UPDATES 8:30 am Israel time, Sunday, September 1 2013:
*The entire Middle East is still reeling from President Obama’s pronouncement yesterday that U.S. military action against Syria is being indefinitely “postponed”. Obama’s words have been been met by declarations of “victory” from Assad in Damascus, the Iranians in Tehran, and Hezbollah in Lebanon. We can expect more of the same–perhaps more quietly–from Russia and China.
Obama himself has become the regional laughing stock this morning for his tortured explanation that he has authorized military force, but not really. Why, the Middle East wonders, is it now necessary for Obama to seek U.S. Congressional approval for a strike on Syria when no such authorization was needed for the U.S. action in Libya? Why, Egypt, Jordan, and the Gulf states wonder, should we ever believe anything that Obama says? The simple fact is that Obama flinched and did so on the world stage for everyone to see.
Here in Israel the mood is resignation. Not so much because of what Obama’s inaction says about Syria–but because of what it says about Iran and the so-called “peace process” with the Palestinians (see today’s blog).
*Please note that today’s blog also appears in The Times Of Israel.
There is a theory, admittedly far-fetched, that PM Benjamin Netanyahu has not veered as far to the left as his actions would have us believe.
Subscribers to this theory say that his appointment of Tzipi Livni as the chief Israeli negotiator in the current “peace” talks and that his constant pronouncements about wanting a two-state solution, are nothing but a guise, a sop to President Obama in order to get Obama’s support for what Netanyahu really feels is important–an attack on Iran.
According to this theory, Obama and his minions have actually convinced Netanyahu that the U.S. will intervene militarily should the Iranian nuclear weapons program reach a critical mass.
After Obama’s speech yesterday afternoon at the White House, the entire world, Benjamin Netanyahu included, now knows definitively this will never happen. Obama will never sign off on American military intervention in Iran.
More than this, the entire world, Benjamin Netanyahu included, now knows that Barack Obama has no qualms whatsoever about throwing his Secretary of State, John Kerry, under the bus. No amount of dissembling on the part of either man will change the fact that Obama sent Kerry out on Friday to tell the world why the U.S. was going to act militarily and then on Saturday cut him off at the knees.
All of this should have a tremendous impact on the “peace negotiations” with the Palestinians. Obama will undoubtedly try to compensate for his inaction in Syria by becoming more active in forcing Israel into concessions. Kerry will undoubtedly try to compensate for his devastating loss of face by doubling down against Israel in order to give himself credibility.
The question is how will Benjamin Netanyahu react? Will he now continue to play the Obama-Kerry-Livni game and allow Israel to be sucked into ever greater concessions? Or will he finally understand what your humble servant penned three days ago that the United States under Obama is “a diminished world power that will manipulate Israel for American purposes and to Israel’s extreme detriment.”
Finally, your humble servant thinks that he speaks for many in Israel by saying that he did not want the U.S. to get involved in Syria in the first place, but after Obama set red lines that the Syrians crossed so egregiously, Obama had to act to show that America’s word means something. He didn’t, and in this case it doesn’t.
It is a message that is not lost here in the Middle East.