by Ari Lieberman
Political pundits and politicians have referred to Obama’s antics and excuses as “petulant” and “childish” but this is actually an understatement. Obama’s refusal to meet with Netanyahu and vocal opposition to the prime minister’s pending address is counterproductive and dangerous. At a time when allies need to display unity, Obama advertises growing fissures, fostering uneasiness among regional allies and emboldening the mullahs, whose assertiveness continues to surge.
Well here we go again. It’s no secret that Obama harbors an extreme animus toward Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. He no longer makes any pretense about his dislike for the leader of America’s closest and only democratic ally in the region. It’s out in the open for the entire world, enemies and friends alike, to see.
The instant kerfuffle centers on House Speaker John Boehner’s invitation to Netanyahu to address a special joint session of congress. The White House’s reaction was predictably hostile. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said that the invitation and Netanyahu’s acceptance of it breached established protocol. This was followed by announcements from the White House and the State Department that neither Obama nor Kerry would meet with Netanyahu during his visit. The visit’s proximity to the Israeli elections provided the necessary pretext for the snub.
Let’s make a few things crystal clear. Article 1 of the United States Constitution empowers the United States Congress to extend such an invitation without the need to consult with the White House. The White House may gripe about the unilateral nature of Speaker Boehner’s actions but let us not forget that just one day prior, in his State of the Union address, Obama stated unequivocally that he would veto any congressional effort to impose sanctions on Iran. There was no effort by the POTUS to act in the spirit of bilateralism or address legitimate congressional concerns over Iran’s nuclear program.
Congress has reason to worry. Israel’s Channel 10 reported that the United States has already caved in to 80 percent of Iran’s demands allowing the mullahs to retain some 7,000 centrifuges which would enable them to enrich sufficient quantities of uranium to produce several nuclear bombs within a few months. US official were of course dismissive of the report calling it “nonsense” but the Obama administration has developed a knack for lying. Who among us can forget Obama’s now infamous and blatant deception, “If you like your healthcare plan you can keep your healthcare plan”? But whereas the damage wreaked by Obamacare can be reversed through legislation, the same cannot be said for a nuclear-armed Iran and it appears that Obama’s approach to thwarting that frightening prospect can best be described as lackadaisical.
Indeed, the Islamic Republic has already been caught violating provisions of the interim agreement, feeding UF6 gas into the more advanced IR-5 centrifuges. This serious transgression was allowed to pass without consequence. The negotiations have already dragged on far longer than promised with unwarranted White House extensions and it appears that the White House is prepared to offer the mullahs yet more extensions all while the Iranians continue their nuclear experiments in Parchin and move full speed ahead on ballistic missile development.
In a sign of yet more trouble, an Israeli spy satellite displayed imagery of a new Iranian Inter-continental ballistic missile capable of reaching Europe and beyond. Moreover, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps is maintaining an aggressive posture throughout the region fomenting instability in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Bahrain and Afghanistan. Yemen has become the Islamic Republic’s most recent victim with an Iranian inspired coup by Shiite Houthi rebels. And the Islamic Republic has now been forced to publicly acknowledge that a ranking general and ballistic missile expert liquidated in an Israeli targeted strike, was operating right on Israel’s border on the Golan Heights.
With Iran engaged in so much regional and international mischief, congressional leaders of both parties have expressed concern that the administration is adopting a position reminiscent of Neville Chamberlain’s dealings with Hitler, circa 1938. Notably, ranking Democratic Senator Bob Menendez dryly stated that the Obama administration’s positions on Iran sound “like talking points that come straight out of Tehran;” biting words from an Obama ally.
In light of Obama’s unilateral approach on Iran, the president shouldn’t gripe about unilateral congressional action and this is especially true when one considers the ramifications of a failed Obama policy and the prospect of the world’s premier state sponsor of terrorism – designated as such by the State Department – in possession of nuclear weapons and sophisticated methods of delivery.
Obama somewhat obscenely notes that Boehner and Netanyahu somehow breached diplomatic protocol by extending an invite without first consulting the White House. I would suggest that on the breach of protocol scale, if such a scale existed, calling an allied leader a “chicken-sh*t” and “aspergy” among other pejoratives, is a far greater offense. The president should know by now that people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.
Moreover, Obama’s lame excuse for not meeting Netanyahu doesn’t hold water. Obama noted that he did not wish to meet with Netanyahu so close to Israel’s elections for fear of influencing the result. As an aside, Israelis, who are generally accustomed to strong, statesman-like leaders, don’t think much of Mr. Red Line so a meeting would have at best, no effect and might actually work against Netanyahu’s electoral interests.
The more salient point however, is that under Obama’s logic, two-bit, unelected autocrats like Mahmoud Abbas, unhampered by the democratic process, could be granted an audience with the president at any time while democratically elected leaders are restricted because of the inherent freedoms enjoyed by their citizens; an obscene outcome resulting from convoluted reasoning.
Political pundits and politicians have referred to Obama’s antics and excuses as “petulant” and “childish” but this is actually an understatement. Obama’s refusal to meet with Netanyahu and vocal opposition to the prime minister’s pending address is counterproductive and dangerous. At a time when allies need to display unity, Obama advertises growing fissures, fostering uneasiness among regional allies and emboldening the mullahs, whose assertiveness continues to surge. Underscoring that point, the New York Times, citing anonymous administration sources (cowards always hide behind anonymity) featured a story that took potshots at Netanyahu and Ron Dermer, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, suggesting that the administration appears to be doubling down on its aggressive anti-Netanyahu posture.
It is hard to fathom why Obama maintains such a visceral dislike for Netanyahu. Putting aside the fact that Israel is the only democratic nation in the region and is a critical US ally, Netanyahu has bent over backward to placate an overbearing Obama. Since 2009, Netanyahu, at Obama’s request, initiated an unprecedented 10-month settlement freeze, apologized to Turkey’s fascist leader Erdogan over the flotilla incident, released terrorists with blood-stained hands to Abbas and agreed to a unilateral cease-fire with Hamas that ended up costing the lives of three Israeli soldiers. Still, despite Netanyahu’s efforts to mend fences, Obama’s hatred appears to grow in scope and intensity with each passing day.
It is time for Israeli leaders to recognize that nothing they will do or say will alter Obama’s negative views of the Jewish State. Moreover, the president will continue to appease the mullahs by granting further sanctions relief and more extensions providing them with the delay time necessary to perfect their nefarious plans.
From his actions on Cuba to his immigration policies, Obama has demonstrated a penchant for acting unilaterally and contempt for congress. John Boehner’s invitation to Netanyahu sends a strong signal to the White House that on a national security issue of such critical importance, the president will not be permitted to trample on the Constitution and act unilaterally.
Ari Lieberman is an attorney and former prosecutor who has authored numerous articles and publications on matters concerning the Middle East and is considered an authority on geo-political and military developments affecting the region.
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