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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Obama's personal morality and Israel's security

The most striking thing about the first 100 days of the Obama Presidency is the extent to which the new President has sought to impose his worldview on the United States - and by extension the world - through immediate and sometimes drastic policy initiatives. From the massive expansion in government, to the takeover of private businesses like banks and automobile manufacturers, and to his 'outing' of CIA interrogation techniques, Obama has represented a radical shift in the way the United States does business. No President - at least in my recollection - has so explicitly attempted to stamp the nation and the world with his personal worldview and 'moral compass.' It behooves Americans - and Israelis - to examine what we might be in for in the next three and a half years.

In Sunday's Washington Post, former CIA officer Michael Scheueur rips Obama for his behavior on the torture issue, arguing that Obama's worldview is fantastical and that he has no right to place American lives at risk to implement it (Hat Tip: Lawhawk via Little Green Footballs).
Before enthroning Obama's personal morality as U.S. defense policy, of course, some dirty work had to be done. Last Sunday, Obama's hit man and White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel led the charge by telling the American people that the interrogation techniques are a major recruiting tool for al-Qaeda and its Islamist partners. Well, no, Mr. Emanuel, that is not at all the case. The techniques surely are not popular with our foes and their supporters -- should that be a concern in any event? -- but they do not even make the Islamists' hit parade of anti-U.S. recruiting tools. That list is headed by Washington's support for Arab tyrannies in Saudi Arabia and Egypt, its presence on the Arabian Peninsula and its unqualified support for Israel [Note that Israel is only in third place and that Scheuer is not advocating changing American policies in those three areas. CiJ]. Still, Emanuel's statement surely sounded plausible to Americans who have received no education about our Islamist enemy's true motivation from Obama, George W. Bush, Clinton or George H.W. Bush.

Next, the president used his personal popularity and the stature of his office to implicitly identify as liars those former senior U.S. officials who know -- not "argue" or "contend" or "assert" but know -- that the interrogation techniques have yielded intelligence essential to the nation's defense. The integrity, intellect and reputations of Judge Michael Mukasey, Gen. Michael V. Hayden and others have now been besmirched by Obama because their realistic worldview and firsthand experience do not mesh with the president's desire to install his personal "moral compass" as the core of U.S. foreign and defense policy. And after visiting CIA headquarters last week, the president made it clear that he rejected statements surely made by CIA officers who risked their careers to tell him how many successful covert operations against al-Qaeda have flowed from interrogation information. As with all Jacobins, Obama cannot allow a hard and often brutal reality -- call it an inconvenient truth -- to impinge on his view of how the world should and must be made to work.


Americans and their country's security will be the losers. The Republicans do not have the votes to stop Obama, and the world will not be safer for America because the president abandons interrogations to please his party's left wing and the European pacifists it so admires. Both are incorrigibly anti-American, oppose the use of force in America's defense and -- like Obama -- naively believe that the West's Islamist foes can be sweet-talked into a future alive with the sound of kumbaya.

So if the above worst-case scenario ever comes to pass, Americans will have at least two things from which to take solace, even after the loss of major cities and tens of thousands of countrymen. First, they will know that their president believes that those losses are a small price to pay for stopping interrogations and making foreign peoples like us more. And second, they will see Osama bin Laden's shy smile turn into a calm and beautiful God-is-Great grin.
This kind of worldview may sound familiar to Israelis. If not, it should. It's the uber-moral worldview that has driven the 'Oslo process' since the mid-'90's - the entire notion that because we want peace, the other side must want it. It's a dangerous delusion. It ignores reality. Its results are the kinds of policies that had the IDF sending 23 boys to their deaths in Jenin in 2003 (and still having it termed a 'massacre') rather than using somewhat-less-precise precision bombing from the air that would have caused 'civilian casualties' but saved Israeli lives.

We have only recently started to climb out of our moral stupor in this regard: Haaretz complained last week that during Operation Cast Lead, the IDF was too willing to chance civilians casualties among the 'Palestinians' to save the lives of IDF soldiers. If that's true, I view that as a good, moral and Jewish approach. After all, the Talmud requires that when someone comes to kill you, you must kill him first. And we have elected a Right wing government, which we can only hope and pray will not buckle under American pressure and adopt the policies of the Left.

But there's a second side of Obama's worldview of which Israelis must be wary, and that is his view of Israel itself. This is from an interview with Victor Davis Hanson:
Does Team Obama really believe that a murderous autocratic cabal like Hamas is merely different from a democratic constitutional republic like Israel? At best we have naiveté at the helm (Obama thinks he can mesmerize misunderstood killers), at worst, a genuine feeling that Israel is an aggressive, Western imperialist power exploiting indigenous people of color who simply wish to be free--in other words, the Rev. Wright-Bill Ayers-Rashid Khalidi view of the Middle East.
Unfortunately, I believe that we are facing Hanson's worst case scenario in the Obama administration. If I am correct, then please consider the following: While a besieged democracy may have some right of self-defense in Obama's worldview, "an aggressive, Western imperialist power exploiting indigenous people of color who simply wish to be free" would have much less of a right. Obama's 'moral compass' would require us to give the 'Palestinians' what they want.

The kinds of techniques the CIA used on al-Qaeda have been discussed at length in Israeli society and in its courts. If there is a 'ticking bomb' it should be clear that Israel must act to stop the terror attack that is causing it. Jewish morality - the only morality that should count for Jews - does not expect us to commit suicide to save the life of a terrorist. And it doesn't expect - in fact it probably forbids us - from facilitating the establishment of a terror state in our midst that will cost Jewish lives but fulfill a utopian, European pacifist worldview that is currently in vogue in Washington.

If that causes a break between Israel and the Obama administration, so be it.


At 4:24 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Israel cannot do what the rest of the world wants and still hope to see out the rest of this century. No Israeli leader has the right to jeopardize the country's existence to please it. And yet that is exactly what Israeli leaders (including yes, Benjamin Netanyahu) have been doing over the past 16 years. The most destructive consequence of the Oslo path under governments of both the Left and the Right in Israel has been the delusion peace can be achieved by simply ignoring the reality that even if the other side doesn't want it, it can be imposed on them. That's a drunken stupor Israel is slowly shaking off. And its probably not fast enough to do the good it should for the sake of the country's future.

At 11:49 PM, Blogger the_raptor said...

Be careful of relying on anything Scheuer says. Scheuer is nut who has internalized the Arab grievance list. Today, maybe, he notes that the Palsestinian cause is way down Al Qaeda's grievance list; but at other times he has not been shy about claiming that US support for Israel is the main reason that Al Qaeda hates us. "They hate us for what we do" he often says.

At 11:56 PM, Blogger the_raptor said...

I will add that the ironies of having Scheuer lead the defense of the CIA against the Obama administration are rich. Scheuer, don't forget, led the charge of the CIA's leak-war against Bush, and published Imperial Hubris (anonymously) in an effort to give the 2004 Presidential campaign to John Kerry.

Hey, Mr. Scheur, you and your buddies at the CIA wanted a liberal Democrat for President. Aren't you happy now?

At 3:25 AM, Blogger Antonov said...

if you really desire to protect the jewish state, don't just sit there, strike Iran now before it's too late. Ahmadinejad has no place in this civilised world.

Barry (hussein) Soetero is in cahoots with his Islamist murderous brothers, they have not invented anything for the advancement of humanity, but for the destruction of it. this people has no place in this planet, go go go Israel.


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