“Up until now, Dallas hasn’t been afraid of you. And they should be, because you have a very powerful weapon working for you. There is no tomorrow for you, and that makes you all VERY DANGEROUS PEOPLE!!”
—Gene Hackman as Coach Jimmy McGinty in The Replacements
Resetting something from my last post, in supposed outrage over a movie disrespecting Mohammed, rioting mobs stormed our embassy in Cairo and tore up American flags. It turns out rioters (possibly also over the movie, possibly as a 9/11 thing—does it really matter why?) also burned our consulate in Benghazi, Libya, killing our Ambassador and three other Americans. Understand: a U.S. embassy or consulate is every bit sovereign U.S. territory as New York City. So what we have is two armed invasions of U.S. territory and the killing of Americans, which begs two questions of our Commander-in-Chief, whose primary job description is protecting Americans and American interests. One, why weren’t these installations already adequately defended with heavily-armed Marines, especially (and obviously) on the anniversary of 9/11? Two, why is the President giving this breach of our sovereignty and security nothing more than a five minute address in the Rose Garden before heading off to Vegas?
The President “condemns” the actions of the rioters. Oooh. I’m sure they’re so shaken by that they’ll never do it again.
The answer lies in the disorganization and lack of preparedness that results from a complete absence of leadership. Witness the administration’s inability even to get its messaging coordinated. The State Department is apologizing for the movie offending Muslims religious sensibilities, while the White House says it’s not. The State Department says Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel, while the White House says (now) that it is (at least until it’s negotiated away).
The lack of any kind of a rudder, backbone, or sensitivity to the seriousness of this issue is frightening. We learned this week that since taking office, President Obama has skipped more than half of his daily intelligence briefings, and attended exactly none for the whole week prior to Tuesday’s attacks. The White House says it’s OK because he’s thoroughly reading the daily reports, but this is the same administration that said Eric Holder couldn’t possibly be expected to have read all the memos sent to him regarding Operation Fast & Furious. This administration has also been a sieve of leaked security information, and that’s on top of the official publication of withdrawal timetables; any would-be enemy need only pick up the New York Times to know what we’re going to do and when.
But not only is the Obama administration’s foreign policy apparatus a complete cluster you-know-what from an operational perspective, he has also missed the boat from a substantive policy perspective at every possible turn:
- In 2009, a pro-democracy uprising challenged the re-election of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, a man who is undeniably unstable, ferociously anti-American, and easily the single most dangerous ruler in the region, if not on the planet. Anybody, sight unseen, would be an improvement. Obama’s response? He maintained neutrality, taking the position that the Iranians needed to work it out for themselves. Without active U.S. support, the uprising was soon crushed in a brutal and violent crackdown.
- In 2011, the “Arab Spring” ousted Hosni Mubarek in Egypt, and Moammar Gaddafi in Libya. Mubarek had long been a stable and non-antagonistic presence, if not a U.S. ally in the region, yet Obama backed the protesters. And while no friend of the U.S., Gaddafi had at least kept his mouth shut and had largely been a non-factor in the region for some 15 years, yet Obama illegally lent military support to a U.N. expedition sent to aid the rebels. In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood stepped into the resulting void, and Islamist parties including the Brotherhood also did so in Libya, meaning that Obama’s policies have swapped regimes that were known entities and friendly or at least under control for varying degrees of unknown radical Islamists. Shockingly, it’s Egypt and Libya where we now see them storming and torching our embassies and consulates.
- In Syria, the Obama administration has thrown its lot in with the anti-Assad rebels, even though the Assad administration has never posed any real problem for the U.S. Those rebels have been infiltrated by elements of al Qaeda. In Pakistan the Obama administration provides billions in aid and falls all over itself to apologize for every perceived slight, meanwhile Pakistani intelligence harbors Osama bin Laden for years right under their nose, and calls the U.S. their “worst enemy.“
How can anyone be so tone deaf as to miss all of this?
It is against this backdrop that we have to view the situation with Israel, the only truly stable government and our only friend left in the Middle East. The Israelis understand that threats to erase them from the map are very real—they’ve been living with Muslim guns and rockets pointed at them since 1948. The rise of radical Islamist governments around the region is in itself cause for alarm in Jerusalem. Combine that with the fact that it’s all been happening with the overt support of their only real ally in the world, and you should understand how dire they have to be viewing their situation.
And of course, there’s that pesky problem of Iran daily getting ever-closer to becoming a nuclear power (even the UN recognizes this, but won’t do anything about it).
Not only is Israel surrounded by an increasingly hostile (and potentially nuclear-armed) collection of Islamist regimes, but they’re not getting any help from us. To the contrary, for all its lip-service to being a great friend of Israel, the Obama administration has repeatedly publicly humiliated the Israeli government, specifically on these very issues of Israel’s security:
- Obama left Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cooling his heels in a White House meeting room while he left to have dinner with his wife and daughters.
- In yet another hot mic gaffe, Obama was caught bad-mouthing Netanyahu behind his back with then-French President Nicolas Sarkozy, basically saying “You can’t stand him [Netanyahu]? I have to deal with him every day.”
- Heading into crucial U.N. discussions about the Palestinian request for statehood recognition, Obama publicly undercut the Israelis’ negotiating position by saying Israel had to revert back to at least the pre-1967 borders (i.e., give up the Sinai, the West Bank, the Golan Heights, and old Jerusalem), leaving Netanyahu with nowhere from which to negotiate.
- And then there was Tuesday’s flat rejection of a meeting with Netanyahu to discuss Iran’s nuclear program, the single most important security issue facing both nations today. Obama was too busy getting on Letterman and setting up fundraisers.
All of this is telling the Muslim world, the Israelis, and everyone else plain as day that if push comes to shove, we won’t have Israel’s back. And our failure to set concrete benchmarks and timelines for Iran—and to stand up to Russia and China in the process—tells them push won’t come to shove. For all the crowing about how bold he was for “doing the right thing” in bailing out GM and Chrysler (not the entire auto industry, Ms. Granholm—please shut up and go back to your cocktail), this President has no stones when it matters.
And the Islamists know it.
What choices are left to Israel? With all indications being that she’s left to fend for herself, Israel will now be forced to take pre-emptive military action against Iran unilaterally, and that powder keg will be volatile indeed. I don’t know if this could have been avoided, but it was surely made more likely by this administration’s chronic weakness, and its refusal to confront and deal with the issue decisively. Instead they’ve just let it fester, and now it may be too late.
What the Israelis understand, and this President just doesn’t seem to grasp, is that you cannot negotiate with or appease these people. No apology for anything is going to win you any good will, because they are not interested in your apology. They do not care what you say. And no amount of diplomacy or negotiation is going to get you to an agreement, because they are not interested in any negotiated peaceful co-existence. They do not care what you give them. What they want—and the only thing they want—is Israel gone, and once that happens they’ll be looking at us next.
And what makes these people really dangerous—and the reason even threats are unlikely to get you anywhere with them—is they’re fundamentally suicidal anyway. They’re after the eternal reward of 79 virgins (or however many it is) awaiting martyrs for Allah, so they don’t care what you do to them, and they’re happy to die if they can kill you in the process. I made this point some time ago, and Charles Krauthammer made it last month: the Islamists are fundamentally different in this respect than dealing with the Soviets. Mutually Assured Destruction and negotiations worked with the Soviets, because in the end they didn’t really want to die, and they didn’t really want to wipe us off the planet.
These people do.
If only our Commander-in-Chief understood that.