Having lived through the Sturm and Drang over the precisely accurate “16 words” regarding Saddam Hussein in President Bush’s 2003 State of the Union Address, I am struck by the media’s — how to put it? — lack of interest in the absurd falsehoods retailed by President Obama et al. in the service of equally consequential causes.
President Obama and Secretary Kerry, for example, have both cited the fatwa allegedly promulgated by Iran’s Supreme Leader prohibiting the development of nuclear weapons in support of their arrangement in process with Iran. MEMRI has demonstrated over and over the nonexistence of the fatwa. Most recently, MEMRI has put it this way (footnotes omitted):
In President Obama’s announcement of the joint statement following the conclusion of the negotiations in Lausanne, he again mentioned the nonexistent fatwa, stating as fact that Iran’s Supreme Leader has issued a fatwa against the development of nuclear weapons. This assertion by the president is not true. Such a fatwa has never been issued, and to this day no one has been able to show it, as MEMRI has detailed in five reports so far.
Where is the Sturm? Where is the Drang? They having gone missing along with the fatuous fatwa.
In his recent interview with the worshipful New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, Obama said this:
“I have to respect the fears that the Israeli people have, and I understand that Prime Minister Netanyahu is expressing the deep-rooted concerns that a lot of the Israeli population feel about this, but what I can say to them is: Number one, this is our best bet by far to make sure Iran doesn’t get a nuclear weapon, and number two, what we will be doing even as we enter into this deal is sending a very clear message to the Iranians and to the entire region that if anybody messes with Israel, America will be there.”
Elliott Abrams seeks to explicate Obama’s use of the term “messes with” in this passage:
What does “messes with Israel” mean? No one has the slightest idea. The President unfortunately uses this kind of diction too often, dumbing down his rhetoric for some reason and leaving listeners confused. Today, Iran is sending arms and money to Hamas in Gaza, and has done so for years. Is that “messing with Israel?” Iran has tried to blow up several Israeli embassies, repeating the successful attack it made on Israel’s embassy in Buenos Aires in 1992. Fortunately Israel has foiled the more recent plots, but is attempting to bomb Israeli embassies “messing with Israel?” Iranian Revolutionary Guards, along with Hezbollah troops, are in southern Syria now near the Golan. Is that “messing with Israel?” And what does the President mean by “America will be there?’ With arms? With bandages? With the diplomatic protection his administration is now considering removing at the United Nations?
If Iran “messes with Israel” via a nuclear weapon, is Obama promising retaliation by the United States? The context seems to me to suggest something like this, yet it is an absurd form of reassurance. If Iran were to “mess with Israel” via a nuclear weapon, Israel would retaliate on its own behalf, but otherwise wouldn’t be around to enjoy the show. Abrams takes this up in connection with another of Obama’s statements to Friedman, commenting:
What Israel worries about today is a nuclear attack by Iran or a terrorist group like Hezbollah to which Iran has given the bomb. No doubt that qualifies as “messing with Israel,” but were that to occur what exactly would “America will be there” and “stand by them” mean? Take in refugees from the destroyed State of Israel after the nuclear attack on it? The President’s language about “commitments” suggests that he may envision a formal defense commitment by the United States to Israel. Israel has not wanted such a treaty because it has always said it wants to defend itself, not have Americans dying to defend it. That position has served the US-Israel relationship well for 67 years. Should it really be changed now, and would that really help Israel? What would the value of such a commitment be? To ask the question another way, are not Poles and Estonians wondering right now about the value of their membership in NATO, if Mr. Putin “messes” with them?
The conclusion that I draw is not a new one; it is an old one. Obama and his minions repeatedly prove themselves willing to say anything in a bad cause. Beyond that, Obama’s words signify nothing. It is best not to put to much effort into trying to construe their precise meaning other than as instruments to promote the sale. One would think that this development might be newsworthy, but in Obama’s case, the news has become the preserve of an obscure institute specializing in Middle East research, or an out of the way blog maintained by a former Reagan/Bush administration official.
Abrams has more, all of it worth reading, in “‘Messing’ with Israel.”