Monday, January 05, 2009

Biden overestimated it...

During a recent appointment, a patient started discussing the presidential election and Obama’s victory. This man had spent many years studying the history of the middle east and he was well-informed of current events. He voiced a concern that Obama was too neutral regarding the middle east and that this was sending a troubling message to Israel. He predicted that within 60 days of the inauguration – either before or after – Israel would strike Gaza. This was before the current violence broke out. He then told me that soon after this strike, Israel would follow with preemptive strikes on Iran. So far he has been right, and that’s the point of this post.

What concerns my friend – and now, me – about Obama is that he hasn’t really made it clear that he supports Israel and that Israel has a right to defend itself. This sends a message that Israel may not have a very strong ally in Washington once Bush leaves office. Even more concerning is that Israel may not be the only country in the middle east that sees it that way. And so they feel the need to defend themselves before it is too late. And to this date, Obama has been virtually silent on the matter. I think this is a mistake.

I think it’s important to understand that Israel is not going to wait for Iran to develop full offensive nuclear capability. For them, it’s a matter of life and death. They believe that once Iran has this ability they will use it. Ahmedinajad has pretty much made that clear and it would be foolish for anyone to think that he is bluffing. The US, Europe and the UN have done little to dissuade Iran from continuing its pursuit of these weapons and now Obama is giving the impression that he doesn’t want to take sides. With a US president like that in office, Israel will feel like they’ve been backed into a corner and they will take action to defend themselves. Couple that with Obama’s pledge to pull us out of Iraq in 16 months and Israel will feel further isolated. I think Barack Obama will soon be dealing with all-out war between Iran and Israel if he doesn’t start taking action soon. Bush has made it clear that he supports Israel, but he will be in Texas in less than 3 weeks. It’s Obama who has to start talking, and fast.

First, he needs to be clear that Israel is our ally, that we support their right to defend themselves and that Palestinian rocket attacks against Israel constitute acts of terror. Second, he needs to make it clear to Iran that any aggressive action against Israel will not be tolerated. Iran needs to understand that Israel is off limits. He needs to use strong language to convey the message, anything less will be interpreted as hesitancy and weakness, and it could be disastrous. He needs to change the perception that he will be weak on foreign policy. Right or wrong, that’s the impression that other countries have and it will pose a big problem for the new president if he doesn’t start working on it right away.

Joe Biden said that Obama will be tested in foreign policy within 6 months. It looks like he overestimated his prediction. Right now, Israel is not confident that Obama will help protect them; and neither is Iran. That’s a recipe for disaster. If Obama doesn’t act fast then his first 100 days in office may be consumed with an Israeli-Persian war, perhaps even involving nuclear weapons, with US troops sitting right in the middle of it. Not good.


Wry Mouth said...

I found this post intelligent and thought-provoking, and enjoyed it, but--

who's Joe Biden? ;o/

Dan Trabue said...

What concerns my friend – and now, me – about Obama is that he hasn’t really made it clear that he supports Israel and that Israel has a right to defend itself.

I'm not sure I understand. ANY nation has a right to defend itself, whether or not Obama thinks so.

But that does not translate naturally into the suggestion that the US ought to be obliged to intervene and support each and every nation that finds itself under attack. Especially when it is more akin to an ongoing civil war. And there is no legitimate reason why we ought treat Israel as a special case, is there?

I believe that Obama is trying to make it clear that the US will not be the World's police force. We can not and ought not go around choosing sides and saying, "Here we come to provide money and weaponry to THIS side in a battle, but not THAT side." We don't have the money to do so, we can't afford the lives of our soldiers to do so.

What we CAN and OUGHT do is work on supporting non-violent means to conflict resolution. But to do that, we can't take sides in civil wars that have lasted centuries.

That is part of the failed Big Gov't/Huge Army/global adventurism solution to which Obama is supposed to represent a change.

John Washburn said...

Dan, your comment is the most surprising of anything you have written here. How can you draw a moral equivalence between Israel and Hamas? Israel withdrew from Gaza three years ago and since then they have been subjected to daily rocket attacks from Hamas. These attacks target innocent civilians and now Hamas has the ability to reach Tel Aviv. 6,000 attacks so far, and until now Israel has shown restraint beyond comprehension. Yet, the bleeding hearts condemn the Israelis for taking action to protect themselves. It baffles me.

Some may say the Israelis are using disproportionate force. Would those people rather have Israel randomly launch 6,000 rockets into Gaza?

