Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Obama terms Israeli concerns noise – broad ramifications

Dr. Aaron Lerner..
IMRA Weekly Commentary..
24 September '12..


+ Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's call for President Obama to set red lines and deadlines is not a move on his part to put Israel's security interests over those of the United States. After all, it most certainly would not serve America's security for Iran to have nuclear weapons.

+ Mr. Netanyahu isn't asking for Mr. Obama to declare war on Iran today but rather to show the kind of determination that JFK showed in the missile crisis with Russia in order to ensure America's security. Determination and will today that could very well prevent the loss of American and other lives should Iran's nuclear weapons program succeed.

+ We are all adults and appreciate that in a dynamic and fluid situation, circumstances can develop in which the unthinkable transforms to being the acceptable. Anyone who spends more than a few minutes reading the narratives of many of the Western analysts writing about nuclear Iran knows that the day Iran announces they have nukes, the temptation will be great in both Foggy Bottom and the White House - given the very high costs of facing off against a nuclear Iran - to embrace the view that the nukes are only a deterrent, to preserve the ruling regime. Unfortunately, this could very well be a policy of "appeasement to apocalypse".

+ The question is not if it would be more appropriate for Mr. Netanyahu to lobby President Obama behind closed doors rather than publicly. Israel has engaged in discussions of these matters for months and years behind closed doors. The public talk only reflects the unfortunate failure to date of the mutually preferable alternative mode of communications in the face of the rapidly closing window of opportunity.

A reminder:

#1. When any president of the United States speaks for the record on matters he expects to address, he basically recites a string of phrases that were painstakingly prepared well in advance. This isn’t a bad thing. It’s a very good thing. For while it may be a bit boring to find literally identical phrases repeated over and over again for weeks, months and sometimes even longer, there is the tremendous advantage that when something changes – be it tone, nuance or anything else – you can rest assured that it is indeed intentional.

#2. We are in the middle of an American presidential campaign. So #1 is even more closely adhered to than the rest of the term.

So here we have President Obama’s pre-Yom Kippur remark in a Sixty Minutes interview:

STEVE KROFT: “You don’t feel any pressure from Prime Minister Netanyahu in the middle of a campaign to try and get you to change your policy and draw a line in the sand? You don’t feel any pressure?”

OBAMA: “When it comes to our national security decisions — any pressure that I feel is simply to do what’s right for the American people. And I am going to block out — any noise that’s out there.”

That’s right.

PM Netanyahu’s “red line/deadline” campaign is “noise”.

This days after Fereydoun Abbasi, the head of Iran's nuclear energy agency, basically told the world that Iran couldn’t care less about what the West in general and President Obama in particular thinks about Iran’s nuclear activities when he said for attribution that Iran often delivers false information to international officials regarding its nuclear program, in order to protect its facilities.


So why did President Obama decide to use the unprecedented “noise” term?

Let’s remember – many hours were spent coming up with the line.

Yes. It seemed like a great way to kick Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in the teeth. And that certainly felt good.

But this wasn’t an off the cuff remark. Hours were spent thinking about it.

And that’s the problem.

Because Binyamin Netanyahu isn’t some nudnik columnist whose remarks can be dismissed like swatting away an annoying fly.

Netanyahu is the prime minister of the sovereign State of Israel.

If Israel had only an iota of its relationship with the United States, it would still be unbecoming for the president of the United States to term the concerns of the prime minister of Israel nothing more than “noise”.

President Obama sent a poisonously dangerous message to the world about his attitude towards Israeli concerns.

And for friends of Israel in the United States, this was a preview of what four more years may entail.

Again: Nobody put a gun to Mr. Obama’s head and forced him to agree to run with the “noise” remark that his staff crafted and pitched to him. There are many eloquent alternative sound bites that could have been used to handle the question. It was most definitely Mr. Obama’s call.

And even odder: it’s hard to come up with the demographic that the “noise” remark might have nudged from the “undecided” column over to the Democratic ticket.

So besides being a message to friends of Israel in general, the “noise” remark is a particularly bizarre message.

Will American Jews (As well as other supporters of Israel YH) manage to process this before they go behind the curtain in November?

Link: http://www.imra.org.il/story.php3?id=58381

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