In the last US presidential debate, incumbent Barack Obama sort of promised to save us. His exact words were: “If Israel is attacked, America will stand with Israel.” This assurance in itself – be it sincere or otherwise – should send shivers down Israeli spines.
There is, of course the question of what “stand with Israel” actually means. The phrase is too vague for comfort. But the cynical spin-potential isn’t our greatest cause for worry.
Our primary concern should be engendered by another phrase, “if Israel is attacked.” Maybe we’re ungrateful, but heck, we wouldn’t like to find ourselves in that deep existential hole where we’re bleeding, can’t help ourselves and must depend on the dubious goodwill of foreign benefactors like Obama to come – be it gallantly or reluctantly – to our rescue.
The better plan is to preempt the danger to our continued existence and thereby obviate the need to save us. That’s the inherent rationale in confronting Iran’s ayatollahs with red lines as they ramp up their atomic ambitions. But Obama is leery of red lines since these might be construed – Allah forefend – as an ultimatum, and the nature of ultimatums is that they might lead to a showdown.
That isn’t the impression the current American administration wishes to impart – not even in a moot manner. Washington’s philosophy is live (prolong Western non-intervention) and let live (let Iran behave pretty much as it had been), even if the upshot is that Israel might have a harder time staying alive when all this reaches its inevitable culmination.
There is something enticing in Obama’s assertion – even if not explicitly so articulated – that if America lets Iran be, Iran would reciprocate in kind and ignore America with equally gracious consideration. If America only talks the talk about the Iranian nuclear threat, no Iranian excesses would come back to haunt America.
Whatever other inconveniences accrue from Iranian escalations, there’d be no skin off sensitive Washington noses. Those in harm’s way – in a word, Israelis – are therefore required not to endanger the splendid stalemate.
The derivative stability of deadlock awards perks to too many players to be dismissed selfishly by Israel. It serves Iran, which can use all the extra time it gets to develop its bomb. It can serve Obama, who needs to get to Election Day un-bothered. It can serve Europe whose penchant for perfidy wasn’t consumed by the roaring fires of the 20th century. Not least, it can serve the Russian/Chinese quest for lucre.
Obama can stoically stomach a scenario in which only Israel loses. It’s no big stretch to imagine Obama paraphrasing what arch-appeaser Neville Chamberlain said about selling out Czechoslovakia in his address to the British people on September 27, 1938, a couple of fateful days before the signing of the infamous Munich Agreement:
“We cannot in all circumstances undertake to involve the whole British Empire in war simply on her [Czechoslovakia’s] account. If we have to fight it must be on larger issues than that.”
The entirely credible Obama version would be: “We cannot in all circumstances undertake to involve the United States in war simply on Israel’s account. If we have to fight it must be on larger issues than that.”
Mind you, Obama swears up and down that he’s not inimical to us and has Israel’s best interests at heart. However, in his infinite wisdom he knows better than us what’s best for us, and that invariably meshes with what he sees as best for himself.
The Obama-Chamberlain analogy isn’t novel but few may realize just how deep the resemblance in reasoning and rhetoric runs. Obama’s attitude to troublesome little Israel is chillingly like Chamberlain’s was vis-à-vis the unfortunate Czechs. Listen to how Chamberlain defended his duplicity toward Czechoslovakia:
“Since I first went to Berchtesgaden, more than 20,000 letters and telegrams have come to No. 10, Downing Street. Of course, I have been able to look at a tiny fraction of them, but I have seen enough to know that the people who wrote did not feel that they had such a cause for which to fight, if they were asked to go to war in order that the Sudeten Germans might not join the Reich.”
See? Apparent understanding for the bully’s point of view. That point of view was vehemently elaborated upon in Nuremberg a little over two weeks earlier on September 12. There Hitler hoarsely hectored that Czechoslovakia was a fraudulent state, whose existence violated international law, much as the Arab/Muslim invective delegitimizes Israel in our time.
As Israel’s democratically elected prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, is now demonized by laid-back liberals and intellectual sloths, so there was self-serving resonance in 1938 to Hitler’s charges that Czechoslovakia’s President Edvard Benes sought to exterminate the Sudeten Germans.
Presaging the Arab refugee mythology, Hitler boldly asserted that ogre Czechoslovakia expelled over 600,000 Germans from their homes. He further accused Benes of assorted blood-curling war crimes and of denying the Sudentens their due self-determination. The icing on Hitler’s Bavarian pastry was to paint little friendless Czechoslovakia as the aggressor whose belligerence threatened Germany.
