Obama’s double talk (ISRAEL HAYOM OP-ED) Dr. Haim Shine 03/28/12)
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There is an old Hebrew proverb that “walls have ears.” This saying is
a warning to people to speak carefully – you never know who is
listening, even in private discussions.
U.S. President Barack Obama learned this simple and obvious lesson
more than once. The first time was last November, when he exchanged
unflattering remarks about Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with
French President Nicolas Sarkozy, and they were embarrassingly caught
on tape and widely reported. The second time was two days ago at a
nuclear security summit in South Korea when an open microphone picked
up a private conversation between Obama and Russian President Dmitry
Medvedev that was later broadcast around the world.
I would smile about these mishaps and attribute them to Obama’s
disregard for open microphones if the remarks he made had not been so
alarming. What he said was serious, and should concern anyone who
cares about the world. The credibility of the U.S. president is a
strategic weapon in the global battle against the forces of evil,
which, for some reason, get support from China and Russia.
The topic of conversation between Obama and Medvedev was the planned
deployment of an American missile shield on European soil – a plan
initiated by former U.S. President George W. Bush. Russia obviously
objected to the plan and vowed retaliatory measures. Obama, without
realizing that the conversation was being recorded, asked Medvedev
not to pressure him on this issue until after the upcoming election,
when he would have more “flexibility” – or, in other words, have the
freedom to ax this plan, which is considered a first line of defense
in the event of a missile attack on the West.
The conclusion reached from this exchange is harsh and frightening.
Basic security decisions are being dictated by election concerns. Or,
more accurately, the U.S. is speaking with two different voices. One
American voice targets its constituents at home and another,
different voice speaks to foreign audiences. How can the U.S.’s
allies take American promises seriously when they are affected by
political campaign dictates?
This double message also affects the Middle East. The issue that
troubles Israel most, and justifiably, is the nuclearization of Iran.
It is a palpable and existential threat for the state of Israel.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has gone to great lengths to
convince the world to confront the Iranian nuclear issue. In light of
a U.S. promise to spearhead diplomatic and economic efforts to stop
Iran’s nuclear program, Israel agreed to hold off on a military
strike, even though a delay could make a future strike more
difficult. Israel, like others, hopes that sanctions will prevent
Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. But its leaders have been
operating on the assumption that if sanctions fail, the U.S. would
follow through with its promise that "all options are on the table."
Considering Obama’s recent behavior, I wonder whether his aggressive
declarations on Iran are perhaps nothing more than campaign promises
aimed at regaining the Jewish vote that he lost due to his policies
toward Israel. Will he renege on his promises on Iran after the
election, knowing that he can’t run for another term?
When the president of the U.S. reveals that there is a gap between
what he thinks and what he says in the lead-up to elections, any
freedom-seeking person should be concerned.
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