In hindsight, it will probably be obvious that the missteps of the Obama administration vis-a-vis Israel were critical catalysts to a war that today seems ever more likely to engulf the Middle East, and perhaps the world more generally. Assuming such an outcome is neither the intention of the president and his team, nor desired by them, American course corrections must be urgently taken.
To be sure, as is often the case in the moment, a different narrative is operating. The rising tensions in the region are widely seen as the fault of the Jewish state. Most recently, Israel is being portrayed as the villain of the bloody interception of a "humanitarian flotilla" bringing relief aid to the Gaza Strip.
Before that, the Jewish state has been serially excoriated for: engaging in "illegal" construction of homes in Jerusalem; exercising "disproportionate force" in military action in Gaza, including, by some accounts, "war crimes"; and being intransigent with respect to the sorts of territorial, strategic, and political concessions needed to advance the "peace process" with the Palestinians.
In each case, the Obama administration has either strongly endorsed these mimes or acted fecklessly to challenge them. Throughout their 17 months in office, the president and his senior subordinates have been at pains to demonstrate a more even-handed approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and to "engage" the Muslim "world."
The practical effect, however, has been to excuse, empower, and embolden those hostile not just to Israel but to the United States as well. Consider just a few ominous examples: The Iranian regime has understood that the Obama administration will do nothing to defeat the realization of Tehran's longstanding ambitions to acquire nuclear weapons.
Instead, the United States is now focused on how it will "live with" a nuclear-armed Iran by trying to "contain" it. Meantime, the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency says Tehran has enough enriched uranium to make two atomic weapons. If true, it will be a matter of a relatively short time before such material is sufficiently processed to be ready for that purpose.
The Syrians have, presumably at Iran's direction and with its help, transferred dangerous Scud missiles to the mullah's re-armed terrorist proxy, Hezbollah. Particularly if equipped with chemical or biological weapons (which the Syrians and Iranians have in abundance), such missiles would pose a mortal threat to Israel and her people.
Egypt has recently conducted offensively oriented war games in the Sinai Peninsula. Their clear purpose: Honing the Egyptian military's capabilities for renewed attacks on Israel. The government of Hosni Mubarak has also failed to halt the massive network of smuggling tunnels into Gaza that are supplying another of Iran's terrorist surrogates, Hamas, with an array of ever-more-deadly weapons in preparation for when (not if) hostilities are resumed with Israel.
Even before the weekend's conflict over the blockade-running "aid flotilla," Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had effectively terminated the close ties Israel once had with his country. Erdogan's accelerating Islamicization of the once-secular Turkey has been accompanied by his intensifying rapprochement with Iran and Syria.
Notably, the Turks recently joined Brazil for the transparent purpose of running interference for Tehran's nuclear weapons program. It remains to be seen whether these three nations will succeed in sabotaging Team Obama's latest bid to secure a new UN sanctions resolution against the mullahs.
Last week, a powerful new weapon in the campaign to delegitimize the Jewish state was spawned by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference. It mandated negotiations to start in 2012 with the aim of ridding the Middle East of nuclear weapons. Israel was the only nation named. It would also likely be the only one disarmed if the transnationalists (both the secular UN types and Shariah-adherent ones) have their way.
These developments have two things in common: First, particularly when taken together, they constitute the greatest existential threat to Israel since 1973. And second, they reflect — and powerfully reinforce — a growing perception that the United States has cut Israel loose.
Israel's many friends in this country — particularly a number of American Jews critical to Democratic electoral prospects this fall — finally seem to have awakened to these realities. Hence, Team Obama's feverish effort last week to have the president seen with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a man it had humiliatingly spurned and publicly upbraided just a few months ago. (Mr. Netanyahu's decision to head home to deal with the flotilla crisis spared both men the obvious PR challenges associated with the former making a Washington visit at this juncture.)
Unfortunately, matters have reached the point where such calculated exercises in Potemkin political rehabilitation will not suffice. Ditto rhetorical pledges of unseverable bilateral ties.
Unless and until President Obama gives comprehensive and tangible expression to America's commitment to Israel — in terms of reliable military assistance, unstinting diplomatic support, and wide latitude to act in its self-defense — the forces that have been unleashed by him and others will assuredly translate, in due course, to war.
It is certainly harder to do such prophylactic things today than it would have been at the outset of the Obama presidency. But such costs are nothing compared to those that will be incurred by freedom-loving people in the Middle East and elsewhere, including here, if he fails to undertake these necessary course-corrections.
Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. is President of the Center for Security Policy, a columnist for the Washington Times and host of the nationally syndicated program "Secure Freedom Radio" heard in Washington weeknights at 9:00 p.m. on WTNT 570 AM.
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