Will Obama Demand Israeli Disarmament -- Again?

On Jan. 4, Turkish President Abdullah Gul demanded Israeli nuclear disarmament in order to achieve a nuclear free Middle East. Iran’s news agency reported:

TEHRAN (FNA)- Turkish President Abdullah Gul said Ankara believes that Israel’s nuclear disarmament is necessary because it is key to the establishment of a nuclear-free Middle-East.

Speaking to Foreign Affairs magazine, President Gul stressed the importance of eradicating nuclear weapons in the Middle-East and stated that the atomic disarmament of Israel would be the key to resolving outstanding issues regarding Iran’s nuclear energy program.

“That is the way I see it. Because that route will help them solve the fundamental problems in the Middle-East that affect the whole world.”

That is also the policy of the Obama administration, which has been pushing a “nuclear-free Middle East” since the May 2010 United Nations conference on nuclear proliferation. On May 28, 2010, the US cast a “yes” vote for a resolution demanding that Israel adhere to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which would oblige Israel to unilaterally disarm. Israel’s longstanding policy of “nuclear ambiguity” was first adopted in 1969 by then Prime Minister Golda Meir at the request of the Nixon administration. Every American administration since Nixon has backed this policy–until Obama. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu responded to the May 2010 turnaround by calling the UN resolution “deeply flawed and hypocritical,” adding, “It singles out Israel, the Middle East’s only true democracy and the only country threatened with annihilation. Yet the terrorist regime in Iran, which is racing to develop nuclear weapons and which openly threatens to wipe Israel off the map, is not even mentioned in the resolution.”

Obama’s action provoked a storm of protest, and the issue was quietly laid to rest. But it is far from dead. Reuters reported Nov. 24:

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain and the United Nations said on Saturday they hoped a conference aimed at trying to ban nuclear weapons in the Middle East could take place soon after the United States said it would not happen next month as originally planned.

If and when it happens, the conference is likely to be fraught as Iran and Arab states say Israel’s presumed nuclear arsenal is the main threat to security in the region, while Israel and the West see Tehran as the main proliferation danger.

Western diplomats and others believe the conference would make little headway because of that fundamental difference in opinion – something the United States has described as “a deep conceptual gap”.

However, Britain and the conference’s other organizers, which include Russia and the United Nations as well as prospective host Finland, believe it is worth a try anyway and anti-nuclear campaigners would also like to see it take place.

Middle East nuclear disarmament is America’s stated policy. The only question is how to make it happen. A former senior Israeli intelligence official told me that the Obama administration expects Iran to acquire nuclear weapons in the near future. At that point, the official predicted, Obama will propose that both Israel and Iran give up their nuclear arsenal.

After his re-election Obama has more “flexibility,” as he told Russian Prime Minister Dimitri Medvedev over an accidentally open microphone last March.   Since the presidential election, the Obama administration has turned decisively against Israel:

1) Sat on its hands while the Palestine Authority obtained “observer status” at the United Nations, a setback that could not have occurred (as former UN ambassador John Bolton explained)  if the US had used its diplomatic muscle to avert it, as in the past, and advised at least one country to vote for the UN resolution;

2) Tacitly encouraged five European countries to deliver a strong diplomatic rebuke to Israel, according to Israeli diplomats;

3) Denounced Israel for a “pattern of provocation action” that “puts peace further at risk” on Dec. 18–for planning additional homes in an area that every proposed peace agreement in the past twenty years has assigned to Israel, and after the Palestine Authority broke the cardinal rule of the Oslo Process by going to the UN rather than engaging in bilateral negotiations;

4) Proposed Sen. Chuck Hagel (R.-Nebraska) for Secretary of Defense, after “the sentiments he’s expressed about the Jewish lobby border on anti-Semitism,” according to the Anti-Defamation League.

Obama is a radical utopian who identifies deeply with so-called colonial peoples, as I argued back in February 2008 (and Dinesh D’Souza documented vividly in his 2012 film). The more his utopian policies fail–in Libya, Egypt, Syria, and of course Iran–the harder he will push them. Political constraints made him scrap the idea of Israeli nuclear disarmament in May 2010.. Now those constraints are gone. Israel’s friends in Congress will have to draw the line somewhere. The best place and time to draw the line is here and now, on the Hagel nomination.