Alone Again, Naturally

John Reed in today’s Financial Times:

Atem lo levad (“You are not alone”), the US president intoned in American-accented Hebrew, channelling the same spirit of solidarity that John F. Kennedy invoked when he declared “Ich bin ein Berliner” in blockaded West Berlin in 1963.

Israelis are now recalling Mr Obama’s speech ruefully after his decision to refer any military action against Syria to Congress. Asked afterwards about how the decision made them feel, many offered up this word: “alone”.

Their worry is not that Israel is being left alone to cope with Syria, whose war Israel’s government and most of its people want no direct part in.

The fear – and it is a big one – is about the message America’s perceived wavering on Syria sends to its bigger and much more powerful ally: Iran.


If you draw a red line, you had better mean it. Israel would not be afraid today — and Iran emboldened — if President Prevaricator had just kept his big trap shut. Instead, the two most likely outcomes facing us are:

•Obama suffers what amounts to a no-confidence vote as Congress denies him the authority he says he already has, but he would like them to give him even more of.

•Obama gets his authority and fires some missiles at Syria to no practical effect, at which point Emperor New Clothes declares victors, or escalates the conflict even more fruitlessly.

There are other options, most even worse and some slightly better. But these strike me as the most likely.


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