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Friday, September 14, 2012
"WHAT? ME WORRY?" SAYS THE ALFRED E. NEUMAN IN THE WHITEHOUSE
September 14, 2012
Soft words and hard reality
By Wes Pruden
Benjamin Netanyahu and Barack Obama are men
trapped in pickles.
As the prime minister, Bibi’s first duty is to
assure the survival of Israel. Against the prospect of another
Holocaust, nothing else matters.
Barack Obama’s pickle is a whopper made of his own
bungling, and his stiffing the Israelis is part of that bungling. Push
is just about ready to confront shove in the Middle East, and
particularly in Iran, which has sworn to destroy the Jewish state, and
Mr. Obama apparently can’t spare a few minutes to talk to Mr. Netanyahu
about it, even after the prime minister flew to America for the
conversation. He shouldn’t be surprised that evil men in Arabia watch,
and take note of American “resolve.”
His dilemma over what to do about the assault on American diplomatic
outposts in Egypt and Libya is related to Mr. Netanyahu’s pickle, though
the president might not understand that. He’s blinded by his infinite
patience with the endless barbarism that certain followers of Islam
continue to inflict on the rest of the world.
A high Israeli government official says Mr. Netanyahu asked to see
the president during a 54-hour visit to the United States, where he will
attend a session of the United Nations to listen to abuse, insult and
vilification from delegates from assorted tribes with flags who can’t
wait to watch somebody else do something they can’t.
The White House response to Mr. Netanyahu’s request, or lack of one,
was described by Ha’aretz, the Jerusalem daily that is the favorite of
the Israeli left, as marking "a new low in relations between Netanyahu
and Obama, underscored by the fact that this is the first time
Netanyahu will visit the United States as prime minister without meeting
with the president."
Mr. Netanyahu must tread lightly dealing with this White House. Ehud
Barak, the defense minister, takes careful note of this reality, saying
"we must not forget that the United States is Israel's most important
source of support in terms of security." When Mr. Obama's White House
burps and spits, he expects the Israelis to swim. Hence the dilemma:
something must be done soon about Iran, or else accommodate Tehran as an
irresponsible new member of the nuclear club.
Mr. Obama has made it
clear that he is not much interested in Israel's security problems,
though he's willing from time to time, when under duress, to display
rhetorical devotion to a U.S.-Israel special relationship. He acts as if
he doesn't believe a word of it.
Mr. Netanyahu must decide whether to deal with Iran's nuclear program
now, before Nov. 6, while President Obama would be under irresistible
political pressure to go to Israel's aid, or delay a strike on Iran's
nuclear weapon works, gambling that Mitt Romney, an authentic friend,
will be elected president. If he decides to wait and Mr. Obama is
elected to a second term, Israel must do without a trusted friend in
Washington. Some pickle, and it's not even kosher.
Mr. Obama promised Vladimir Putin that if he could get a little space
between now and November, he will have "more flexibility" in
U.S.-Russian relations after his re-election. He didn't tell us exactly
what that means, though his policy has been to "re-set" relations
between the two countries. Once elected, Mr. Obama would "re-set"
relations with Israel, too.
We got a glimpse this week of the kind of re-setting we should expect
in a second Obama term. "The world tells Israel to wait, 'there's still
time,'" Mr. Netanyahu said. "And I say, wait for what? Wait until when?
Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before
Iran don't have a moral right to place a red light before Israel. If
Iran knows there is no red line, if Iran knows there is no deadline,
what will it do? Exactly what it's doing."
As if on cue, a spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department stepped up
with the usual girly-girl stuff: "We don’t think it's particularly
useful to have these conversations in public. It doesn't help the
process and it doesn't help the integrity of the diplomacy." A similar
girly-girly message of sympathy for the mob led to horror, tragedy and
humiliation in Libya.
Diplomacy is nice, and keeps the wet, the wilted and the wimpy of
Foggy Bottom off the street. Sometimes diplomacy works, but never when
it's backed by appeasement, apology and high-minded argle-bargle.
getting a demonstration in Egypt, Yemen and Libya of what happens when a
president speaks softly and carries an apology and a wet noodle. He
eventually sounds like Alfred E. Neuman, the famous world leader from
Mad comics: "What? Me worry?" Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times.