(Updated) Gov. Palin stunned by Obama’s attempt to bully Netanyahu during Goldberg interview
Posted by Dr. Fay on March 4, 2014
Posted on Governor Palin’s Facebook page yesterday:
I find this stunning – scary, sad, and stunning. On the eve of Netanyahu’s visit, President Obama announces to the world that he shall tell Israel’s prime minister what to do; he’ll lay blame for regional unrest on Israel and command they adopt an Obama-sanctioned “peace plan” that requires Israel to concede even more land and authority. Truly stunning.If He Believes It, It Must Be Som.weeklystandard.comOn the eve of the Netanyahu visit to Washington, President Obama gave a lengthy interview to Jeffrey Goldberg that shows a chief executive who has learned next to nothing about the world in his five years in office. First, kudos to Goldberg: he pressed Obama repeatedly, challenging vague…
Here is the article by Elliott Abrams at The Weekly Standard that she linked to:
If He Believes It, It Must Be SoObama’s scary interview.
On the eve of the Netanyahu visit to Washington, President Obama gave a lengthy interview to Jeffrey Goldberg that shows a chief executive who has learned next to nothing about the world in his five years in office.
First, kudos to Goldberg: he pressed Obama repeatedly, challenging vague formulations and seeking clarity. Goldberg pushed Obama hard, especially on Iran and Syria.
Obama isn’t good off the cuff, especially when challenged; he is far better with a prepared speech. And what emerged is an awful portrait of the president and his conception of the world.
Take Syria. Here’s what Obama said:
“I think those who believe that two years ago, or three years ago, there was some swift resolution to this thing had we acted more forcefully, fundamentally misunderstand the nature of the conflict in Syria and the conditions on the ground there. … Over the last two years I have pushed our teams to find out what are the best options in a bad situation. … But I’ve looked at a whole lot of game plans, a whole lot of war plans, a whole bunch of scenarios, and nobody has been able to persuade me that us taking large-scale military action even absent boots on the ground, would actually solve the problem. And those who make that claim do so without a lot of very specific information.”
Who are these people who have inadequate information, misunderstand the conflict in Syria, and think there is much more the United States could have done? They include both of Obama’s secretaries of state, Clinton and Kerry, his former defense secretary Leon Panetta, and his former CIA director David Petraeus—all of whom wanted much more U.S. support for the Syrian rebels. And perhaps more to the point, take the case of Fred Hof.
Hof has been working on Syria and the broader Middle East since the 1970s, first as a career Army officer and then for the State Department. He was given the rank of ambassador and the title of “special adviser” on Syria by Obama in 2012. Hof has left the government and is now a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, where he writes regularly about Syria at the Council’s web site. He knows far more about Syria than Mr. Obama and saw the same intelligence Mr. Obama did (in fact, he no doubt read a lot more of it). And what he writes is filled with growing anguish and anger about Obama’s failure to act in the face of mass murder by the criminal regime in Damascus. But to Obama, any such criticism “fundamentally misunderstands…conditions on the ground there,” which of course only Obama really understands.
Obama’s “arguments” about Syria in the Goldberg interview are insulting to his former (and, in Kerry’s case, current) top advisers, whose advice he rejected, and misleading about their advice. He describes a situation where ignorant critics seek “large scale military action,” which is akin to the administration’s claim that those who want sanctions on Iran are “warmongers.” But that is a false description, for what was recommended time after time was serious help to the rebels, and a one-time strike (“incredibly small,” said Kerry, not “large scale”) at chemical weapons assets. So we have the president deriding those who disagreed with him—who include his top aides and top experts—and refusing, even now, to understand that his policy of passivity in Syria has produced nearly the worst of all possible worlds: 150,000 dead, 6 million homeless, and a menacing gathering of perhaps 25,000 jihadists at the heart of the Middle East.
On Israel, Obama was harsh and unfriendly to Netanyahu just days before the Netanyahu visit—quite a welcome to Washington. But the errors of his own analysis are striking. He says we must give the Palestinians “the dignity of a state,” but the Tunisians and Egyptians and other Arabs who rebelled in the “Arab Spring” had a state. They lacked dignity because that state treated them with contempt, giving them no real freedom and jailing them if they asked for it. Under Mr. Obama corruption in the Palestinian Authority has exploded and they have gone five additional years without an election.
Mr. Obama says this:
“Palestinians would still prefer peace. They would still prefer a country of their own that allows them to find a job, send their kids to school, travel overseas, go back and forth to work without feeling as if they are restricted or constrained as a people.”
If they would also prefer freedom of the press and of speech, and free elections, and an independent court system, and a government that does not steal their money, well, that isn’t of much interest to Mr. Obama. It isn’t even worth mentioning. So he would give the Palestinians the “dignity” that led to oppression and uprisings elsewhere in the Arab world, and seems to have no interest in the actual conditions of political life in the state he would create.
