March 8, 2012

Time to wake up to Obama's hard line on Iran... or not.

Most of the remaining Republican candidates for President made visits to the recent AIPAC Policy Conference, forcefully decrying President Obama's presumed failure to take seriously Iran's threat to Israel's security. In fact, the Obama administration has enacted a series of tough measures unilaterally, led the United Nations Security Council to adopt a succession of unprecedented sanctions against the Islamic Republic, and pushed a hard line in major international fora including the International Atomic Energy Agency. Both in purpose and in result, President Obama has been more committed to actually stopping Iran's nuclear program than any predecessor, including George the Tsadik, ie., former President George W. Bush (43).

Having recently refocused my career onto more domestic policy issues, I was not able to attend this year's AIPAC events. But I imagine the Republican candidates were all welcomed with ecstatic applause for each of their admonishments against the President. While that is a shame, and a farce, I do not think it will change the President's own commitment to doing what it takes to stop Iran -- and that includes NOT broadcasting military intentions while sanctions and international support are still in the balance.

Many pro-Israel and pro-Republican Jews still do not trust President Obama when it comes to Israel, or to many other concerns. On Israel, the objective evidence appears to be the friction and coldness remaining between him and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. It seems the Prime Minister needs to 'feel the love', though without reciprocity -- since Netanyahu's allies in America were talking down Barack Obama months before he'd even been elected.

And yet, for all the atmospherics, Obama has done nothing to punish Israel for accelerating expansion of settlements -- he's even backed off the peace process, which was an underlying goal of the Likud government. President Bush (41) had held up billions in loan guarantees for Israel to resettle Soviet Jews, all because of... settlements; he even publicly impugned AIPAC -- the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. It was the late President Ford (also a Republican) who threatened to withhold military shipments if Israel didn't cooperate on Middle East peace. But somehow, it just doesn't matter...

Even putting aside the subjective case against President Obama's pro-Israel credentials, it just isn't credible to argue that he's weak or ineffective on Iran. Does the pro-Israel right wing really expect a "Bring 'em on" moment from this President, with the accompanying alienation of most of the governments we need since Bush squandered U.S. global prestige? I think they just expect him to leave the White House, and not let the door knob hit him on his way out. The good news is, it just doesn't matter. Obama will continue to push hard on Iran, even though he doesn't get to 'feel the love', and he will most probably win re-election.

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