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OBAMA LEADING FROM THE COCKPIT

It's now about leading from above!

Barack Obama

 Alas, leading from behind will not work for US President Barack Obama in the Middle East. American jets are bombing and Tomahawk cruise missiles are blasting Islamic State ground forces and oil refineries in northern Syria and Iraq. After Gen. Martin Dempsey forewarned Obama that the air strikes on IS had better be serious or else he might have to recommend ground forces, the President got the message. Adding insult to injury, two of his former defense secretaries, Robert Gates and Leon Panetta, also castigated Obama for being too eager to withdraw US troops from Iraq, a move that has exacerbated the overall situation. With Saudi Arabia, Jordan, UAE, Bahrain and even Qatar joining Obama's invitation to follow his lead, Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron has now told the UN General Assembly that he's on board, as is Holland. The meltdown in Iraq and the civil war in Syria have spawned the IS juggernaut in those two former states and forced Obama to jettison his soft power, and switch to a harder foreign policy. This is how the US President described it in his address to the current session of the UN General Assembly in New York:

 'The only language understood by killers like this (IS) is the language of force'. 

Aerial footage of Jeribe modular oil refinery, an ISIL target taken out by US airstrikes

 Fortunately, America's commander-in-chief gave the order in the nick of time to help save hundreds of thousands of Kurds fleeing the IS forces in northern Syria. But has Obama now reverted to the role of becoming the 'world's policeman'? Not really, he appears to sound more like a wild-west sheriff leading a posse of concerned citizens out to catch the bad guys. But isn't that what the free world expects of its most powerful member? Or, as put by the British Prime Minister:

 'We must not be so frozen by fear that we don't do anything at all'.

'We will learn the lessons of the past, but we will not turn away from threats to our national interest'.

 Even Ed Miliband, the dovish leader of the British Labour party, supports a British role against Islamic State:

   'We will learn the lessons of the past, but we will not turn away from threats to our national interest'.

  Very well-spoken. Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu can even quote all three leaders when he refers to Israel's own private war with Hamas, another band of radical Islamists bent on its own genocidal goal of massacring the Jews (Israelis):

 'The Day of Judgment will not come until Muslims fight Jews and kill them. Then the Jews will hide behind rocks and trees, and the rocks and trees will cry out:" O' Muslim, there is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him!" '

New IS reqruits

 Does anyone in his right mind believe that Hamas would behave any differently than IS, if it got the chance and Israel lost even one war? Make no mistake, the only reason IS does not refer much to Israelis is that they are too busy trying to massacre other Muslims and Christians. Meanwhile IS maniacs are not thousands of miles away from London or Washington, but just a few miles from Israel's frontier on the Golan Heights. (As a matter of fact, Al Qaeda and Jabhat al Nusra have already gained control of the Syrian border). And yes, this is why many Israelis are a mite wary of making territorial concessions at this time. The country is taking stock after Hamas launched its recent rocket blitz of Israel that was preceded by the kidnap/killing of three Israeli youths on the West Bank. Moreover, intelligence officials have warned that Hezbollah on the Lebanese border might also copy the Hamas tactic of digging attack tunnels into Galilee; a one-two punch when combined with its arsenal of tens of thousands of rockets and missiles hidden in villages along the Lebanese frontier.

 Something in Obama's choice of words just doesn't ring right:

 'And the violence engulfing the region today has made too many Israelis ready to abandon the hard work of peace'.

...isn't it only normal that this violence should also make Israelis, 'not frozen by fear', but just a little more wary about their security...?

 It makes it sound as if those Israelis are a bunch of loafers and should get back on the job. But is it not only normal that this violence should also make Israelis, 'not frozen by fear', but just a little more wary about their security as are the Yanks and the Brits? What's more, why does Obama not call upon the Palestinian people, who celebrated the killing of the three Israeli youths and hold big demonstrations chanting 'Death to Israel' to come out in support of President Mahmoud Abbas. And there's more of this slanted symmetry:

 'We cannot afford to turn away from this effort - not when rockets are fired at innocent Israelis, or the lives of so many Palestinian children are taken from us in Gaza'.

  Again, like much of the international media, Obama does not distinguish between cause and effect. So I would ask him this simple question:

   'Mr. President, why is it that Palestinian civilians and children are not being killed today?'

Hamas rocket fire from Gaza

 The answer is because Hamas has ceased firing rockets into Israel, forcing the Jewish state to fire back in self-defense. And if Hamas resumes the rocketing, more Palestinians are likely to be killed if the terrorists use them, including their children, as human shields. Case in point: several days ago a rocket squad in Gaza broke the ceasefire and launched one rocket into Israel that fortunately did not harm any Israelis. Immediately, Hamas contacted the IDF declaring that a 'rogue unit' had fired the rocket and they would be arrested and punished. Israel verified that Hamas kept its word and did not retaliate.

 

More recently Ehud Olmert and Tzipi Livni also put in some 'hard work' with wide-ranging Israeli concessions that Abbas deigned to ignore.

  I would add this personal note that may also represent those 'too many Israelis ready to abandon the hard work of peace'. I continued to support the Oslo agreement signed by Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat on the White House lawn in 1993, although the Palestinian leader continued to send suicide bombers to blow up Israeli buses. Seven years later, Ehud Barak, another Labor prime minister, went to Camp David again with Arafat. And Arafat struck out by refusing to accept Clinton's two-state solution. More recently Ehud Olmert and Tzipi Livni also put in some 'hard work' with wide-ranging Israeli concessions that Abbas deigned to ignore. (All these peace plans were based on a two-state solution). Along the way Arik Sharon, to the world's astonishment, even withdrew the IDF and all the settlers, lock, stock and barrel from Gaza. It was an historic step in keeping with the slogan of 'territory for peace'.

 

Hamas

 But what did Israel get in return - A Hamas coup that took over Gaza, and the launching of thousands of rockets into Israel. Sharon's gamble of 'territory for peace' turned into 'territory for terror'! After being burnt once, it is true that more Israelis are insisting on 'territory for security'. And if Hamas, which keeps trying to topple Abbas, were not enough, we now face a horde of Muslim barbarians running roughshod through Iraq and Syria, and possibly reaching Israel's northern border on the Golan Heights. Don't forget Jordan, on Israel's eastern flank, which will be on the IS hit list if they are not halted in Iraq and Syria.

 

Although the Iranians categorically deny they are developing the where-with-all to break out for nuclear weapons when they are ready, they have repeatedly refused to allow IAEA officials to inspect the Parchin site.

 By the way there's also the Iranian nuclear threat. Despite the ongoing charm campaign of President Hassan Rouhani, the Iranians are continuing to stonewall the 5P+1 on the core issue of maintaining its nuclear weapons facilities. Israel has now disclosed that it has reliable information that Iranian scientists have conducted secret tests that could only be used for detonating a nuclear device. The tests were carried out at the secret Parchin military base near Tehran. Although the Iranians categorically deny they are developing the where-with-all to break out for nuclear weapons when they are ready, they have repeatedly refused to allow IAEA officials to inspect the Parchin site. In light of the focus on IS, Prime Minister Netanyahu has said he is concerned the U.S. will strike a trade-off with Iran to ease up on the nuclear issue in return for Tehran's cooperation in fighting Islamic State.

 

 THE BOTTOM LINE: WILL ISRAEL'S SECURITY THREAT ASSESSMENT BE IMPROVED OR WORSENED BY MAKING THE CONCESSIONS THAT PRESIDENT OBAMA WOULD LIKE TO SEE AT THIS TIME?

 

 

 

 

David Essing

 

 

 This is part of the new weekly update, a new column will appear every Friday.


 

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