The burden of making peace is put entirely on Israeli shoulders. PA president Abbas (whose term ended five years ago, and who is surrounded by growing corruption) is portrayed as a lovely man ready for peace—no mention that he refused it when it was offered by then-prime minister Olmert in 2008. Is Abbas really ready, now, to sign what he would not back then: an agreement that ends the conflict entirely and finally tells Palestinian “refugees” that they have no right to go to Israel? An agreement that acknowledges Israel as a Jewish state? These doubts are never acknowledged by Obama, who assumes that the only problems are on the Israeli side.
Then comes the kind of vague threat that Secretary Kerry has also made, in his case perhaps without meaning to:
“What we also know is that Israel has become more isolated internationally. We had to stand up in the Security Council in ways that 20 years ago would have involved far more European support, far more support from other parts of the world when it comes to Israel’s position.”
Now in truth the Obama administration has stood up in the Security Council with great reluctance, trying desperately at times to avoid vetoes of anti-Israel resolutions that deserved a quick and easy refusal. And that American reluctance to side clearly and early on with Israel in the Security Council has encouraged the Europeans to draw back as well, so the Obama account has it backwards. But the message remains clear: if Israel refuses the terms we give it, life will become tougher.
The difference between an American prediction of greater international isolation and an American promise that it will come is not very great.
OBAMA: “if you see no peace deal and continued aggressive settlement construction — and we have seen more aggressive settlement construction over the last couple years than we’ve seen in a very long time — if Palestinians come to believe that the possibility of a contiguous sovereign Palestinian state is no longer within reach, then our ability to manage the international fallout is going to be limited.
GOLDBERG: Willingness, or ability?
OBAMA: Not necessarily willingness, but ability to manage international fallout is going to be limited. And that has consequences.
As to that “aggressive settlement construction,” it is worth noting that at Obama’s request Netanyahu suspended construction in settlements for ten months in 2009. Apparently that gesture, its political cost for Netanyahu, and the fact that it gained Netanyahu and Israeli absolutely nothing from the Palestinians or the Europeans, is now forgotten.
Israelis remember, as perhaps Mr. Obama does not, that getting out of Gaza required Ariel Sharon to fight a two-year political battle that caused him to lose his party: he had to leave Likud and found a new party, Kadima. And that was about Gaza, where only 7,500 Jews lived in a small number of settlements in an area of no religious significance. The political battle over the West Bank would be far greater, so Obama is telling Netanyahu he must risk his own and his party’s future—on faith in both Abbas’s reliability and Mr. Obama’s own. In the Sharon case, he took the risks only when he had secured an absolute promise of support from George W. Bush, whom he viewed as a reliable partner. Mr. Obama did not help his cause when, upon coming to office, he disregarded all the pledges Bush made to Sharon in 2004. In Kerry’s negotiations, any real peace deal would be reached next year or in 2016, when Obama will be a lame duck. Who knows what American pledges will be worth, when after all Obama disregarded all of the ones his own predecessor made.
It’s pretty obvious to all analysts that Iran does not fear an American military strike much these days, especially after Mr. Obama’s failure to act in Syria last summer. But Obama denies it, referring to himself in the third person as someone “who has shown himself willing to take military action.” Drones, sure; a quick raid as well. But in Libya and Syria, he showed himself extremely reluctant to take military action. Remember “leading from behind?” If he genuinely thinks he is viewed as a scary guy with his finger near the trigger, we all have a problem.
Goldberg pushes him, asking why (as is obvious) no one in the Gulf believes Obama. “I don’t think it is personal,” says the president; the problem is them, not him, and his analysis is therapeutic: change is always scary, and they are having trouble catching up with it. But talk with Gulf Arabs and one finds quickly that it is in fact quite personal: they don’t trust Mr. Obama. They believe his handling of Iran and Syria and for that matter of Russia have made the world a more dangerous place.
Change is apparently not scary to Mr. Obama, who is confident all his policies are right. Those who disagree are uninformed, or itching for conflict, or ignorant about the risks they will soon face, or sadly unable to adapt to world events. This is the Obama who said of his own nomination that “this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.” If he believes it, it must be so. The Goldberg interview reveals that five years in, nothing has changed.
Senator Ted Cruz tweeted this remark:
@AIPAC in DC why’s Obama tougher on Netanyahu than Putin? Should isolate Russia not negotiate w/ Israel’s security http://www.newsmax.com/Jeffrey-Goldberg/israel-united-states-future-netanyahu/2014/03/02/id/555576
The majority of Americans do not support Obama and Kerry’s hardline and often adversarial approach to Israel. We do not forget that Israel is America’s closest ally in the Middle East. And we do not forget that the State of Israel is the ancestral homeland of the Jews.
