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...

  • Blogs Book Reviews The Origins of Palestinian Refugee Relief Efforts (REVIEW)

    The Origins of Palestinian Refugee Relief Efforts (REVIEW)

    Romirowsky and Joffe’s book Religion, Politics and the Origins of Palestine Refugee Relief is an important volume for those interested in truly understanding the origins of the Palestinian refugee issue. Utilizing a treasure trove of newly released documents, the authors link UNRWA’s (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine) origins to the Quakers/American Friends Service Committee (AFSC). For those readers who thought they knew most of the Middle East story, Romirowsky and Joffe’s version provides another twist. The authors meticulously [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports Israeli Soccer Team Faces Prospect of International Ban

    Israeli Soccer Team Faces Prospect of International Ban

    The Israel National soccer team could be facing a World Cup ban, and other soccer sanctions, unless it alleviates travel restrictions and increases field access for Palestinian players and coaches. The head of the Palestinian Football Association is pushing for international soccer’s governing body, the Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA), to issue a ban on Israel competing internationally, claiming Israel’s restrictive travel for Palestinians is equivalent to a form of oppression. “It’s not only the athletes,” Jibril Rajoub explains. [...]

    Read more →
  • Beliefs and concepts Book Reviews Jewish Author of ‘Eat to Live’ Dishes on Health Care, Nutrition, Disease Prevention

    Jewish Author of ‘Eat to Live’ Dishes on Health Care, Nutrition, Disease Prevention

    JNS.org – While the national debate on “Obamacare” rages on past the recent March 31 sign-up deadline, bestselling Jewish author Dr. Joel Fuhrman says the “current disease care model of what we call ‘health care’ cannot possibly be sustained.” “There is simply not enough money available to support a system in which the lion’s share of expenditures is devoted to acute care, with virtually nothing being spent on preventive medicine, i.e. health care,” Fuhrman says in an interview. “To make [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Identity ‘Tears of Color’ Art Exhibit Shows Struggles of Israelis With Eating Disorders

    ‘Tears of Color’ Art Exhibit Shows Struggles of Israelis With Eating Disorders

    JNS.org – “This is how I want to be—without fear. Independent. I want to be like a bird. I want to spread my wings.” So reads part of the description beneath one of the 30 paintings on display until the end of May at the ZOA House in Tel Aviv. The collection represents the first-ever art exhibit of its kind: an exhibit created entirely by Israelis in treatment for eating disorders. Dubbed “Tears of Color,” based on one of the [...]

    Read more →
  • Beliefs and concepts Book Reviews Overprotective or Loving? Daughters Reflect on Jewish Mothers in New Anthology

    Overprotective or Loving? Daughters Reflect on Jewish Mothers in New Anthology

    JNS.org – Rachel Ament noticed that she and her friends often shared humorous anecdotes that were typically variations on a theme: overprotective, worrying Jewish moms who smothered them with love. That included Ament’s own mother. “My mom is probably every Jewish stereotype scrunched into one,” the Washington, DC, resident tells JNS.org. “At the root of all these stereotypical, worrying, overprotective moms, is love.” A social media writer for Capital One, as well as a freelance writer, Ament decided about three years [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Commentary ‎Kosher Lust: Love is Not the Answer (REVIEW)

    ‎Kosher Lust: Love is Not the Answer (REVIEW)

    Kosher Lust, by Shmuley Boteach (Gefen Publishing House, 2014). You really do want to find something positive to say about Shmuley Boteach. He is a phenomenon; very bright, an articulate bundle of energy and self-promotion. Anyone who has the chutzpah to describe himself as “America’s Rabbi” deserves ten out of ten for effort. I believe that along with most Chabad alumni, official and unofficial, he does a lot of good and is a sort of national treasure. In this world [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Theater Hollywood’s Revisiting of Passover’s Exodus Story a Part of Throwback ‘Year of the Bible’

    Hollywood’s Revisiting of Passover’s Exodus Story a Part of Throwback ‘Year of the Bible’

    JNS.org – In a throwback to the golden age of cinema, Hollywood has declared 2014 the “Year of the Bible.” From Ridley Scott’s Exodus starring Christian Bale as Moses, to Russell Crowe playing Noah, Hollywood is gambling on new innovations in technology and star power to revisit some of the most popular stories ever told. “It’s definitely a throwback to the 1950s and early ’60s,” Dr. Stephen J. Whitfield, an American Studies professor at Brandeis University, told JNS.org. Starting with The [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada ‘Jewish Giant’ Headlines New York Jewish Museum Exhibit

    ‘Jewish Giant’ Headlines New York Jewish Museum Exhibit

    Eddie Carmel, dubbed “The Jewish Giant” by American photographer Diane Arbus, is the centerpiece of a new exhibit opening April 11 at The Jewish Museum in New York. Arbus met Carmel, who was billed “The World’s Tallest Man,” at Hubert’s Dime Museum and Flea Circus in 1959 but waited until 1970 to photograph him at his parents’ home in the Bronx, according to the museum. The son of immigrants from Tel Aviv, Carmel posed for Arbus with his head bowed to [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.