Israel is a peace-loving democracy that has engaged time after time in the peace process, only to be betrayed by the Palestinian terrorists. How many treaties and accords have been signed? And how many have been violated by Israel? Hamas is an Iranian-backed terrorist organization that deliberately targets the innocent, and hides behind Palestinian civilians. Israel puts their own soldiers in danger to minimize Palestinian civilian casualties. And, yet, it is wrong for us to take sides? What was it Edmund Burke said about “good men” doing nothing?

When the time comes that America lacks the courage to speak out against groups like Hamas and support nations like Israel, then that’s the time that I will condemn my own country for its cowardice. The Israelis have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It’s a God-given right that should be protected and defended, and it belongs to all people. Whenever those rights are threatened, wherever that may be, it is our responsibility to speak out against it. Our own history and heritage demands it. To do otherwise is nothing short of un-American.

You would rather we “not take sides”. Sorry, but that’s not an option. America should always side against those who threaten basic human rights. The day the Palestinians and Hamas decide to commit to peace and demonstrate it through action is the day when we no longer take sides. Until then, they should be considered an enemy of liberty.

Dan Trabue said...

You fail to recognize that both Hamas and Israel's leadership are threatening basic human rights. We need to stand against those threats to human rights on ALL sides, not just on our friends.

Here's the recommendation of how to resolve this from Rabbi Lerner. Seems reasonable to me.

Standing up for one side in an-ongoing slaughter in which both sides are taking part does not seem reasonable, moral or practical to me.


I've noticed once again that Dr John has 'failed to recognize' the "basic human rights" of Ahmadinejad's Iranian puppets like Hamas, Hezbollah, or those sweet, peaceful rascals in Damascus.

Egypt's Hosni Mubarach brokered a six-month cease-fire last July, and the Israeli have been under intermittant mortar & rocket fire all during that time. Oh, well.

Now, those Terrible Israeli have bombed those supply tunnels from Egypt, shutting off the wheat, rice, powdered milk, & medicines, and also the flow of mortars, rockets and RPG Ammo.

Sounds reasonable to me, Dan. reb

Dan Trabue said...

If you'll look at the words that I've actually written, you will not see the first syllable suggesting support for Hamas.

So, if you want to set up a straw man to knock down, Lazy One, have fun. Meanwhile, if you're interested in actual reason-based adult conversation, let me know.

Kristina said...

Do you think that Israel doesn't have grounds to attack, or is your objection to the fact that civilians are dying?


Hamas PLO/Fatah, always commands the initial attacks, prompted and funded by Iran, or by Saudi Arabia. The Israeli defends, and faces biased criticism from the ever glib, ever verbose Left-Winger.

Dan is so very often critical of Dr John's articles, with "fail to recognize" type gibberish.

'Human Rights' are most often suspended during a shooting war, especially by the brutal attacking
enemy, where martyrdom and suicidal
murder is honored as fundamental doctrine.

If YOU are searching for some vague "moral eqivolence" in wartime Palestine, it is Dan's Harrassing Tone That "Fails to Recognize".

Six million Israeli are surrounded by 600 million muslims in that sad region, and most are not usually inclined toward 'moderation'. reb

Auntyem said...

John-- You said "What concerns my friend – and now, me – about Obama is that he hasn’t really made it clear that he supports Israel and that Israel has a right to defend itself. This sends a message that Israel may not have a very strong ally in Washington once Bush leaves office".

I thought Obama made it clear that he supports Israel's right to exist. How much stronger a statement could he make at this point in time? I heard him say that. I also heard him say (in response to critics that he is ignoring the problem) that he will have plenty to say about the situation once he is really the president, that we can only have one president at a time and that president is Bush. He is deferring to Bush in this as he should.

Obama also has the advice of Pres. Clinton, and Clinton will try to warn Obama of not making the mistakes he did in negotiations with Palestine-Israel. I remember Arafat telling Clinton, "You will have a great legacy" and Clinton replied, "No, I won't, and it is because of you". It will never be the legacy of any US president to broker peace with Palestinian insurgents. There will be no peace until they are stripped of all resources and power, whatever the consequences. I think Mrs. Clinton as Secretery of State will make that very clear to the Palestinians, and that any incursions made by Israeli settlers must be left to the International Court and Hamas cannot take matters into their own hands by breaking peace accords.

I think Obama knows, we all know, that Hamas feels Israel should be wiped off the map, and poor Palestinians threw their lot in with them. Hamas' annhilist attitude toward Israel is unacceptable, and most people in the world agree that Israel has to put a stop to the harassment by Hamas once and FOREVER. Hamas will never honor any peace agreements. They will continue to hide behind their women's skirts to gain sympathy for the unintended deaths of their women and children, so the Israelis look like uncaring monsters. The lives of their own innocents are cheap to Hamas; they have made them expendable. They are one-minded Islamists. And those in the world who decry the killing of the Palestinian innocents in this are naive idealists. You have to remember the Islamic insurgent mind: "Everyone else is a terrorist", not them, they are just taking "defensive" action, always. They never admit to wrong.

