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April 15, 2010

Israel

Fading Veneer: Dispatching An Israeli Irritant

The Obama Administration Is Working To Discredit and Ultimately Unseat Bibi Netanyahu

By Steve Schippert | April 15, 2010

Israel is on its own. Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu has known this since January 2009. The Obama administration has known this since November 2008. And now the American public is coming to know it, for President Obama's thin veneer of plausible deniability has been wearing thin. The New York Times today reduces that veneer of words to a transparent plastic wrap over the Obama administration's deeds and actions against Israel.

We are to now believe that, because of threats to American forces in the region, America must "balance support for Israel against other American interests." From the New York Times article Obama Phrase Highlights Shift on Middle East, the first few paragraphs must be read very carefully. Not because the words are confusing or nuanced, but because they are so vitally important to grasp.

It was just a phrase at the end of President Obama's news conference on Tuesday, but it was a stark reminder of a far-reaching shift in how the United States views the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and how aggressively it might push for a peace agreement. When Mr. Obama declared that resolving the long-running Middle East dispute was a "vital national security interest of the United States," he was highlighting a change that has resulted from a lengthy debate among his top officials over how best to balance support for Israel against other American interests.

How aggressively might the Obama administration "push for a peace agreement"? Vice President Biden snubbed Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu by showing up 90 minutes late for a state dinner in Israel, upset that Israel decided to build and renovate homes in Jerusalem. This is how this White House conducts business. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton berated Netanyahu in a reportedly expletive-filled phone call. In a later White House visit by Netanyahu, President Obama also laid into the Israeli prime minister and then abruptly left him. After sitting for 30 minutes, Netanyahu took his team of advisors and left the White House.

A "peace process" is a very personal engagement among men and women. Peace is not brokered impersonally on typewriters and keyboards, much as labor-management disputes are much less resolved on balance sheets than they are on sidebars and coffee breaks among level heads. Understanding this, you now have a glimpse into the Obama administration's approach to the "peace process." Just as with all the administration has done domestically, the talk is of transparency and negotiation, but the action is of ramming a desired policy down the throats of subjects, whether they know what's good for them or not.

And the visions of brokering (i.e. ramming) an ethereal Arab-Israeli peace is 'historic.' Thus, it must be a wholly owned subsidiary of the Obama Presidency. Israel, generally, is in the way. Netanyahu, specifically, is in the way. And the distinction here is important. But we'll get to that later.

First, digest fully the next two paragraphs from the Times' article for proper context.

This shift, described by administration officials who did not want to be quoted by name when discussing internal discussions, is driving the White House's urgency to help broker a Middle East peace deal. It increases the likelihood that Mr. Obama, frustrated by the inability of the Israelis and the Palestinians to come to terms, will propose his own parameters for an eventual Palestinian state. Mr. Obama said conflicts like the one in the Middle East ended up "costing us significantly in terms of both blood and treasure" -- drawing an explicit link between the Israeli-Palestinian strife and the safety of American soldiers as they battle Islamic extremism and terrorism in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

Now ask yourself, who has threatened American forces in the region? The answer is short and simple. First, al-Qaeda has threatened our forces in the region for many reasons. Among them is the opportunist piggy-backing of the Arab-Israeli conflict, a popular cause that al-Qaeda has adopted only in recent years because it plays well among Arab potential financiers and angry young Arab men al-Qaeda seeks to recruit. But it is hardly a founding cause.

Second and most importantly, Iran has threatened to launch massive missile attacks on US bases in Iraq and elsewhere in the region if the United States or Israel attacks its nuclear installations. This, loyal readers, is the threat of which President Obama principally speaks. And Iran will be nuclear-capable in short order.

So, rather than stand fast with long standing American principles, and stand fast with our closest and most free and democratic ally in the region, the Obama administration seeks to assuage the Iranians rather than support an ally. And this is an easy call for Barack Obama, because he does not personally see Israel as an ally. Rather, Israel is a problem. (Quick: Name five individuals in President Obama's circle of advisors past or present who are steadfastly pro-Israel. It's harder than you think, especially if you ask an Israeli.)

As part of the "brokering," President Obama will "propose his own parameters for an eventual Palestinian state." This will be a hard sell, especially when one considers his and his advisors' past statements of desiring a "contiguous" Palestinian state. That's next, and it means Israel giving up land to the Palestinians in order to link the Gaza Strip to the West Bank.

In order to sell Americans the notion that the Obama Administration has the answers that no one else in the world has had in the history of Israel's cornered existence, it must be posed as a "vital national security interest" in order to gain the consent of the governed to proceed. Likewise, the same is also required in order to sell the intended subtle notion (that isn't so subtle) that Bibi Netanyahu is a roadblock on the road map to peace. But, as we've seen domestically, consent of the governed is simply desired but by no means required.

How can the administration best sell the bullying of Israel and the personal demonization and discrediting of Bibi Netanyahu as a "vital national security interest"? Why, link it to the safety of our deployed forces. The Left detests them, yet they do make for fantastic political props. Because, after all, who can be against the safety of the troops?

And so, in the name of the American troops in the region, it will be necessary for peace to finally be ushered into the Middle East by an infinitely wiser and fairer American administration.

