Sunday, October 28, 2012

An Obama unshackled by considerations of reelection is a serious concern

From JPost, 26 Oct 2012, by Martin Sherman:
The prospect of a White House incumbent with an inherent affinity for Israel’s adversaries and unshackled by considerations of reelection is one that must be considered with the utmost seriousness.
US President Obama at White House Rose Garden
Photo: Yuri Gripas / Reuters
Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided – Barack Obama to AIPAC, June 4, 2008

Well the issue of it being undivided... I said immediately after the speech that that word [“undivided”] was poorly chosen– Barack Obama on ABC, July 23, 2008

There should not be a shred of doubt by now... I have Israel’s back – Barack Obama to AIPAC, March 4, 2012

It [having Israel’s back] was not a military doctrine that we were laying out for any particular military action.... What it means is that, historically, we have always cooperated with Israel... just like we do with Great Britain, just like we do with Japan – Barack Obama, at the White House, March 4, 2012

By most accounts – mine included – Barack Obama gave a sterling performance on Monday in the third debate with Mitt Romney. Attempts by Republican pundits, like the usually perceptive Charles Krauthammer, to declare a Romney victory, were largely unconvincing...

Not about oratory skills
But the upcoming US elections are not – or at least, should not be – about which of the two candidates has the superior rhetorical skills.
...the November elections are pivotal for the US and its allies. Their results have ramifications that could irreversibly determine the fate of America for decades...
...It is this conceptual cleavage and a comprehension of its consequences, not the personal likability of the candidates or past party allegiances, that should determine voter-choice at the polls.

