Obama’s New Middle East Crisis Tests

November 18, 2012 5:23 am 0 comments

President Obama. Photo: Wordfromjerusalem.

It’s not every day that events make Vice President Joe Biden seem smart or even kind of prophetic, but four years ago, he foresaw that Barack Obama would be sorely tested by foreign policy crises after his election.

“Mark my words,” said Biden in October 2008, “it will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy. The world is looking.”

War exploded this week on the Israeli-Gaza frontier, while civil war inside Syria spread to the Israeli-Syrian frontier in the Golan. So, the world is indeed watching to see if Barack Obama passes Joe Biden’s test.

At Wednesday’s press conference, President Obama dodged questions on foreign policy and terror. Meanwhile, he also told Israeli leaders that Israel has a right to defend itself but needs to be careful about civilian casualties.

Those are not good signs that Obama is doing well on Biden’s crisis test. Obama cannot just talk the talk, he must also walk the walk.

The President is still evading telling us the truth about events in Libya and at the CIA, and he is going back to the standard State Department language of cautioning Israel not to hit back too hard when it is attacked by terrorists. Real leaders admit error and help allies.

From past clashes, it is clear Israel’s leaders and soldiers are very, very careful about civilians. But the Arab bloc in the United Nations and many in the European community soon form a chorus to condemn Israel for unimaginable (and untrue) claims of aggression and brutality.

That is the usual script. It happened before and will happen again. The only question is whether or not Barack Obama will step up and protect Israel from the diplomatic backstabbing, or will he continue his record from his first term when, like Jimmy Carter, he cast only one meager veto to defend Israel from the Arab Amen Corner.

Obama’s second term really began the day after Election Day 2012. We must hope he does better in the second term than he did on the foreign policy and terror crises he faced in his first term, including:

·                       The terror in Libya he helped to enable and then covered up;

·                       The Islamist upheaval in the Arab world he encouraged, especially in Egypt;

·                       The cave-in to dictatorial Russia on arms control issues, undercutting Poland and the Czech Republic;

·                       The weakening of our forces in Afghanistan with a surge in and a surge out—timed to his campaign clock—leading to huge rise in U.S. casualties;

·                       The sandbagging of  Israel in talks with the PLO, thereby freezing the talks for the first time in 15 years and isolatingIsrael;

·                       The “engaging” and emboldening of Iran by not helping Iranian dissidents or pressing hard against Iran’s nuclear bomb program;

This is only a partial list but it shows that Biden was right about Obama facing crises.

Israel is not the only place President Obama faces a test, but Israel is one of America’s best friends, and it is sorely beleaguered. It is a chance for Obama to pass the Biden test and also to keep a promise he made of “no daylight” between the U.S. and Israel.

Israel is being attacked on at least three fronts, and Iran is waiting to join in:

·                       The terrorists in Gaza have escalated rocket attacks on the southern third of Israel, confident that they have the support of the Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt and dubious that Obama will intervene strongly;

·                       In the north, forces of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad have begun shelling Israel in the Golan Heights;

·                       In the center, PLO leader Mahmoud Abbas has thumbed his nose at written agreements and at the Obama Administration, and he is pushing UN recognition of a PLO state—an act that will weaken and isolate Israel.

Israel has no choice but to take firm military action on its southern front.

As Mr. Obama’s second term proceeds, there will be other tests.

Al-Qaeda and other Islamist terror groups have already increased their world-wide attacks, fanning out from Pakistan and Iraq to Yemen, Sudan and elsewhere.

Iran will step up its nuclear arms development and exporting terror—which reached several countries in Africa and Asia this year.

President Obama’s one real foreign policy success in his first term was ordering the killing of Osama Bin-Laden, but he does not want to use large-scale force overseas, fearful of Vietnams or Iraq-like traumas. He has also not been strong defending allies.

The question is, will President Obama meet the newest tests or, as he did as a state legislator in Illinois, merely “vote present?”