But while American popular support is desired but not required for President Obama to fully apply his wrecking ball foreign policy upon Israel, it is absolutely prerequisite to first position Netanyahu as an aggressor and, ultimately, force his removal as prime minister. In short, Bibi Netanyahu must be dispatched. This meddling in Israeli domestic politics is the next scenario to be played out. This will probably go largely unnoticed and/or not understood by most Americans, but it is coming. A less assertive Israeli, ideally a far-left Israeli, is needed in the Prime Minister's seat at the "brokering" table.

While both Hamas in Gaza and Fatah in the West Bank maintain the language in their charters that calls for the destruction of Israel, President Obama is crescendoing into their most powerful spokesman. And the one man they fear, a strong and popular Bibi Netanyahu, President Obama will endeavor to remove from office. All the while, the thin verbal veneer of deniability shrinks away and his actions increasingly provide the transparency he once promised Americans for so many other things.

April 6, 2010

United States of America

The Obama Nuclear Manifesto

The Death of Clarity Neither Discourages Enemies Nor Comforts Allies

By Steve Schippert | April 6, 2010

Let's be clear: Wars prevented are wars not fought. And when faced with hostile adversaries, the best prevention is peace through strength. There is little room for banking on tulips and tea.

In a real world proven model of peace through strength, there is certainly no room for taking the defensive nuclear option off the table. Not for Russia. Not for China. And no, not for "nonnuclear states that are in compliance with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, even if they attacked the United States with biological or chemical weapons." The clearly understood fear of being smote in a nuclear response is unmistakable and effective.

Yet that is precisely what President Obama is taking off the table in deference to muddled nuance in the form of "a series of graded options." Why a series when one formidable option deters quite well? Because "a new posture" is the primary goal goal, not absolute deterrence.

Technically, it's called the Nuclear Posture Review. In plain language, it's fraught with unicorns and the forceful projection of weakness. Sure, the phrase "forceful projection of weakness" is self-conflicting and makes no sense. Precisely the point.

Before picking apart President Obama's wholly unnecessary and reckless imposition of added security risk upon the American people, it is instructive to revisit what Candidate Obama said regarding Defense and nuclear weapons in the 2008 campaign. At National Review I called it at the time "52 Seconds Over Washington," and the president is fulfilling his promises and then some. His words are delivered sternly, but the positions are those of weakness.

Let's recap this 2008 video note of thanks to a group that was a major Obama campaign supporter.

I will cut investments in unproven missile defense systems. (Check.)

I will not weaponize space. (Check and Mate.)

I will slow our development of future combat systems. (Check, Check and Check.)

And I will institute an independent defense priorities board to ensure that the Quadrennial Defense Review is not used to justify unnecessary spending. (Ummmm, yeah.)

Third, I will set a goal of a world without nuclear weapons. (Check.)

To seek that goal, I will not develop new nuclear weapons. (We're not.)

I will seek a ban on the production of fissile material. (A dancing unicorn non-starter.)

And I will negotiate with Russia to take our ICBM's off hair-trigger alert and to achieve deep cuts in our nuclear arsenal. (Check and Check.)

And after all of those check marks for a man of his word, at least when it comes to defense and security, we have what is being dubbed the "Obama nuclear weapons manifesto."

But while the Los Angeles Times has the catchy headline, the New York Times has the beef.

Mr. Obama's strategy is a sharp shift from those of his predecessors and seeks to revamp the nation's nuclear posture for a new age in which rogue states and terrorist organizations are greater threats than traditional powers like Russia and China.

This is false. Rogue states and terrorist organizations are not greater threats. They are simply more active. There principally are two reasons Russia and China are less active: 1.) Rational thinking leadership and 2.) deterrence through strength of arms, especially regarding nuclear arms.

The New York Times says that Obama's zany new strategy "eliminates much of the ambiguity that has deliberately existed in American nuclear policy since the opening days of the cold war." That, the Times reports, is because the U. S. is finally "explicitly committing not to use nuclear weapons against nonnuclear states that are in compliance with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, even if they attacked the United States with biological or chemical weapons or launched a crippling cyberattack."

Well, in the 'Eliminating Ambiguity' department, just two paragraphs later ambiguity is fully resurrected in a manner that would make Christ blush on the third day.

White House officials said the new strategy would include the option of reconsidering the use of nuclear retaliation against a biological attack, if the development of such weapons reached a level that made the United States vulnerable to a devastating strike.

Astonishing. Except for that "deliberate" little "option of reconsidering," one might suppose that indeed ambiguity has been slain.

Ambiguity is dead. Long live ambiguity.

The more 'hawkish' supporters of President Obama's Rainbow Unicorn Nuclear Strategy might astutely argue against the points made here. They may say to Conservative hawks that Obama's nuclear "manifesto" does not lower the guard against nuclear states, extends a hand to non-nuclear states, and leaves the door open for a nuclear response to a "crippling" attack of a non-nuclear state.

The Conservative response is, "Then what's the point?"

There is none, really. Not beyond rhetoric and "historic" moments and - dare the Los Angeles Times say it - a "manifesto."

No point at all - but for one critical aspect lost in all of the arguing back and forth. Clarity is dead. Nuance and the foolish self-assurance of perceived superior intellectual and/or moral capacity have rightly replaced clear understanding.

For, while the Cold War's M.A.D. (Mutually Assured Destruction) may well have been mad, it was undeniably clear. Both sides understood - with clarity - the consequences of certain actions.

When a nation projects weakness and obscures clarity it invites nothing good. President Obama is doing both in an aggressive world where peace is maintained through deterrence and conflict brewed in its perceived absence.

(Cross-posted at LibertyPundits.net.)

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