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 US & Canada Lena Dunham Responds to Charges of Antisemitism: It was Just a Jew Joke

    Lena Dunham Responds to Charges of Antisemitism: It was Just a Jew Joke

    “Girls” creator Lena Dunham responded on Tuesday to charges of antisemitism over an article she had penned for the New Yorker, saying it was all in good humor. Speaking to Variety, Dunham reflected on her “tight-knit Jewish family, where Jew jokes were part of the essential fiber of our communication.” The article Dunham referred to was called “Dog or Jewish Boyfriend? A Quiz,” with options such as “He doesn’t Tip” and “He’s Crazy for Cream Cheese.” Among Dunham’s critics, Anti-Defamation [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Former NBA Star Tweets Article About Jewish Conspiracy to Control Global Media

    Former NBA Star Tweets Article About Jewish Conspiracy to Control Global Media

    Retired NBA player Keyon Dooling tweeted a link on Wednesday to a wildly antisemitic article that accuses Jews of seizing control of the world’s media and using it to promote their own interests. The article, published by an obscure blog in April 2013, highlights six companies it claims are owned by Jews — such as Time Warner, Inc. and the Walt Disney Company – that allegedly “control 96 percent of the world’s media.”  The post includes allegations of “Jewish control” and says [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Rosh Hashanah Won’t Keep the Giants’ Geoff Schwartz From Season Opener

    Rosh Hashanah Won’t Keep the Giants’ Geoff Schwartz From Season Opener

    New York Giants offensive guard Geoff Schwartz responded to an outcry from Jewish fans on Tuesday, saying he will go ahead and play in the season opener despite the fact that it falls on the first night of Rosh Hashanah. “Keep getting tweets about that being the first night of Rosh Hashanah… Don’t know what I’m supposed to tell you. It’s a tough break,” the Jewish athlete wrote, referring to the Giants’ on-the-road game against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, Sept. [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports Jewish Coach David Blatt Has NBA’s Cavaliers Surging at Playoff Time

    Jewish Coach David Blatt Has NBA’s Cavaliers Surging at Playoff Time

    JNS.org – When David Blatt was hired as head coach of the National Basketball Association’s Cleveland Cavaliers last June, he was not often recognized when he walked the streets of downtown Cleveland. What a difference a year makes. Now, Blatt can go few places without being recognized. For good reason. The Jewish coach has the Cavaliers in the mix to win the city of Cleveland’s first championship in a major sport since the Browns won the National Football League title in [...]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports Croatian Soccer Star’s Hebrew Tattoo Causes a Stir Online

    Croatian Soccer Star’s Hebrew Tattoo Causes a Stir Online

    A Hebrew tattoo sported by Croatian soccer star Mario Mandzukic became an internet sensation in Israel after it was exposed on Tuesday during a Champions League match between Ateltico Madrid and Real Madrid A first glance, the tattoo, on the athlete’s back, might leave one with the impression that it was an unfortunate artistic mistake, since the Hebrew letters do not make sense as they are written. However, a closer look at the tattoo shows that it was actually written [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Theater Why an Algemeiner Editor Wrote a Play About a Mass Shooter

    Why an Algemeiner Editor Wrote a Play About a Mass Shooter

    For the past two years, I have served as Opinion Editor at The Algemeiner. I’m perhaps most proud of the paper’s commitment to publishing diverse and opposing viewpoints on the controversial issues of the day. We pride ourselves on voicing different opinions because we know that most issues are not black and white, and because our community is better served by a public debate. In my life outside of the paper, I am a professional actor and playwright. And similarly, [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Commentary In ‘America in Retreat,’ a Real-Life Risk Board

    In ‘America in Retreat,’ a Real-Life Risk Board

    JNS.org – “Risk: The Game of Strategic Conquest,” the classic Parker Brothers board game, requires imperial ambitions. Players imagine empires and are pitted against each other, vying for world domination. Amid this fictional world war, beginners learn fast that no matter the superiority of their army, every advance is a gamble determined by a roll of the dice. After a defeat, a player must retreat. Weighted reinforcement cards provide the only opportunity to reverse a player’s fortunes and resume the [...]

    Read more →
  • Beliefs and concepts Sports Does Working Out With Other Jews Keep You Jewish?

    Does Working Out With Other Jews Keep You Jewish?

    JNS.org – For Daphna Krupp, her daily workout (excluding Shabbat) at the Jewish Community Center (JCC or “J”) of Greater Baltimore has become somewhat of a ritual. She not only attends fitness classes but also engages with the instructors and plugs the J’s social programs on her personal Facebook page. “It’s the gym and the environment,” says Krupp. “It’s a great social network.” Krupp, who lives in Pikesville, Md., is one of an estimated 1 million American Jewish members of more [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.