Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

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. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Features World Graves of Jewish Pirates in Jamaica Give Caribbean Tourists Taste of Little-Known History

    Graves of Jewish Pirates in Jamaica Give Caribbean Tourists Taste of Little-Known History

    Tour operators are calling attention to Jamaica’s little-known Jewish heritage by arranging visits to historic Jewish sites on the Caribbean island, including a cemetery where Jewish pirates are buried. A report in Travel and Leisure magazine describes the Hunts Bay Cemetery in Kingston, where there are seven tombstones engraved with Hebrew benedictions and skull and crossbones insignia. According to the report, centuries ago, Jewish pirates sailed the waters of Jamaica and settled in Port Royal. The town, once known as “the wickedest city in the […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Filmmaker Eyal Resh Embraces the Challenge of Telling Israel’s Story (VIDEO)

    Filmmaker Eyal Resh Embraces the Challenge of Telling Israel’s Story (VIDEO)

    JNS.org – Telling Israel’s story. It’s the specific title of a short film that Eyal Resh created last year. It’s also the theme behind the 27-year-old Israeli filmmaker’s broader body of work. The widely viewed “Telling Israel’s Story” film—directed by Resh for a gala event hosted by the Times of Israel online news outlet—seemingly begins as a promotional tourism video, but quickly evolves to offer a multilayered perspective. “I want to tell you a story about a special place for me,” a young woman whispers […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Features Israel Geeks Out: Science, Art and Tech Event Embodies Jewish State’s ‘DNA’

    Israel Geeks Out: Science, Art and Tech Event Embodies Jewish State’s ‘DNA’

    JNS.org – The entrance to Jerusalem’s Sacher Park was transformed from April 25-27 by a fire-breathing robotic dragon, which flailed its arms and attempted to take flight. The robot, a signature feature at Jerusalem’s first-ever “Geek Picnic,” was one of more than 150 scientific amusements available for the public to experience. This particular dragon was designed by students from Moscow’s Art Industrial Institute in conjunction with the Flacon design factory, said Anatasia Shaminer, a student who helped facilitate the display. Children […]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Opinion The Syrian Virgin (REVIEW)

    The Syrian Virgin (REVIEW)

    The Syrian Virgin, by Zack Love. CreateSpace, 2015. The Syrian Virgin, by Zack Love, is a very interesting novel. Equally a political and romantic thriller, at times a real page-turner, it gets you intimately involved in the dire situation in today’s Syria, as well as in the romantic entanglements of its mostly New York-based characters — whose entanglements just might determine the fate of that dire situation in Syria. Along the way it introduces a really important idea that somehow […]

    Read more →
  • Features Unpacking the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict and Its Ripple Effect on Israel’s Region

    Unpacking the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict and Its Ripple Effect on Israel’s Region

    JNS.org – Aside from Israel itself, those with a vested interest in the Jewish state are accustomed to tracking developments related to Middle East players such as Iran, Syria, Jordan and Egypt. But much global attention has recently focused on the Caucasus region at the Europe-Asia border, specifically on the suddenly intensified violence between Azerbaijan and Armenia in the mountainous Nagorno-Karabakh area of western Azerbaijan. The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, while not taking place in Israel’s immediate neighborhood, does have what one scholar called […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Features Earth Day 2016: Israel Shines in Water Technology, Recycling, Renewable Energy

    Earth Day 2016: Israel Shines in Water Technology, Recycling, Renewable Energy

    JNS.org – On Friday, April 22, 196 nations across the world mark Earth Day, the annual day dedicated to environmental protection that was enacted in 1970. Not to be forgotten on this day is Israel, which is known as the “start-up nation” for its disproportionate amount of technological innovation, including in the area of protecting the environment. For Earth Day 2016, JNS.org presents a sampling of the Jewish state’s internal achievements and global contributions in the environmental realm. Water conservation Israeli […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture World New Documentary Explores Holocaust Humor, Role That Laughter Played in Death Camps

    New Documentary Explores Holocaust Humor, Role That Laughter Played in Death Camps

    Holocaust humor and the role that laughter played in the lives of Jews during World War II are the focus of a documentary that made its world premiere on Monday at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. In The Last Laugh, first- and second-generation survivors, as well as famous Jewish and non-Jewish comedians, discuss their thoughts on when joking about the death camps is appropriate or taboo. “Nazi humor, that’s OK. Holocaust humor, no,” Jewish comedic giant, actor and filmmaker Mel Brooks says in the film. “Anything I […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Tragedy Culminates in ‘Celebration,’ Says Israeli Author Who Lost Son to Terror

    Tragedy Culminates in ‘Celebration,’ Says Israeli Author Who Lost Son to Terror

    JNS.org – Sherri Mandell’s life was devastated on May 8, 2001, when her 13-year-old son Koby was murdered by terrorists on the outskirts of the Israeli Jewish community of Tekoa. Yet Mandell not only shares the story of her loss, but also celebrates the lessons she has learned from tragedy. Indeed, “celebrate” is this Israeli-American author’s word choice. Her second book, The Road to Resilience: From Chaos to Celebration (Toby Press), came out earlier this year. The lesson: in every celebration, there is […]

    Read more →