Dr. Michael Widlanski, an expert on Arab politics and communications, is the author of Battle for Our Minds: Western Elites and the Terror Threat just published by Threshold/Simon and Schuster. He is a former reporter, correspondent and editor respectively at The New York Times, Cox Newspapers, and The Jerusalem Post, and he served as Strategic Affairs Advisor in Israel’s Ministry of Public Security.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Middle East Hamas Commander Reportedly Urges Hezbollah to Join Forces Against Israel

    Hamas Commander Reportedly Urges Hezbollah to Join Forces Against Israel

    JNS.org – Five months after Israeli forces tried to assassinate Hamas military commander Mohammed Deif in Gaza, Deif appears to have signed a letter that the terrorist group claims he wrote in hiding. The letter, addressed to Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah, expressed Deif’s condolences for the death of Hezbollah terrorists during Sunday’s reported Israeli airstrike in Syria. Deif is said to have survived multiple assassination attempts, but he has not been seen in public for years. According to the Hezbollah-linked Al-Manar [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Theater Shlomo Carlebach Musical Has the Soul to Heal Frayed Race Relations

    Shlomo Carlebach Musical Has the Soul to Heal Frayed Race Relations

    JNS.org – The cracks that had been simply painted over for so long began to show in Ferguson, Mo., in November 2014, but in truth they had begun to open wide much earlier—on Saturday, July 13, 2013. That is when a jury in Sanford, Fla., acquitted George Zimmerman of culpability for the death of a 17-year-old black man, Trayvon Martin. The cracks receded from view over time, as other news obscured them. Then came the evening of Aug. 9, 2014, [...]

    Read more →
  • Theater US & Canada ‘Homeland’ Season Finale Stirs Controversy After Comparing Menachem Begin to Taliban Leader

    ‘Homeland’ Season Finale Stirs Controversy After Comparing Menachem Begin to Taliban Leader

    A controversial scene in the season finale of Homeland sparked outrage by comparing former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin to a fictional Taliban leader, the UK’s Daily Mail reported. In the season 4 finale episode, which aired on Dec. 21, CIA black ops director Dar Adal, played by F. Murray Abraham, justifies a deal he made with a Taliban leader by referencing Begin. He makes the remarks in a conversation with former CIA director Saul Berenson, a Jewish character played by Mandy [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Spirituality/Tradition Placing Matisyahu Back Within a Life of Observance

    Placing Matisyahu Back Within a Life of Observance

    Shining Light on Fiction During the North Korea-Sony saga, we learned two important lessons. The first is that there are two sides to this story, and neither of them are correct because ultimately we should have neither inappropriate movies nor dictators. The second is that we cannot remain entirely fixed on the religious world, but we also must see beyond the external, secular view of reality. It’s important to ground our Torah-based thoughts into real-life activism. To view our act [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Nine Decades of Moses at the Movies

    Nine Decades of Moses at the Movies

    JNS.org – Hollywood has had its share of big-budget biblical flops, but until now, the Exodus narrative has not been among them. Studios have brought Moses to the big screen sparingly, but in ways that defined the image and character of Moses for each generation of audiences. The first biblical epic In 1923, director Cecil B. DeMille left it to the American public to decide the subject of his next movie for Paramount. DeMille received a letter from a mechanic [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Exodus on Screen (REVIEW)

    Exodus on Screen (REVIEW)

    JNS.org – The story of the Exodus from Egypt is a tale as old as time itself, to borrow a turn of phrase. It’s retold every Passover, both at the seder table and whenever “The Ten Commandments” is aired on television. But the latest adaptation—Ridley Scott’s epic film, “Exodus: Gods and Kings”—fails to meet expectations. Scott’s “Exodus” alters the source material to service the story and ground the tale, but the attempt to reinvent the biblical narrative becomes laughable. Moses [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Lifestyle ‘Jewish Food Movement’ Comes of Age

    ‘Jewish Food Movement’ Comes of Age

    JNS.org - In December 2007, leaders of the Hazon nonprofit drafted seven-year goals for what they coined as the “Jewish Food Movement,” which has since been characterized by the increased prioritization of healthy eating, sustainable agriculture, and food-related activism in the Jewish community. What do the next seven years hold in store? “One thing I would like to see happen in the next seven years is [regarding] the issue of sugar, soda, and obesity, [seeing] what would it be like to rally the [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Education Seeds of ‘Start-Up Nation’ Cultivated by Israel Sci-Tech Schools

    Seeds of ‘Start-Up Nation’ Cultivated by Israel Sci-Tech Schools

    JNS.org – Forget the dioramas. How about working on an Israeli Air Force drone? That’s exactly the kind of beyond-their-years access enjoyed by students at the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) industrial vocational high school run by Israel Sci-Tech Schools, the largest education network in the Jewish state. More than 300 students (250 on the high school level and 68 at a two-year vocational academy) get hands-on training in the disciplines of aviation mechanics, electricity and energy control, and unmanned air [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.