The Charade Continues

Saturday, March 10, 2012 5:36 AM

Mr. Tom Friedman, chief foreign policy pundit at the New York Times, wants us to know that Barack Obama is Israel's best friend. "The only question I have," Friedman ruminates in his intriguing op-ed of March 7th, " whether he is the most pro-Israel president in history or just one of the most." Myself, I vote the latter category. Obama has quite a way to go before he tops his predecessor, G.W. Bush.

Remember that G.W. Bush has been called "the first Jewish President" and "the most pro-Israel President in history". The respected Israeli peace activist, Uri Avnery, referred to G.W. as "this blood-soaked moron"--not just because of the neocon-inspired Iraq invasion and occupation but also due to Bush's enthusiastic support for Operation Cast Lead. Read Avnery's article. I'm referring to Israel's December 2008/January 2009  phosphorus and cluster-bomb assault on Gaza. Yes, Bush and his mentor Dick Cheney are a tough act to follow, war crimes and all. Obama has tried very hard. He deserves credit for succeeding. 

For starters, recall that then President-elect Obama remained silent as a cat while the three-week slaughter of Operation Cast Lead unfolded before the eyes of a stunned world. He continued to go to the beach and play golf in Hawaii, acting as if nothing out of the ordinary were happening. Then he turned around and appointed Ms. H.R. Clinton his Secretary of State. What could be more "pro-Israel" than that? The appointment was a signal to those in the know, Tom Friedman and the New York Times among them.

The Israel Lobby had made a big investment in Hillary during her presumed slam-dunk quest for the Democratic nomination in the 2007-2008 campaign. Obama wanted to be certain that the most powerful lobby in Washington felt assuaged that its investment had not gone to waste. Obama knew that AIPAC and the American Zionists own Hillary. It is the reason Hillary is there. She had no special background in foreign policy, aside from being a sycophant for AIPAC

Then you have the case of Senator Joseph Biden, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. With Hillary unavailable, who could have been a more "pro-Israel" choice for Obama's Vice-President than Joe "I am a Zionist" Biden, except perhaps that grand man, Senator Joe Lieberman? No need to comment upon the appointment of Rahm Emanuel as Obama's first White House chief of staff. Another signal, sent and received.

In sum, Tom is correct about Obama's "pro-Israel" credentials. The thrust of his column is to praise Obama's current move in "redefining the Iran issue" to take the heat off of Israel. Friedman points out that neither Israel nor American Jews, "want to be accused of dragging America into a war, especially one that could weaken an already frail world economy." Fair enough. Obama's solution is to make it all about U.S. national security. Friedman is grateful and applauds the spin. But didn't Bush do that with Iraq? Who believes the Bush claptrap now?

Of course, Obama's adept playing of the Iran nuclear issue just galls the flag-waving Republican Presidential hopefuls who have been desperate to muscle in on the vote-getting and fund-raising action. From Ricky Santorum to Newt "wing-nuts" Gingrich to mild-mannered Mitt Romney, all of them have had some pretty amazing and positively preposterous things to say about Obama's policy vis-à-vis Israel and Iran.  

The normally mild-mannered Mitt accused Mr. Peace Prize of "throwing Israel under the bus" while Ricky has suggested, in so many words, that Obama should have bombed Iran yesterday or at least given Bibi Netanyahu the green-light to do so. Gingrich wants Obama to join the Mossad in murdering Iranian scientists. Gingrich wants to switch from covert to overt action in Washington's ongoing effort to destabilize Iran. Gingrich has promised to appoint fellow wing-nut, John "Bonkers" Bolton, his Secretary of State to oversee regime change in Tehran. 

Jon Stewart is not my cup of tea, but he certainly did have a good laugh recently at the expense of these goofy, bellicose Republicans. The pandering of the Republican candidates, Dr. Ron Paul excepted, has been brazen and embarrassing. The only way to deal with it is to laugh it off. I suppose we must assume that the Republicans are acting so ridiculous, they must be joking. But are they?      

What with the mounting hysteria surrounding the Iranian nuclear issue, as evidenced in Friedman's op-ed, and the attempt by everyone, except Dr. Ron Paul, to leverage this situation for money and votes, the current race for the White House is fast becoming the most Judeo-centric election in American history. Surely, it must have occurred to Tom to ask himself, "Is this good for the Jews?" Is it good for Americans to see politicians of both parties making such a spectacle of themselves in this way on this issue? Maybe it is not so good. 

