November 3, 2012
Motzei Shabbat (After Shabbat)
Likely my last major communication on the issue of the US election. And this one with a very specific focus.
On Friday, in the Jerusalem Post, Alan Dershowitz had a major piece called, "The case for Obama's reelection." It was so rife with distortions, I could not let it pass. It read to me like a campaign document, not a serious analysis of how the president has conducted himself.
Alan Dershowitz is a big name and highly respected in many quarters -- thus likely to be believed in what he writes. And so, I offer this as a counter to anyone who may have seen Dershowitz's piece -- either in the JPost or in other venues where it may have appeared -- and feels inclined to accept his word on the issues. I will do this briefly, touching on main points he attempted to make:
Dershowitz says that Obama's "approach to foreign policy…has improved the standing of America around the world." That's because when Obama's predecessor, George Bush, was president, "many of the US’s strongest allies became alienated by America’s unilateralism," and now Obama works closely with allies.
But in point of fact, Obama has weakened the international standing of the US.
What Dershowitz is talking about with regard to "America's unilateralism" is Bush's courage as a leader in making decisions that needed to be made. America was seen across the Western world as a leader. There was a long-standing concept of American exceptionalism that moved to right wrongs in the world.
Obama will have none of this, and both America and the world are worse for it. Obama has made it clear that the US should be "one of the guys" and no more, diplomatically speaking. But what "the guys" are doing may be ill advised if not down-right reprehensible.
A case in point. The Obama administration decided to join the UN Human Rights Committee, which is notorious for its anti-Israel positions. The Bush administration had shunned any participation in this group. Obama's argument was that membership would allow the US to have influence. This is dubious, as most of the members of the committee are third world nations or those which are solidly anti-US, and not about to be influenced by America. What American membership did was confer increased legitimacy upon the group. Anne Bayefsky of "Eye on the UN" has documented times when the US representative on the committee failed to protest meaningfully during proceedings that were badly biased. This is Obama being "one of the guys.'
In giving what is supposed to be a prime example of how Obama was able "work with allies," Dershowitz speaks about how Obama, working with others, managed to impose "the harshest possible sanctions on Iran."
Excuse me? What nonsensical campaign rhetoric! Not just "very harsh" but "the harshest possible."
This past week, France was talking about increasing sanctions. This was the result of encouragement not by Obama but by Netanyahu, There was a point at which Obama was actually leading from behind on sanctions and needed to be pushed by the Senate. Europeans leaders, who moved ahead of him in their initiative, were not pleased with his foot-dragging.
America’s allies in the Arab world, such as Saudi Arabia, had asked Obama, beyond all else, to take a strong stand on Iran (which would have included a credible military threat). They wanted him to lead the way and were greatly disappointed by his response. He has no leverage with them: they mock his weakness.
But most startling is what Dershowitz claims has been Obama’s response to Islamic extremism:
Obama, he says, has worked with allies to "depose Muammar Gaddafi and to help keep the Arab spring from turning into an extremist Muslim winter. President Obama also succeeded in killing Osama bin Laden and crippling al-Qaeda."
That he could, at this juncture, say all of this left me aghast. Can it possibly be that he does not know that his claims diverge seriously from the facts?
"Obama succeeded in killing Osama bin Laden." Well, not quite. What he did was give the OK for him to be killed, but stating it this way puts the emphasis on Obama and not on the CIA agents who planned the operation or the Navy SEALs who executed the assassination in the field. As I have heard it, he was actually acting on an executive order to pursue bin Laden that had been in place before he took office, and that he vacillated before finally giving that order.
Be that as it may, bin Laden was taken out on his watch. And he has made the most of this.
But the fact of the matter is that bin Laden’s death did not "cripple" al-Qaeda in the way Obama wants people to believe it did. This is simply a cornerstone of his campaign. A political myth has been constructed of the resolute American president who sent the enemy on the run: Relax, folks, things are OK under Obama and the war on al-Qaeda is being won.
Well, not exactly. I cited Barry Rubin on this at length recently. Al-Qaeda is connected to ideology rather than to geography. Thus it can switch venues, for example pulling back in Pakistan, but remain strong. Al-Qaeda is exceedingly powerful in Mali now, and is in Iraq and in Gaza.
Most to the point here is the fact that it has cells -- including training cells -- in Libya. This is what the whole Benghazi scandal is about! There is convincing evidence that al-Qaeda killed Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans. Obama did everything he could to hide this fact because it undercut his claim to have made the Middle East safer by having seriously weakened al-Qaeda.
Also shocking is Dershowitz’s statement that Obama worked with allies to "help keep the Arab spring from becoming an extremist Muslim winter." For the "spring" has been very much a victory for Islamist extremists.
More than once, Obama -- who seems to prefer anti-American radicals to despots -- helped make an Islamist ascendency possible. He pushed out a pro-American Mubarak in Egypt and paved the way for the Muslim Brotherhood take over. And it has been revealed that, in order to facilitate the downfall of Gadaffi, the Americans actually provided arms to radicals in Libya.
After discussing all of this, Dershowitz says that Obama "has strongly supported Israel’s security by helping to construct the Iron Dome." But this is a joke. Not that there wasn't help with the Iron Dome, but that this is not the essential point. By helping Islamist forces garner strength in the Middle East, Obama has seriously undermined Israeli security.
Enough said, and I end with a prayer.
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