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Monday, May 25, 2015

Obama’s dangerous misconceptions of the world

Bloomberg Photo Service 'Best of the Week': U.S. President Barack Obama, left, looks on as Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister, speaks in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, March 3, 2014. Obama urged Netanyahu to "seize the moment" to make peace, saying time is running out to negotiate an Israeli-Palestinian agreement. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg *** Local Caption *** Barack Obama; Benjamin NetanyahuPresident Obama with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office last year. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

By Jennifer Rubin

President Obama remains impervious to world events that do not comport with his singular goal — a deal with Iran, which by virtue of his desperation will bear little resemblance to the “good deal” he promised was possible. In three instances last week, we got a peek into his motives and thinking. It was disturbing, to say the least.
The first revelation concerns the war against the Islamic State. On the heels of the defeats in Ramadi and Palmyra, the president gives no indication he is considering a dramatic course correction in the war against the Islamic State. More horrifying than the losses we have suffered is his determined passivity. “Administration officials now suggest the fight against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria could last longer than three years, a pessimistic projection which would push the conflict well into the first term of the next president,” reports the Wall Street Journal. In essence, Obama no longer is trying to win with any dispatch; he is merely going to leave it to the next president to clean up — regardless of the deaths incurred, the atrocities committed and the territory lost. (“Administration officials, however, argue the only long-term solution is for Iraqis and Syrians to fight their own fights, while conceding Mr. Obama’s refusal to deploy American combat troops means this will be a longer campaign. . . . U.S. officials previously have spoken of a three-year commitment in Islamic State fight since it began in August, but more in terms of a limit on U.S. involvement.”) And to top it off, he relies on a false choice in order to justify a strategy not designed to win: “The White House has cast critics of the president’s strategy as advocates of another U.S. invasion of Iraq although no lawmaker or presidential candidate has suggested that option.” The president’s cynicism and irresponsibility are quite remarkable.
The second revealing episode came in a speech at a Washington synagogue. Obama emotionally recalled Israel in the 1960s (when it was far weaker and less prosperous than it is now) before saying something truly extraordinary: “It is precisely because I care so deeply about the state of Israel — it’s precisely because, yes, I have high expectations for Israel the same way I have high expectations for the United States of America — that I feel a responsibility to speak out honestly about what I think will lead to long-term security and to the preservation of a true democracy in the Jewish homeland.” Acknowledging the Palestinians’ refusal to accept Israel he insisted that “it is worthwhile for us to keep up the prospect, the possibility of bridging divides and being just, and looking squarely at what’s possible but also necessary in order for Israel to be the type of nation that it was intended to be in its earliest founding.”
In other words, it is only because he loves you so much, Israel, that he holds you to a different standard than the rest of the world and that he demands Israel meet his own conception of Israeli democracy (“type of nation that it was intended to be in its earliest founding”). The insistence that Israel be treated differently than other nations and that others can define what is good for it is a sly but all too common form of anti-Israel rhetoric.
In a brilliant piece, David Bernstein points out, “Obama pined for the days when a minority Ashkenazic secular elite dominated Israel in every sphere, including through state control of the economy.” And worse still,  Obama sees Israel through a lens not of Zionism but of modern American Jewish liberals. (“if the point is that Obama came to support Israel because he saw in Israel a fully-realized version 0f the Religious Action Committee of Reform Judaism, he’s right to be disappointed in Netanyahu, but wrong to think that Israel ever aspired to such an ideal. Not only do American Jewry and Israeli Jewry have very different ideological influences, but they have very different political cultures and demographies.”) In short, he loves Israel, just not the real Israel.
Finally, in an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg Obama made a bizarre assertion that seemed to shock his friendly interviewer:
Goldberg: . . .  So you’ve argued, quite eloquently in fact, that the Iranian regime has at its highest levels been infected by a kind of anti-Semitic worldview. . . . And yet, you’ve also argued that the regime in Tehran—a regime you’ve described as anti-Semitic, among other problems that they have—is practical, and is responsive to incentive, and shows signs of rationality. So I don’t understand how these things fit together in your mind.
Obama: Well the fact that you are anti-Semitic, or racist, doesn’t preclude you from being interested in survival. It doesn’t preclude you from being rational about the need to keep your economy afloat; it doesn’t preclude you from making strategic decisions about how you stay in power; and so the fact that the supreme leader is anti-Semitic doesn’t mean that this overrides all of his other considerations. . . .
Goldberg: And they make irrational decisions—
Obama: They may make irrational decisions with respect to discrimination, with respect to trying to use anti-Semitic rhetoric as an organizing tool. At the margins, where the costs are low, they may pursue policies based on hatred as opposed to self-interest. . .
In other words, the very nature of the regime — apocalyptic, anti-Western, anti-modern and above all else anti-Israel — has no bearing whatsoever on his assessment of a potential deal. According to Obama, Iran wouldn’t let a little thing like devotion to a world rid of Jews get in the way of improving its gross domestic product and getting along better with the West.
This misconception about the regime with which Obama is dealing is terrifying, to be candid. Yes, if Iran were Denmark, he would be crafting a fine deal, but if Iran is Iran, does it really make sense to let it keep its nuclear infrastructure, get sanctions relief up front and reach a point when it has an industrial-sized nuclear weapons program? Only if you believe all that anti-Semitism is beside the point, not a central facet of the regime, do you believe Iran would abide by a deal or change over time. Only if you understand that its motives are based on a nihilistic version of Islam can you appreciate how dangerous his outlook is.
Whether it is his cynical disinterest in fighting to defeat the Islamic State; his embrace of a double-standard for Israel and a definition of its national mission as one that comports with his own liberalism; or a bizarrely inaccurate view of Iran, the president repeatedly revealed last week that he fundamentally misunderstands the world. No wonder the policies that flow from his flawed ideas are such a disaster.

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