Thanks to President Obama, the odds that effective action will be taken against Iran’s nuclear weapons program have increased in recent months, and perhaps significantly. Not action by the U.S. of course; Obama intends to fiddle and diddle indefinitely. But Obama’s conduct has made it more likely that Israel will attack Iran.
Prime Minister Netanyahu, who reportedly had Obama pegged as the next U.S. president back in 2007, has now had plenty of occasion to size up Obama as president. It’s inconceivable that Netanyahu has any respect for Obama, much less that he believes Obama will do anything to assist Israel in dealing with the Iranian threat.
For one thing, Netanyahu witnessed first-hand Obama’s botched effort at dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. It’s not just that Obama tilted towards the Palestinians; more important is the fact that he did it so ineffectually. Netanyahu ran rings around Obama, getting his way, gaining popularity at Obama’s expense, and placing the Palestinian leader (if he still can be called that) in an untenable position. How could Netanyahu have emerged from this saga with any respect for Obama?
Second, Obama has revealed himself to be an utter fool when it comes to international matters. His sophomorically utopian speech to the U.N surely left no doubt in Netanyahu’s mind that Obama is too fundamentally unserious to be of any use in dealing with Iran.
This reality should have been apparent to Netanyahu from day one; in fact, Netanyahu had plenty of reason to doubt that even President Bush was going to take on Iran. But wishful thinking is a powerful force even for someone as smart and experienced as Netanyahu, especially when it comes taking drastic unilateral action that risks antagonizing the U.S., not to mention the rest of the world How much easier to believe that the U.S. might finally lend a meaningful hand.
After the painful spectacle of Obama’s U.N. address, however, no amount of wishful thinking can obscure Israel’s situation. Israel is in this alone. Not only can Obama not be expected to partner with Israel when it comes to dealing with Iran, he cannot be counted on to provide — indeed he is not capable of providing — sound counsel on the matter. And perhaps most importantly, Netanyahu has less to fear from ignoring Obama’s counsel then he would from a formidable, or even just competent, American president.
Thus, Netanyahu must feel less constrained from acting alone, even as he fully realizes that acting along represents the only option for acting.
President Obama seems to relish passing judgment on the world and its leaders, as well as his own country. But Obama isn’t just judging the world; he’s also being judged by the world’s leaders — friend and foe alike. And being judged mercilessly.
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