It is very troubling that the Obama administration continues to pressure Israel to cede land for an elusive peace with those who do not even recognize the Jewish State and to weaken their national security in the process. God refers to Israel as His land in Joel 3:2. How then can Israel give away God’s land?
New International Version (NIV)
2 I will gather all nations
and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat.[a]
There I will put them on trial
for what they did to my inheritance, my people Israel,
because they scattered my people among the nations
and divided up my land.
- Joel 3:2 Jehoshaphat means the Lord judges; also in verse 12.
May America not be guilty of dividing God’s land. And may we vote those out of office who are not friends of Israel and who invite God’s judgment on our nation.
Our friend Benyamin Korn at Jews for Sarah brought this excellent article by Jonathan S. Tobin to my attention:
The last time President Obama ambushed Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, the Israeli gave as good as he got. This time he turned the other cheek. The reason for this turnabout by the normally combative prime minister tells us everything we need to know about the relative strength of the positions of these two leaders.
While the assumption on the part of most pundits was that Obama has Netanyahu in a corner, the latter’s reaction to the assault the president launched at him in an interview with Bloomberg’s Jeffrey Goldberg this past weekend shows us this isn’t true. Though Netanyahu had to be infuriated by the president’s single-minded determination to blame Israel for the lack of peace as well as his obtuse praise for Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, he felt no need to publicly respond to it. Far from feeling threatened by Obama’s tirade, Netanyahu’s decision to ignore the president’s attack shows that he understands the dynamics of both the peace process and U.S. foreign policy actually give him the upper hand over the weak and increasingly out-of-touch lame duck in the White House.
Obama’s decision to give his faithful admirer Goldberg an interview in which he blasted Israel was odd since it came at a time when the Israelis have shown their willingness to accept Secretary of State John Kerry’s framework for Middle East peace negotiations and the Palestinians have publicly declared the same document to be unacceptable. More than that, the fact that he chose this particular moment to get in another shot at his least favorite foreign leader just when the world was focused on Russia’s seizure of the Crimea and awaiting an American response to this aggression can only be considered bizarre. Not only did this make his attack on Netanyahu seem both petty and personal, it also guaranteed that the international media that might have otherwise have jumped on the story was distracted elsewhere and diminished its impact. But Netanyahu’s seeming dismissal of this broadside shows that Obama is not in as strong a position vis-à-vis Netanyahu as he thinks.
Back in May 2011, Obama chose to give a speech attacking Israel’s stand on the peace process and demanding that it accept the 1967 borders as the starting point for negotiations just as before Netanyahu arrived in Washington. Obama had picked fights with Israel in 2009 and 2010 over Jerusalem and settlements but this was a direct attack on the prime minister. Netanyahu’s response was just as direct. When he met with Obama in the White House, he launched into a lengthy lecture to the president about Israeli security that made it clear to the president that he would not take the insult lying down. Netanyahu doubled down on that the next day when he received more cheers while addressing a joint meeting of Congress than the president had ever gotten.
But this time, Netanyahu chose to ignore the president’s slights. There were no public or even off-the-record remarks from his party expressing anger. And in his speech to AIPAC today, Netanyahu barely mentioned the president.
Far from needing to defend himself on the American stage as he felt it important to do in 2011, Netanyahu now understands that forbearance is the best way to respond to Obama’s provocations. Try as he might to put the onus for the lack of peace on the Jewish state, Netanyahu knows it will always be the Palestinians who say “no” to peace, not the Israelis.
Similarly, as much as he must have been itching to directly take on Obama’s appeasement of Tehran, Netanyahu realizes that it is Iran’s lust for a nuclear weapon that will do more to undermine the administration’s negotiating tactics than anything he can say.
By eschewing any desire to pressure the Palestinians to make peace, the president more or less guaranteed that Kerry must ultimately fail. And by knuckling under the Iranians in the interim agreement signed by Kerry last November, President Obama has also embarked on a path that cannot lead him to the achievement of his stated goals in the current round of talks.
Though Obama’s attacks did real damage to Israel’s position, the prime minister is right to refuse to take the bait. Netanyahu cannot have failed to see that, far from offering him the opportunity to effectively pressure the Israelis, the president is floundering in his second term especially on foreign policy. The most effective answer to Obama’s taunts is patience since events will soon overtake the president’s positions on both the Palestinian and Iranian fronts, as well as in other debacles around the globe that have popped up because of Obama’s weak leadership. Though the disparity in the relative power of their positions inevitably means Netanyahu must worry about Obama’s barbs, the bottom line here is that it is the president and not the prime minister who is in big trouble.