The world’s appetite for calumny has clearly not abated since those dark days. We need only pay heed to Obama’s not-so- subtle justification of the Palestinian “narrative.” That was eminently evident in his June 2009 flattery fest to Islam at Cairo University, where he attributed Israel’s creation to the Holocaust (as per the Arabs propaganda that a guilty Europe dumped unwanted Jews in their midst) and he bewailed “the Palestinian pain of displacement” (in mind-boggling omission of the fact that this displacement was self-inflicted, resulting from a genocidal attack three years post-Holocaust on newborn Israel).
The Czechs, Chamberlain stressed in his day, weren’t popular with his constituents: “That is how they are feeling. That is my answer to those who say that we should have told Germany weeks ago that, if her army crossed the border of Czechoslovakia, we should be at war with her. We had no treaty obligations and no legal obligations to Czechoslovakia and if we had said that, we feel that we would have received no support from the people of this country.
By only changing place names, Obama could have regaled his radicalized political home base with the exact same sentiments about not getting entangled on account of pesky Israel. Obama indeed might have fulminated in Chamberlain’s identical vein:
“When we were convinced, as we became convinced, that nothing any longer would keep the Sudetenland within the Czechoslovakian State, we urged the Czech Government as strongly as we could to agree to the cession of territory, and to agree promptly.”
We Israelis should recognize the above as the all-too-familiar arm-twisting pressure for concessions, goodwill gestures, confidence-building measures and placing no obstacles in the path of peace. Obama habitually resorts to all these ploys and now urges Israel as strongly as Chamberlain did Czechoslovakia, albeit more cloyingly (due to vote-getting constraints), to learn to tolerate the Iranian nuke menace.
Chamberlain went on:
“To accuse us of having by that advice betrayed the Czechoslovakian State is simply preposterous. What we did was to save her from annihilation and give her a chance of new life as a new State, which involves the loss of territory and fortifications, but may perhaps enable her to enjoy in the future and develop a national existence under a neutrality and security comparable to that which we see in Switzerland today.”
Without undue cerebral contortions, we can just hear Obama similarly contending that he is only doing the right thing by the Jewish state, crowing about saving us and giving us unappreciative Israelis “a chance of a new life…,” to enable us “to enjoy in the future and develop a national existence under a neutrality and security comparable to that which we see in Switzerland today.”
Honeyed blandishments aplenty already effuse from Obamaesque lips in one adaptation or another. It’s only our stiff-necked intransigence which prevents us from seeing his light and bowing down in gratitude.
Seventy-four years ago, on the brink of one of the most tragic mistakes of the modern era, Chamberlain summed up in upbeat tones the likes of which could today be enunciated by Obama (save for updated idioms): “Therefore, I think the Government deserve the approval of this House for their conduct of affairs in this recent crisis which has saved Czechoslovakia from destruction and Europe from Armageddon.”
Czechoslovakia was destroyed a few months after Chamberlain had “saved” the beleaguered republic and seduced it with the sweet smells of Swiss success. Within the year World War II broke out. Europe was plunged into an Armageddon of unparalleled horror.
We cannot afford to be likewise saved, i.e. to disregard appeasement’s bitter fruits as we hear Obama’s cabinet members and official spokespersons dissociate the administration unmistakably from any self-defense Israel might mount. The subtext is to signal Iran that Israel would be alone if it disobeys Obama. The Iranians might read this as a green light to unleash hell on Israel.
The Obama administration maintains that there’s still ample time for palaver and sanctions. But why then aren’t the sanctions more stringently enforced, and when will time run out for engaging the undeniably deceitful Iranians in futile prattle?
The reluctance to designate deadlines makes a mockery of the entire process. If all options are indeed on the table, as per Obama, why is none of them even hinted at? The failure to do so suggests more than anything that Obama is about as intent on stopping Ahmadinejad as Chamberlain was on fighting Hitler. But there’s an underlying difference nevertheless.
There’s no way Obama doesn’t know the treacherous nature of his Iranian interlocutors. He isn’t beguiled. Having wasted years of invaluable time, odds are that Obama doesn’t really intend to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
Obama certainly doesn’t want Israel to preempt that probability. He prefers Israel threatened, frightened and in dire need of being saved. That would turn Israel into an ineffectual vassal and earn him eternal Muslim gratitude.
In contrast, Chamberlain was terminally naïve. Near death, he told his son that the fault wasn’t with appeasement: “Everything would have worked out okay if Hitler hadn’t lied to me.”
Not quite cricket.