The world knows that in war innocents get killed. It is so unfortunate, but the Palestinian people should realize that it is foolish to harass Israel, who is so very powerful and who have shown more restraint than would Hamas if the shoe were on the other foot. Palestinians could have peace and prosperity, if they could control their insurgents and cooperate with the Israelis, who have made a garden out of a desert.

You also said "If Obama doesn’t act fast then his first 100 days in office may be consumed with an Israeli-Persian war, perhaps even involving nuclear weapons, with US troops sitting right in the middle of it". I don't think nuclear weapons will be involved. No one wants to be first to use them, no one has used them since we used them, even though other governments have had them for almost as long as we have. Why? Because even Ahmed-in-a-jar isn't crazy enough to start the conflagration that it would be. He has said he would like to wipe Israel off the map, but he didn't say with nuclear weapons. I think he just wants to harass Israel little by little. Many Israelis have left Israel because of the harassment, the ones who aren't so committed, and I think that is how the Palestinians intend to take back the settlements there.

Port Orchard, WA

Dan Trabue said...

Do you think that Israel doesn't have grounds to attack, or is your objection to the fact that civilians are dying?

Israel has a right to defend themselves, as any nation does. When you're dealing with those who use terrorism - as Hamas too often does - the way to stop them is to further isolate them. If you kill civilians, you make Hamas into heroes and you've begun undoing the very thing you need to be doing.

I am opposed to the killing of civilians, whether it's by Hamas or Israel.

John Washburn said...

Emilie, I respect your comments, but I must say that you are making a drastic mistake if you don't think Ahmedinejad will use nuclear weapons once he acquires them. There is no doubt in my mind he will use them and that's the mindset we must have when we deal with him.

Dan, I stand by my words. I simply can't see how anyone can draw a moral equivalence with Israel and Hamas by saying "they're both wrong". Simply put, without Hamas and the Palestinian militants and the Islamofascists that support them, there wouldn't be a problem in the middle east. Israel desires peace, they don't. There is no moral equivalence there.

Dan Trabue said...

Who has said anything about moral equivalence? I have said that it is stupid and wrong for Israel to kill Palestinian civilians.

Hamas can't survive without support. If they're just a bunch of thugs willing to hurt innocent civilians, they don't get support. IF, on the other hand, they are fighting the Israeli machine that is keeping the Palestinians in subhuman conditions and killing innocent civilians, then Hamas becomes the heroes and Israel the villains.

Israel is playing into Hamas' hand. They are wrong both morally and practically when they kill civilians. To suggest that it is wrong for Hamas to kill civilians but for Israel, well, it's okay, THAT is where the moral relativism comes in.

Laurie Foston said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Laurie Foston said...

Mr. Washburn, I have some very blunt and candid remarks to make. Some of your blog sparked this type of response.

There are two issues that you mentioned that hit a nerve. I respect your blog and your initiative to make changes in this world. We definitely need that.

BUT! Indulge me to get on a chair for a moment.

Our own country needs attention right now, and although military assistance is good politically for us, as far as how other nations see us, it should NOT be distracting us from a very important issue here...economy.

I have to disagree about the dissatisfaction that you insist exists between Israel and Obama. I doubt that the reason that the state of our foreign affairs are dire right now would have anything to do with Obama. They look as good now as they did when the reporter threw the shoe at George Bush, if not better.

Why take something that was already happening in the last administration and blame it on the new administration? An administration that has only been here a few weeks...even Israel and the middle east are more fair than you have been on this. If we take this tone,this early...well....

I'll tell you what I think. I think the dissatisfaction is with you, Mr. Washburn and like-minded people who want to find a reason to find fault with the new president. Judgment is not mine to met out, but I detect a tone of discrimination in this case. I will explain why.

If we really want to help out other countries, we start first with the ones who are sitting at our borders. And it is true that we must first become strong economically again so that we can extend a helping hand. But why make the accusation that foreign affairs are even worse because Obama is in office? As far as clothes, which shouldn't have been an issue anyway, did anyone have any qualms about George Bush posing in a blue shirt, without a tie or coat, instead of a suit for his presidential portrait?

As for the article about abortion, I know this should be a concern. Tt does cost the taxpayers. But what a minor point to make! It costs us MONEY...whine about the MONEY first, then mention murder of infants. Is this supposed to impress people or enrage them?

Over-population ends in poverty. People die in the streets of impoverished nations.

Population-control, on the other hand, in under-developed countries removes financial responsibilites from their leaders and ours...if finance is your MAIN concern.

