Obama’s Fitting Finish


In the list of low points in U.S. foreign policy, the betrayal of
Israel ranks high.

Barack Obama’s decision to abstain from, and therefore allow, last
week’s vote to censure Israel at the U.N. Security Council is a
fitting capstone for what’s left of his foreign policy. Strategic
half-measures, underhanded tactics and moralizing gestures have been
the president’s style from the beginning. Israelis aren’t the only
people to feel betrayed by the results.

Also betrayed: Iranians, whose 2009 Green Revolution in heroic protest
of a stolen election Mr. Obama conspicuously failed to endorse for
fear of offending the ruling theocracy.

Iraqis, who were assured of a diplomatic surge to consolidate the
gains of the military surge, but who ceased to be of any interest to
Mr. Obama the moment U.S. troops were withdrawn, and only concerned
him again when ISIS neared the gates of Baghdad.

Syrians, whose initially peaceful uprising against anti-American
dictator Bashar Assad Mr. Obama refused to embrace, and whose
initially moderate-led uprising Mr. Obama failed to support, and whose
sarin- and chlorine-gassed children Mr. Obama refused to rescue, his
own red lines notwithstanding.

Ukrainians, who gave up their nuclear weapons in 1994 with formal U.S.
assurances that their “existing borders” would be guaranteed, only to
see Mr. Obama refuse to supply them with defensive weapons when
Vladimir Putin invaded their territory 20 years later.

Pro-American Arab leaders, who expected better than to be given
ultimatums from Washington to step down, and who didn’t anticipate the
administration’s tilt toward the Muslim Brotherhood as a legitimate
political opposition, and toward Tehran as a responsible negotiating

Most betrayed: Americans.

Mr. Obama promised a responsible end to the war in Iraq. We are again
fighting in Iraq. He promised victory in Afghanistan. The Taliban are
winning. He promised a reset with Russia. We are enemies again. He
promised the containment of Iran. We are witnessing its ascendancy in
Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. He promised a world free of nuclear
weapons. We are stumbling into another age of nuclear proliferation.
He promised al Qaeda on a path to defeat. Jihad has never been so
rampant and deadly.

These are the results. They would be easier to forgive if they hadn’t
so often been reached by disingenuous and dishonorable means.

The administration was deceptive about the motives for the 2012
Benghazi attack. It was deceptive about Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s service
record, and the considerations that led it to exchange five Taliban
leaders for his freedom. It was deceptive about when it began nuclear
negotiations with Iran. It was deceptive about the terms of the deal.
It continues to be deceptive about the fundamental aim of the
agreement, which has less to do with curbing Iran’s nuclear ambitions
than with aligning Washington’s interests with Tehran’s.

Now the administration is likely being deceptive about last week’s
U.N. vote, claiming it did not promote, craft or orchestrate a
resolution that treats the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City as a
settlement in illegally occupied territory. Yet in November, John
Kerry had a long talk on the subject with the foreign minister of New
Zealand, one of the resolution’s sponsors.

“One of the closed-door discussions between United States Secretary of
State John Kerry and the New Zealand government today was a potential
resolution by the United Nations Security Council on a two-state
solution for the Israel-Palestine conflict,” the New Zealand Herald
reported last month. “‘It is a conversation we are engaged in deeply
and we’ve spent some time talking to Secretary Kerry about where the
U.S. might go on this,’” the paper added, quoting Foreign Minister
Murray McCully.

The Israelis claim to have more evidence along these lines. If so, it
means the administration no longer bothers to lie convincingly.

Even this might be excusable, if Mr. Obama at least had the courage of
his mistaken convictions, or if his deception were in the service of a
worthier end. Instead, we have the spectacle of the U.S. government
hiding behind the skirts of the foreign minister of New Zealand—along
with eminent co-sponsors, Venezuela, Malaysia and Senegal—in order to
embarrass and endanger a democratic ally in a forum where that ally is
already isolated and bullied. In the catalog of low points in American
diplomacy, this one ranks high.

After the Carter administration pulled a similar stunt against Israel
at the Security Council in December 1980, the Washington Post
published an editorial that does the paper honor today.

“It cannot be denied,” the editors wrote, “that there is a pack and
that it hounds Israel shamelessly and that this makes it very serious
when the United States joins it.” The editorial was titled “Joining
the Jackals.”

Unlike Mr. Carter, Mr. Obama hasn’t joined the jackals. He has merely
opened the door wide to them, whether at the U.N. or in the skies over
Syria or in the killing fields in Ukraine. The United States abstains:
What a fitting finish to this ruinous presidency.

Bret Stephens
Wall Street Journal

First published in the Wall Street Journal Dec. 26, 2016

Article courtesy of Yehudit Katsover and Nadia Matar
Sovereignty Journal
Women For Israel’s Tomorrow (Women in Green)
POB 7352, Jerusalem 91072, Israel
Email: wfit2@womeningreen.org
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