Back in 1940, as whodunit author Erle Stanley Gardner’s The Case of the Baited Hook got typically tangled, fictional legal wizard Perry Mason opined to his trusty secretary Della Street that “Every time you stop to figure what the other fellow’s going to do, you unconsciously figure what you’d do in his place.
“The result is that you’re not fighting him, but yourself. You always come to a stalemate. Every time you think of a move, you think of a perfect defense. The best fighters don’t worry about what the other man may do.”
Words to live by – unless, like America’s current commander-in-chief, the last thing you want is to conceive of yourself as a fighter.
Clearly, President Barack Obama didn’t attend the Perry Mason School of Law. Instead he honed his attitudes at Harvard Law. It’s a crucial difference – quite possibly the single biggest danger to global peace and, most immediately and acutely, to Israel.
Regardless of whether he lacks the intellectual integrity to unfetter himself from what was inculcated into him or whether he cannot resist the expediency of exploiting superficial truisms for political ends, Obama appears to expect all international arena players to abide by Harvard conventions. All are required to non-judgmentally tolerate adversarial viewpoints, to submit a priori that no cause is unavoidably more just than any other and to effectively prefer Third World ostensible underdogs with a peeve.
My country, Obama was taught at Harvard, isn’t necessarily more right, democracy isn’t necessarily democratic or superior and belligerents can be soothed with sufficient sympathy, flattery and concessions. Obama’s 2009 tour de force at Cairo University epitomized the ethos of post-hippie-era Harvard.
Its bottom line is that fanatics like Iran’s ayatollahs or the Muslim Brotherhood have compelling grievances and that it behooves us to see things through their eyes. This would, in theory, enable us to get a feel for their strategy and anticipate their tactical moves. They’d thereby be humanized in our view, the fear factor would abate and levelheaded accommodation would ensue.
So while Obama ups his anti-Iranian nukes rhetoric, he simultaneously escalates his pressure to prevent Israel from launching a preemptive operation against Tehran’s nuclear facilities. Despite years of Israel warning and Washington dithering, the plain fact of the matter is that not much has changed. Israel still warns and Obamaesque Washington still dithers.
Despite a tough Senate sanctions bill, Obama is loath to fully impose it. He still palavers about that elusive international coalition to browbeat Iran, although it cannot evade the cognizance of even his most starry-eyed spinmeisters that Russia, China and assorted hangers-on won’t do their utmost to foil Iranian nuclear ambitions (that is, if they at all go through the motions).
Why, then, would the ayatollahs see reason, as Obama supposes they should? Iran consistently receives indications that it isn’t obliged to mend its thuggish ways.
For example, when Obama’s top defense officials underscore the negative consequences of resorting to military means, the Iranians get a message diametrically contradictory to the one Obama insists he’s sending. Rather than abide by his Harvard guidelines, the Iranians deduce that they can proceed with impunity to make whatever mischief strikes their fancy – nuclear or otherwise.
It boggles the mind that at this exceedingly late stage the delusion still persists that Iran can be somehow dissuaded from its nefarious plots, that it’ll be wowed by dynamic diplomacy and see last-minute sense.
Obama may have been given a stick by America’s legislators but he’s hesitant to wield it. He’s still trying to figure out what Ahmadinejad is going to do, which, as per Perry Mason’s insightful observation, means that Obama subconsciously strives to envisage what he’d do in Ahmadinejad’s place.
Here, however, the result isn’t a stalemate because the Iranian bomb becomes a more potent threat with each wasted day. Counting on a miraculous Iranian epiphany is as far-sighted as believing in the blossoming of the Arab spring that has so far only sprouted Muslim Brotherhood weeds throughout the region.
Rarefied Harvard moral relativism, though, can portray invasive noxious weeds as desirable fragrant roses. And so Obama rationalizes that the Brotherhood (its rabidly pro-Nazi roots dismissed from mind) could well become the nurturer of the tardy flowering of democracy and civil liberties in the Arab sphere.
His secretary of state Hillary Clinton confirmed reports that the Obama administration would work with ascendant Islamist parties in the Muslim world.
She’s willing to do business with the infidel- bashers, arguing that they might not be quite as bad as depicted by their deposed antagonists: “For years, dictators told their people they had to accept the autocrats they knew in order to avoid the extremists they feared. Too often we accepted the narrative ourselves.”
The line now is that moderate Islamists comprise the Brotherhood’s mainstream, that they can be counted upon to conduct a sane foreign policy, uphold the rights of women and religious minorities and justify Obama’s Harvard hopes.
They probably will. Just like Tehran’s ayatollahs did.
This is painfully reminiscent of Neville Chamberlain’s foreign secretary Lord Halifax, one of the prime architects of appeasement, who signaled Hitler that German designs on Austria, chunks of Czechoslovakia and Poland weren’t altogether unpalatable to British tastes, so long as German territorial expansion was “peaceful.”
Only after the Axis bully began misbehaving with particular impudence following 1938’s Munich pact did Halifax finally work out that this wasn’t quite cricket. But to his credit Halifax did agonize, even if belatedly, and he did draw some extremely cogent conclusions. “I often think how much easier the world would have been to manage,” he mused, “if Herr Hitler and Signor Mussolini had been at Oxford.”
But they weren’t – just as the entire Middle Eastern coterie of baddies never imbibed Harvard liberalism. However, nothing suits these jihadists better than a leader of the free world who so dutifully complies with Harvard rules. So what if he assumes that they would too. Let him. They’ll do as they please, undeterred because he’s Harvard-bound to consider their perspective.
Israel, in contrast, is ineligible for similar indulgence and is slated to pay the price for Obama’s broadmindedness toward our region’s Muslim warlords.
The onus for quelling the chaos isn’t on the merchants of mass-murder but on Israel.
While Israel doesn’t ask that a single US soldier lay his life on the line for it, neither should Israel’s elected leaders be subjected to diktats whereby they must suppliantly seek permission to save Israel from annihilation. No Israeli government was elected to preside over another Holocaust.
That’s why the Jewish state’s coalition and opposition both must memorize Perry Mason’s precept.
Obama might kid himself that he’s playing for time till after November’s Election Day. Only by then, all bets will likely be off. Obama’s inaction inexorably pushes Israel to the desperate unilateral action it itself is leery of. We cannot remain pawns in Obama’s gamble that Ahmadinejad can be converted to Harvard niceties. Or as Perry Mason reiterated: “You can’t sit back and wait for things to happen to you.”