Freedom vs fairness
...The core differential between the two approaches is that while one prioritizes energetic wealth-creation, the other prioritizes equitable wealth-allocation.
The inevitable consequence of this is divergent perspectives regarding the ranking of societal values.
In the former approach, the dominant value would be “freedom” – even if that means creating some inequities; in the latter, the dominant value would be “fairness” – even if that means curtailing some liberties.
...On the one hand, we have
  • an approach that emphasizes the promotion of enterprise, on the other, one that emphasizes the provision of entitlements;
  • an attitude that fosters respect for success and achievement, as opposed to one that foments resentment toward them;
  • an outlook that incentivizes industry versus one that induces indolence;
  • a belief that encourages self-reliance and individual responsibility counter-posed against one that engenders dependency and societal scapegoating.
Men standing in buckets
Unsurprisingly, these divergent philosophies tend to generate divergent policy preferences – the one oriented toward the (re)generation of wealth; the other toward the (re)allocation thereof.
Of course, the principal means by which to effect reallocation of wealth is taxation, but it is hardly one likely to achieve its regeneration.
As Winston Churchill remarked wryly: “...for a nation to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.”
Of course, some level of taxation is imperative to generate wealth-creating/ facilitating infrastructures, maintain national defense, preserve law and order, sustain a certain level of social welfare services and so on. But when raised above a certain level, taxation begins to drive off wealth-producing talents/resources to more fiscally benign locations, making tax increases on dwindling fiscal sources increasingly self-defeating.
Whether this level has been reached in the US is a matter of contention, but with 70 percent of federal taxes being paid by 10% of the income-earners, a compelling case could be made that it has. And while a seemingly plausible claim could be made that it would be “fair” to increase taxes on the wealthy, this would be far more likely to be “socially cosmetic” than substantially remedial in terms of deficit reduction.
After all, higher tax rates do not necessarily bring higher tax revenues. They may well achieve the opposite.
Success as a sin
How does all this relate to the question of foreign policy and Obama’s attitude to Israel? The same mindset that sanctifies egalitarianism in domestic affairs has its counterpart in international affairs. The same strains of resentment and envy, suspicion of others’ achievement, the belief that the success of some was necessarily the product of exploitation pervades much of the anti-colonial, anti-American – and yes, anti-Zionist – philosophy of many members of the Non-Aligned Movement....
Disturbing ‘political body language’
...[Obama] is undeniably the most Islamophilic president ever to occupy the White House, who somehow sees that a “[Constitution-compliant] America and a [Shari’a-compliant] Islam...overlap, and share common principles – principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings” (Cairo, 2009).
His strong pro-Islamic predilections have manifested themselves in a myriad of gestures – both symbolic and verbal – which collectively might be dubbed telltale “political body language.”
To name but a few, these include:
  • Obama’s highly “imaginative” and exaggerated portrayal of Islam’s role in US history: “I know...that Islam has always been a part of America’s story.”
  • His insistence on allotting the Muslim Brotherhood seats of honor at his flagship outreach speech at Cairo University, to the chagrin of his hosts.
  • His deep – some would say obsequious – bow to the Saudi king, guardian of Mecca.
  • The “sanitizing” of FBI and Department of Homeland Security counter-terror manuals of any references to Islam-related terms in defining the nature of the threat facing the US and its citizens from the forces of radical Islam.
  • The seemingly cozy relationship with, and the frequent access to, the White House that associates of the Muslim Brotherhood have been afforded by the administration.
This is but a partial list of a long series of words and deeds that reflect an unprecedented affinity for Islam by a US president...
Backtracking and broken pledges
Against this backdrop of Islamophilic sentiment, the naked antipathy displayed by Obama and several of his senior administration officials toward Israel and its prime minister are all the more troubling. The numerous incidents of insults, humiliations and public reprimands have been well-documented by others and I will spare the reader their repetition here.
True, the Obama administration has acted assertively and forcefully to preserve and promote Israeli interests on a number of critical issues. These have included enhancing military aid for Israel’s anti-missile program; exercising US veto power to block a one-sided Security Council resolution condemning Israel on settlements; and strongly supporting Israel at the UN to block the Palestinian unilateral bid for statehood recognition. These steps are in no way trivial.
However, the more circumspect observer might suggest that this welcome conduct should not be ascribed to any underlying pro-Israel sentiment but to growing concern over the consequences of a Jewish voter backlash – particularly after the shock Democrat defeat, for the first time in almost a century – in last year’s elections in New York’s 9th Congressional District.
For a second-term incumbent, this would no longer be a consideration of any weight.
Likewise, recent professions of “unprecedented cooperation” by senior Israeli officials should be viewed cautiously through the lens of diplomatic protocol, political constraints and institutional inertia. Indeed, even if true, there is no guarantee of their permanence.
For US Jews who care about Israel, what should be a matter of deep concern is the unbearable ease and breathtaking speed with which the president has broken pledges and backtracked on promises on issues of crucial importance for Israel – as the introductory excerpts illustrate.
During Obama’s term in office, [radical] Islam[ism] has made massive gains.
  • The radical Shi’ite regime in Tehran is four crucial years closer to a nuclear capability, yet he steadfastly refuses to set out “red lines” to halt its progress, clinging to the forlorn hope that somehow sanctions will induce the savage theocracy to comply because of the suffering sanctions inflict on the general population.
  • Elsewhere, radical Sunnis are in ascendency across the region, seizing power in some countries and vying strongly for it in others. Soon Israel may find itself surrounded by Muslim Brotherhood-dominated regimes. Obama does not seem to consider this a major geo-political threat to US interests.
  • Sinai has become a virtually unencumbered launching pad for jihadi gangs.
Clearly a position of almost unprecedented peril is emerging for Israel. True, Obama promised to back Israel if it was attacked. But that pledge – even if honored – would be cold comfort if that attack were nuclear.
A president unmoored
There is a distinct possibility that Israel could face a second-term president who is fundamentally unmoored to America’s Judeo-Christian heritage, a heritage, which, despite occasional periods of tensions, was for decades the elemental underpinning of the relationship between the two countries.
The prospect of a White House incumbent with an inherent affinity for Israel’s adversaries and unshackled by considerations of reelection is one that must be considered with the utmost seriousness. It is one US Jews should weigh carefully before they cast their ballot.

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