Exit Strategies

Is Obama an Enemy of Israel?


The president wants to extend a ten-month moratorium on new settlements in the West Bank and has voiced opposition to the ones in East Jerusalem. Larry Auster is now sure that Obama's Washington is "an enemy of Israel" and that PM Bibi Netanyahu should declare so openly. Citing Commentary's Noah Pollak and Powerline's "Paul," Auster frets that once the administration's anti-Israel animus comes to a boil, actions like these might soon follow:

1) U.S. support for a unilateral Palestinian declaration of statehood, 2) active U.S. opposition to a strike on Iran, up to and including the Brzezinski threat of shooting down Israeli aircraft, 3) Israel's diplomatic isolation in the UN and Europe, and 4) an escalating administration campaign to portray Israeli "intransigence" as a threat to the United States' regional and international security.

In other news, a one-time volunteer to the Israeli Defense Force, Rahm Emmanuel, is still Obama's chief of staff and -- this just in -- former Obama aid Lee "Rossy" Rosenberg, another Chicago boy, has been appointed as the new head of AIPAC. Reports have also surfaced that Israel has captured Joe Biden's heart.   

With "enemies" like these... 

Seriously.  Speculations that Obama might start ordering Israeli planes shot out of the sky, isolating Israel at the UN, or bad mouthing the Jewish state in the press are beyond ridiculous. Moreover, Obama isn't even the most Israeli-critical president in recent memory: George Bush the Elder and James Baker literally threatened to withhold loan guarantees to Israel due to its settlement policy. American conservatives like Auster and the Powerline people want Obama to be wildly anti-Israel because this fits their preconceived image of him as representing everything they're against. They will be disappointed. And memo to Bibi: "You are not alone!" 

Obama inherited a political climate in which most people don't want to even think about foreign policy, their minds focused on domestic matters and the economy. Knowing this, Obama has striven to thread the needle and please -- or rather, not upset -- both antiwar and pro-war/neo-liberal/neocon forces: he thus drew down troops in Iraq, which was scheduled anyway, and expanded the war in Afghanistan in order to prove that he's tough. My sense is that, at least at this point in time, Obama won't make any bold foreign-policy moves and instead focus all of his political capital on destroying the country from within.

This being said, big wars often come in the wake of economic turmoil -- often when prices for resources spike or when the international balance of power is unstable and ambitious powers want to move up. I expect that we won't just have a "double dip recession" but something much, much worse in order to finally cleanse all the bad debt from the system. I'm reluctant to make long-term predictions, but when this happens, whether it's because Washington wants to distract Americans from the collapse of their standard of living, or make a last, frantic assertion of its "unipolar" authority, Larry and the neocons might get more wars in the Middle East after all.

CORRECTION: I originally wrote that in 1992, President Geroge H. W. Bush threatened to withhold "foreign aid"; in fact, he threatened to withold loan guarantees.