One president lets it go on... and another shoulders the responsibility of reversing the effects.

So, you asked why we should provide a bordering president with money for his over-populated and sex ignorant people? They smother in crates to get into this country so they can try to get food for survival. Gee, we've never had any problems with border control. Staying alive...that's what it's about with them...not getting rich.

This may sound irrelevant to some, but perhaps you have never been in the mountains of El Salvador or some of the towns just outside of Mexico City.

I would send as many people and as much money as it takes NOW before it gets so far out of hand that a revolution occurs. I'll say it again. They are right at our border, not half-way around the world!

There's nothing worse than poverty without hope.

Okay, you've probably already started your debate on abortion and how babies are murdered, but let me show you the flip side of the coin. Which way do you want them to die?

Do the math someone...anyone on what happens if it's done the pro-life way for eight years in an under-developed country? How many babies are born and starving? How many more will be born from lack of proper sex education and birth control? For the third time: They are right on our border.

The responsibilities are even higher when you have 1,500,000 unwanted infants born over there every year. Multiply that times eight years. What does the ruler of that country do to correct the problem? Revolution is standing at his door.

Poverty breeds violence. You think that's not our problem? It is just as much our problem since they're our allies as the problem with Israel. There's a reason that more than one president agreed on this funding. I won't say it a fourth time.

Even the Republicans in charge of the Supreme Court, when shown the pictures of starving over-populated countries and see the statistics of how they died, will weaken and sign off on birth control, sex education, and abortion rights for women whose brothers or fathers impregnated them in an impoverished country. And those Supreme Court Justices are pro-life!

Is this comment a little too blunt for people who don't want to face reality? If you can't see but one side of the coin then chances are, you are being duped.

Do the churches in the US send their money to cover enough missionaries to help their culture develop? Other countries, like Mexico, have natural resources and principal products that we import. Their presidents ask for our help... just like Israel.

So if I were you, I would not spend my time worrying about the presidents clothes or whether he wears a white shirt or a blue shirt while the baby that was just born in a pueblo in Mexico was left in a trench to starve.

Thank you, Mr. Washburn for allowing me to stand on a chiar. I'll step down now.

John Washburn said...

Laurie, thanks for your comment. I respect your opinion and all opinions are welcome here as long as they are respectful and in the interest of healthy debate. A few things to correct.

First, at no time did I blame the events in the middle east on Obama. I took issue with his lack of vocal support for Israel. I went on to say that it is important for him to speak clearly in times like these, lest he risk his silence being misinterpreted. Along those lines, WEP has been very fair to the new President. I have praised him when he was right and criticized him when he was wrong. You'll find that Bush got the same treatment as well. I will not blindly support every decision he makes just because he is our supposed "savior", nor will I spew the kind of hatred and venom that Bush received from the far Left. The issue with his clothes was an attempt to spark debate. You'll note that I made arguments on both sides. I think you're a bit too sensitive regarding our new President, probably because you overly anticipate the kind of negativity that Bush got. Well, you won't get that from conservatives like myself. Obama will get a fair shake from me, but I won't hesitate to call him out when he is wrong.

I find it interesting that you don't see the situation in Gaza as a priority because of our economic situation, yet your okay with us spending money for foreign abortions. You and Obama obviously share the same opinion there.

As far as the abortion issue, your entire argument is nothing more than rationalizing a horrible act. I've heard these arguments before. You say that over-population breeds poverty, and that's quite an assumption to make without actual facts. I'd point out that three of the more populous nations on this planet - the US, India and China - also have fairly strong economies, relatively speaking. Seems if your assumption were correct that things would be different.

I submit that poverty has many causes, among them are irresponsible leadership and simple lack of industrialization.

You then make another assumption, that controlling population would somehow control poverty. That's quite a stretch. And to what lengths are you willing to go to enforce these population controls? You're flirting with dangerous ideas.

But the most surprising comment was to say that abortion somehow spared children a life of suffering. Really? Are you willing to guarantee that? Because I'd remind you that some of the most amazing people in history came from impoverished backgrounds. Gandhi, King, Mother Teresa to name a few. Even Obama himself had a difficult childhood. The point is that it's better to give human beings the opportunity at life rather than predetermine that death in utero is for their own good. A culture of life has the best chance of overcoming poverty. Our own history should teach us that.

And since you're eager for people to see photos, how about viewing some photos of aborted fetuses? Or a video of a partial birth abortion. I assure you if these as common as photos of poverty then people wouldn't be so eager to spread the practice of abortion.

Laurie Foston said...

You have already given me a chance to speak once on your blog. Thank you for that. I'll send it to your email address should I decide to answer that more detail privately.