After his press conference today, many are left scratching their heads over President Obama's policy on Israel and Iran. In the days leading up to his recent meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu, Obama made a series of statements in which he appeared to rattle the sabre at Iran and give strong backing to Israel.
"Don't call my bluff," he Bushianly blustered to the Mullahs. He expressed his support for Israel, using the now much-quoted unpresidential and childish colloquialism that the U.S. has Israel's "back."
He went to the AIPAC convention and, once more, brazenly proclaimed himself the most pro-Israeli president in history.
But earlier today, the president seemed to "walk back" these statements. He described his "got your back" proclamation as merely a description of the United States' long-standing, historical support for Israel. He insisted there is still time to make a decision about how best to handle Iran and bemoaned the repercussions of a "premature" attack.
So here is how best to understand the sum of Obama's words: they mean nothing.
As on countless matters over the past three years, the president feints towards a certain policy or a potential compromise for political reasons, only to subsequently, and on a dime, disavow his former statements either in word or deed.
Feint: We should have a summit with Republicans so I can hear their ideas on healthcare reform and try to incorporate some of them into my final bill.
Outcome: All of the Republican ideas are ridiculous; we'll do it my way.
Feint: I am for an "all of the above" energy policy.
Outcome: Advocacy for more oil drilling is merely a political bumper sticker that will not help us produce more oil.
Feint: Come, Catholic bishops, let's discuss how we can resolve the contraception mandate problem.
Outcome: Sorry, we are mandating you provide free birth control and abortion drugs for your employees. What else did you want to discuss?
The obvious end driving Obama's "policy" is his desire to contain Israel, not Iran, because he is afraid of the political consequences of an Israeli attack.
Now, no one wants a war in the Middle East. However, many of us understand the dire effects of permitting the Iranians to obtain a nuclear bomb. For those who see national security, and Israel's survival, as the paramount concerns, the costs of military action are likely outweighed by the benefit of preventing a nuclear Iran.
But these are not Obama's principal concerns; his re-election is his primary concern. In short, he fears the complexities and consequences, including high gas prices, that would flow from an Israeli strike. He does not wish to be pulled into a serious military conflict that might impede his ability to continue his vast expansion of federal power and his "fundamental transformation" of American society.
Obama has cut, and plans to cut, nothing from the federal budget, save for his gutting of the military. He wants to reduce American power and influence around the globe because, essentially, he wants to spend more money on a giant welfare state and has leftist moral qualms about the use and projection of American power. Just review the opening year of his Administration when he was more frank about his views during his magical healing tour of the world. His plans and outlook cannot withstanding a war with Iran.
Obama wants to campaign on ending wars, not starting them: Look I ended the war in Iraq! Who cares about the consequences? I just declared victory and left. And we're fleeing Afghanistan, have no fear! A few more apologies and we're gone! I surged troops, it worked, we're leaving, understand? I'm great.
Moreover, the president does not care for Israel and clearly loathes its prime minister. As a standard-issue leftist, Obama was always sympathetic to the Palestinians and hostile to Israel. The fact that he indignantly casts himself as Israel's greatest champion is laughable, almost satiric. Again, just review his record. Recall Netanyahu's previous White House visit: Bibi, could you throw this paper in the Dumpster you'll pass on your exit from the White House? You'll be going through the way we take out the garbage. I'll be at dinner; call me when you've agreed upon world peace so I can take credit. I'm great.
In Netanyahu, Obama confronts a serious man, an experienced, conservative, independent figure who will not fawn over Obama's brilliance or simply reinforce the president's jaundiced and naive worldview. Netanyhu is committed, no matter the priorities of the White House, to protecting his nation against a nuclear attack by Islamic fascists. This attitude is not becoming a client in Caesar's presence.
And so it is, as always, best to discount Obama's rhetoric and look to his actions and his record. The president will say what he feels he must for political cover--he stands squarely with Israel. But, when he can, he'll back away, refuse to offer specifics and continue to leave himself off-ramps; then he'll become annoyed when anyone dares to suggest his statements are contradictory. His surrogates will continue to argue that sanctions can and will work, that we have time, that we don't even really know for sure Iran's intentions and on and on. If only this could all wait until after the election!
But we have Israel's "back", of course. Obama can clearly see its back, because he is aggressively leading from behind once more.