostility towards israel and Obama's treatment of him on a couple or three trips to DC and not fall for the charm offensive.

(Some of Netanyahu's generous statements towards Obama border on sycophantic.) I'm sure he (N) knows what he's doing, but I could do with a little more restraint and less gushing.

Just heard an excerpt of Obama addressing Jewish students, basically alluding that Israel's positions vis a vis Gaza/West Bank are essentially not "fair".

I wonder if Obama considers the intifada, against whose vicious tactics Israel has instituted practices to defend itself, "fair".
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Netanyahu is too wily to fall for anything Obama tries to pull. The PM can think rings around little Barry, so I'm sure there's a plan behind his smile. He has it all over Obama in age, experience, intelligence and statesmanship. No contest.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Plus, he's showing Barry up by the simple act of being a gracious host. Remember, the President treated Netanyahu with unmitigated rudeness on his visits to the U.S.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The problem is I do not believe the President knows what the word fair means. It is merely one of those buzzwords that got him a treat when he parroted them high in class.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"Fair" means nothing, and shows him to be the juvenile that he is. Has he never been told, "Life is not fair"?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"fairness" is what the community organizer in chief has hung his hat on in the past, continues to do in the present and will undoubtedly hang out there as his goal in the future.

fairness was what "fundamental transformation" was all about and why this limited thinker Obama is weirdly and eternally focused on "higher taxes on the rich

The fairness concept attaches to everything for the shallow Left, food distribution (it is so "unfair" when there isn't a supermarket in the neighborhood), climate (wealthy countries need to pay poorer countries reparations for using more than their share of resources and screwing up the climate)...ad infinitum, ad nauseam

I agree this president doesn't understand anything about genuine fairness, but, as a knee jerk buzzword with an emotional appeal to the uninformed and as a weapon of class warfare ("yeah, it's not FAIR that X is rich and I am poor") he will trot it out to his dying days.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The Left's obsession with "fair" reinforces my belief that the root of the liberal's world view stems from their perceived mistreatment or rejection early in life, their failure to accept, adapt, and successfully overcome, and therefore expect government to, in effect, do the bootstrap-pulling for them.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Yes, the Left, permanently stuck in immaturity...

http://www.libertymind.com/index.php?page_id=257

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Sounds like a green light to me - though god knows what was really said in private. Still I don't see Bibi in fact backing down on Iran if in his judgement he feels he has to attack. The American public from polls I'm reading support stopping Iran. We may be in for an interesting year with some surprises.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Any Obama speech tells us what he wants us to believe, and nothing more. Once in a while, an unrehearsed offhand comment actually tells us what he thinks.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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