Sur­ren­der­ing an ally is no strat­egy at all

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - Opin­ion by Wes­ley Pru­den

Barack Obama has come up with an in­ter­est­ing strat­egy for deal­ing with the evil­do­ers of the world. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Sur­ren­der your friends, if nec­es­sary.

He wants to make Is­rael, our old­est and only re­li­able friend in the Mid­dle East, the guinea pig to see whether the strat­egy works. What ap­peared to be a mi­nor flap be­tween old friends only a fort­night ago now looks like an ex­ploitable op­por­tu­nity for the man who learned about who’s evil in the world from a crazy Jew­bait­ing preacher in Chicago.

The pub­lic scold­ing of Is­rael and the warn­ing that it must make nice with those de­ter­mined to “wipe it off the map” are now re­vealed to be tac­tics in the plan to make the Mid­dle East over in a way to please the Is­lamic rad­i­cals. The ob­ser­vant among us have seen this com­ing. Amer­ica’s true friends — Bri­tain, Canada, the Czech Repub­lic, France, Ger­many, Nor­way and Poland in ad­di­tion to Is­rael — have been get­ting the back of Mr. Obama’s hand from the day he took his oath. The com­mit­ment to con­sti­tu­tional gov­ern­ment and the an­cient tra­di­tions of in­tel­lec­tual free­dom that make up the cul­tural her­itage of the West have been snubbed when not ig- nored, the nat­u­ral al­lies of Amer­ica lec­tured to when not in­sulted.

We’re told that it’s not nice, and maybe even racist, to no­tice that Michelle Obama, the el­e­gant first lady who does so many things well, has cul­ti­vated her hus­band’s tal­ent for strate­gic snob­bery. She once con­ceded that she only be­came proud of Amer­ica when her hus­band got to the brink of the pres­i­dency, and in a re­mark­able video of a 2008 ap­pear­ance that sur­faced only this spring, she told of their vis­it­ing “his home coun­try in Kenya.” Un­less she was con­ced­ing that she, too, is a “birther,” she meant that Kenya is his an­ces­tral and cul­tural home. This could ex­plain a lot, and it cer­tainly of­fers in­sights now into his determinat­ion to dis­card the Is­raelis in the af­fec­tions of Amer­i­cans and re­place them with na­tions alien to the af­fec­tions of most Amer­i­cans. Why re­tain an emo­tional at­tach­ment to the sources of Amer­i­can law and lit­er­a­ture when you could bow to the Saudi king and court the leaders of Iran, Syria and Venezuela?

Noth­ing would please the en­e­mies and ad­ver­saries of Amer­ica — the “out­liers,” in the trendy term of the mo­ment — like putting the Jews in their place. Mr. Obama and some of his wise men, par­tic­u­larly in the State Depart­ment, which has tra­di­tion­ally looked for oc­ca­sions to lend a hand to the Arab tor­men­tors of Is­rael, now see their op­por­tu­nity to im­pose a “set­tle­ment” of the dis­pute be­tween Is­rael and the Pales­tini­ans. Mr. Obama fi­nally put his game in play last week when he told a press con­fer­ence that re­solv­ing the con­flict was “a vi­tal na­tional se­cu­rity in­ter­est of the United States.” De­scrib­ing the con­flict in th­ese not-so-vague terms gives him the op­por­tu­nity to pre­scribe any so­lu­tion, how­ever malig­nant or fan­ci­ful, just that way. The pres­i­dent, any pres­i­dent, must put the “vi­tal na­tional se­cu­rity in­ter­est” of the United States first and fore­most. Who could ar­gue with that?

Pres­i­dents be­fore him, Demo­crat and Repub­li­can, have re­garded Is­rael’s right to sur­vive as un­ques­tioned and in­vi­o­late, bound up with Amer­ica’s own tra­di­tions of demo­cratic gov­ern­ment, and Mr. Obama con­tin­ues to pay lip ser­vice to the Amer­i­can vow to de­fend Is­rael’s right to sur­vive. But lip ser­vice is not much de­fense against rock­ets, gun­fire and sui­cide bombs and the con­tempt of the despots of the world. Con­flicts like the con­tin­u­ing small­bore war in the Mid­dle East end up, the pres­i­dent says, “cost­ing us sig­nif­i­cantly in terms of both blood and trea­sure.” Any­one can see where that ar­gu­ment goes.

This is of a piece with the re­marks of Gen. David Pe­traeus, the U.S. com­man­der in Iraq and Afghanista­n, to Congress that “the lack of progress” in the Mid­dle East cre­ates a “hos­tile en­vi­ron­ment” for the United States. True enough, and the gen­eral’s frus­tra­tion is un­der­stand­able (and shared). Wars have al­ways been danger­ous places to be, which is ex­actly why we send sol­diers to such places. If only the Ger­mans had not been so hos­tile, the Amer­i­cans and the Bri­tish could have had a day at the beach on DDay. Alas, hos­tile the en­vi­ron­ment was, and there was no pic­nic. But the civ­i­lized world can be glad it never occurred to Pres­i­dent Roo­sevelt to sur­ren­der France.

Wes­ley Pru­den is ed­i­tor emer­i­tus of The Wash­ing­ton Times.

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