Trump Lays Waste to Obama’s Amoral Foreign Policy
It has been an incredible few weeks to be a lover of Israel. After eight years of tension with the Obama administration, Israel now has a partner in the United States which has killed the Iran deal, defends the Jewish State at the UN, and has moved the American Embassy to Jerusalem.
President Trump has rid America of the shame of the Iran nuclear deal, which completely overlooked all of Iran’s sins and its vocal promises to annihilate Israel’s six million Jews.
In so doing, Trump has created the potential for reining in this vile regime in Tehran, curbing the ascendance of radical Islamists, and advancing a foreign policy that recognizes evil and holds belligerent governments accountable. President Obama’s foreign policy had elements of Kissingerian realpolitik. America was prepared to engage tyrants like Khamenei of Iran so long as it was in US interests. Trump, by contrast, has put enormous pressure on tyrants like Kim Jong-un of North Korea and Bashar Assad of Syria.
To be sure, Trump has emerged as a great champion of the Jewish people and a protector of Israel. But more globally, he has emerged as an American leader who is willing to condemn rather than excuse evil.
The Iran deal was traumatic because it was catastrophic. It awarded a government which mows down its own citizens in the streets to pocket billions of dollars to finance terrorism, ballistic missile development, and intervention in its neighbors’ affairs in exchange for biding its time before building nuclear weapons. Obama promised Iran’s behavior would change. Instead Iran’s aggression got worse and escalated threats to American and global interests. President Obama ignored Iran’s lies and threats in search of a foreign policy achievement to attach to his legacy.
Personally, it was difficult to accept that my president would overlook repeated Iranian promises to annihilate Israel and perpetrate a second Holocaust of the Jews. I lost friends in politics whose ambition, unwillingness to stand up to President Obama, and naivete toward Iranian intentions allowed them to support the Iran nuclear agreement. As an American and as a Jew, I feared we would be forced to live with the prospect of a nuclear Iran, along with the deal’s sunset clauses that would allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons in about a decade.
Trump, by contrast, saw Iran for what it is: a brutal government that lied to the world about the intention of its nuclear program and made it clear to European companies that if you do business with Iran you will not be doing business with the United States.
It’s fashionable today to divide America into conservatives and liberals. But I am someone who believes in a muscular foreign policy and who has spent much of his professional life around liberals, in academia and media.
Liberalism has many positive virtues that has moved the world forward. But its fatal flaw is a refusal to hate evil. Too many on the left prefer to excuse and give monsters a pass when they make genocidal threats because confronting them might require action rather than appeasement.
President Obama watched Assad gas Arab children and did nothing. As in the case of Iran, Obama preferred to take the easy way out and made a deal with Russia to remove Assad’s chemical weapons. Today, that deal has been exposed a total sham as Assad continues to use his arsenal of poison gas to murder children. Assad lied and did not dispose of the weapons and undoubtedly took the measure of Obama’s naivete watching him get played by the Iranians. President Obama’s legacy will forever be tarnished by his inaction to Muslim children being murdered by sarin gas.
Trump, who is daily called an Islamophobe, watched the same thing and called Assad a monster. “The evil and despicable [poison gas] attack left mothers and fathers, infants and children, thrashing in pain and gasping for air,” he said. “These are not the actions of a man. They are crimes of a monster instead.” President Obama refrained from ever using language like this, preferring instead to use neutral language that would not call out evil.
Supporters of the flawed Iran deal poo-pooed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s revelations about Iran’s past nuclear activities, as if was no great revelation that Iran had been lying all along. But if they knew Iran was lying all along, why didn’t they speak up? If they knew about Iran’s intentions, why didn’t they insist the archive be destroyed and close the loopholes that allow Iran to ultimately reduce its breakout time — in Obama’s words — “almost down to zero” by the end of the deal?
Trump rightly pointed out that Iran is a threat to the United States. Let’s not forget, as most people have, that the largest number of Americans murdered by terrorists other than on 9/11 were killed by Iran’s terrorist proxy, Hezbollah. That organization continues to attack our allies in Syria.
Commentators have been quick to attack Trump’s decision based on the opposition of our European allies to withdrawing from the deal. They have largely ignored the Middle Eastern allies who are directly and immediately threatened by Iran.
The Saudis have been calling for tougher action against Iran for years. In fact, they are the only ones to suggest publicly the need to use military force.
Iran not only threatens the Gulf states: it also targets other moderate, pro-Western states. Recently, Morocco cut ties with Iran because Hezbollah sent missiles to the Polisario Front, which is engaged in a terror campaign against the kingdom.
There is only one country, however, that Iran has threatened with annihilation — and that is Israel. The mullahs have repeatedly made genocidal threats against the Jewish state.
Iran has also helped Hezbollah amass more than 100,000 rockets in Lebanon aimed at Israel, and financed and armed Hamas terrorists in Gaza. Iran is trying to establish bases in Syria from which to threaten Israel, and recently launched a drone from Syria that targeted Israel.
The Trump administration is proving to be Israel’s great defender, especially at the UN where morality has seldom had a home since its founding. While the whole world condemned Israel for defending its border against a Hamas terrorist assault, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said, “I ask my colleagues here in the Security Council: Who among us would accept this type of activity on your border? No one would. No country in this chamber would act with more restraint than Israel has.”
Ambassador David Friedman and chief Middle East negotiator Jason Greenblatt stood up to the despicable antisemitism of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas when said that the Jews invited the Holocaust on themselves by charging interest and being bankers. Seldom has anyone so desecrated the sacred memory of the six million.
What emerges from all this is a radical departure from the amorality of Obama foreign policy and an insistence on a new path forward which demands a moral accountability by state actors.
Trump’s decision to tear up the Iran deal was bold and courageous. More important, it demonstrated a moral clarity that his predecessor lacked.
One can only hope the Europeans will sacrifice their desire to advance their economic interests in Iran to the greater good of imposing sanctions on a regime that brutalizes gays, stones women to death, and swears that it will one day an enact a second Holocaust.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, “America’s Rabbi,” whom The Washington Post calls “the most famous Rabbi in America,” is the international best-selling author of 31 books including his most recent, “The Israel Warrior.” Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.