That thought or something like it must have prompted Mideast policy honcho Aaron David Miller to write an op-ed for the Times the very next day. In "Iran and U.S. Election-Year Politics" Miller attempts to counter the self-evident fact that pandering is taking place big time--or in the alternative, even if it is (says Miller) still U.S. foreign policy is not being held hostage to American domestic politics. 

Pure and simple, Miller's op-ed is a response to Friedman's. Tom has only recently thrown in the towel and admitted that the Israel Lobby does in fact exist and is powerful. Miller, on the other hand, still would have us believe that the Lobby--which he calls “the pro-Israel community”--is a minor factor, a sidelight, in the making of U.S. foreign policy.

Here's a sample:

"Myths and facts conflate all too easily in our opinion-driven politics. One of the most dangerous these days is that President Obama's Iran policy has been taken hostage by election year pandering to Israel and the pro-Israel community in America. It's pernicious trope that runs counter to reality....

"The notion that 5.5 million American Jews in tight alliance with the country's evangelical Christians hold America's Middle East policy hostage is one of the most dangerous yet enduring myths of American politics and foreign policy."

Am I laughing. On wonders if Miller wants to convince himself or us. The enterprise of Zion and American domestic politics have been at the intersection of presidential elections since 1948, when Harry Truman, following the advice of political operative Clark Clifford, decided to cast Washington's vote at the UN with Moscow to condone the establishment of "the Jewish State" in Palestine by Russian and Polish Jews at the expense of the native Arab inhabitants. Both the State and Defense Departments opposed the move. Why? Morality aside, because it opened up a Pandora's box which created the ongoing nightmare we face today.    

In 1973, Senator William Fulbright, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, remarked on CBS's Face The Nation: "Israel controls the U.S. Senate. The Senate is subservient, much too much. We should be more concerned about the U.S. interests, rather than doing the bidding of Israel. The great majority of the Senate of the U.S.--somewhere around 80%--are completely in support of Israel. Anything Israel wants, Israel gets."

Bruce Anderson, veteran Tory commentator for The Spectator and long-time columnist for The Independent, wrote a column for The Independent dated September 9th, 2002 (apparently not online) in which he stated:

"The American political system could have been expressly designed to maximize the power of lobbies. Congressmen, constantly in search of votes, are constantly vulnerable to pressure. Only a brave or foolhardy congressman would dare to incur the wrath of the Israeli lobby. Even if there were no Jewish voters with 500 miles of his district, he would suddenly discover that all his electoral opponents had bulging bankrolls."

By the way, with respect to both the Friedman and Miller articles, if you forget spin and focus upon substance, the reason you can be certain that Obama's Iran policy has been taken hostage by election-year politics is the simple fact that Obama knows Iran has no nuclear weapons program. The underlying premise of both of these priceless op-eds is skewed and fictive. Friedman and Miller are operating under false assumptions, which assumptions they probably know are false.

Obama knows that there is no Iranian nuclear weapons program because the 16 U.S. Intelligence agencies have informed him (and G.W. Bush before him) of this. Obama knows, because the Iranian head of state, Grand Ayatollah Khamenei, has issued a Fatwa forbidding the production and use of nuclear weapons. Obama knows, because the International Atomic Energy Agency has reported no diversion of uranium in Iran from energy purposes and medical research to bomb-making. In his capacity as President, Obama knows the reality, even if the Republicans and the American mainstream media pretend they do not.

And yet, knowing all this, Obama, the man elected on a platform of "change" and who took an oath to "faithfully execute the Office of President", has chosen to ignore what he knows. He is posturing and acting dishonestly. He has chosen to live in a make-believe world, as required by political exigencies. He is misleading the folks who elected him as well as the public at large. He has chosen to entertain and enable a fake crisis with Iran at the behest of the Likud leaders of Israel. 

Why would he do that? Why did Obama not mentioned the 2007 and 2011 NIEs during his public meetings with Netanyahu at the White House? Why did he fail to tell Netanyahu categorically not to even think about launching a preemptive attack on Iran, because such an attack would be unjustified, counterproductive, a serious danger to the world economy, and just plain nuts? If Obama can't do that and can't tell the American public the truth about Iran, then what good is he? 

He is no good. President Obama is a hostage, just like the sorry Republicans. He is certainly not alone in this respect, if that is any excuse or consolation. When it comes to Washington's foreign policy in the Middle East, it is all about American domestic politics all of the time. The Tom Friedman and Aaron Miller op-eds in the New York Times simply provide further confirmation of the obvious.       

--Copyright 2012 Patrick Foy--