You can barely read an article about President Obama’s sojourn in Israel that doesn’t say the visit is without substance because Obama lacks a grand plan to end the conflict between the Palestinians and the Jews. That he’s not even bothering to try to negotiate.
Indeed, he’s not. His speech today to Israelis, given in typical Obama style to an audience of admiring children, was heavy on platitudes about Arabs and Jews putting aside differences and working for a better future. It wasn’t particularly serious stuff.
Many have written that the trip is kind of a grand photo op, noting cloying effort to portray goodwill. It’s to repair relations, as if that was an end in itself.
But something very substantive is in fact being done.
The best analysis of Obama’s visit I’ve seen is by Power Line’s Paul Mirengoff, who gets right to the point:
It seems clear to me, however, that Obama’s trip is primarily about Iran, not “peace” between Israelis and Palestinians.
When Obama asks himself what can go wrong in his second administration, an Israeli attack on Iran must rank high on his list. Such an attack would scramble the playing board in unpredictable ways. Possible consequences include oil shortages, war in the Middle East, and terrorist attacks on U.S. interests.
It follows that dissuading Netanyahu from attacking Iran almost certainly is the primary objective of Obama’s visit.
There can be no other reason.
Obama is not only repeatedly assuring Israel that the United States fully intends to bomb Iran’s nuclear program if need be, but he’s obsequiously snuggling up to Netanyahu every chance he gets.
He doesn’t need Jewish votes anymore, and his Israeli-pleasing actions – not visiting the tomb of Yassir Arafat while laying a wreath at that of Zionism founder Theodore Herzl, for example – must really be pissing off the Palestinians.
That’s not normal behavior for Obama. Mirengoff is right, he must have something else in mind. He wants to control the Iran situation, to convince Israel to back off while his sanctions finally, somehow, work their elusive magic.
Netanyahu will buy into the Obama’s charm at great peril to Israel’s security. I think he knows that. I think he knows Obama is about as reliable on stopping Iran as he is on reducing the U.S. deficit.
That’s why while Obama is talking about a year until Iran has a bomb – and Israel agrees with that timetable – Netanyahu said during Wednesday’s press conference his focus is on when Iran will have enough enriched uranium to build one. Because then the Mullahbomb will be unstoppable. And that moment is sooner, maybe much sooner, than a year away.