The YouTube Video as a Dress Rehearsal
The Obama administration's handling of the organized assaults on American Embassies and personnel on September 11, 2012 – and later the other organized protests across the Middle East, North Africa, Afghanistan and Pakistan – is a window into its possible reaction should Israel conclude that the cost of facing a nuclear-armed Iran outweighs the cost of a military strike against Iranian facilities.
It was a "dress rehearsal," so to speak, and frightening at many levels – not least of which is that there appears to be no understanding in the White House that there are those who need the United States as their enemy. President Obama said "the tide of war is receding," but our withdrawal from Iraq and impending withdrawal from Afghanistan are understood by Iran, the Taliban, al Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood and various Salafist groups as unilateral retreats in the fact of their continuing expansion. This is not only true of Islamic organizations and governments; Vladimir Putin threw out USAID last week, undoing yet another part of the administration's "reset" with Russia, and Hugo Chavez keeps "U.S. imperialism" on his teleprompter for every occasion.
The administration pedaled as hard and fast as it could from association with the junky YouTube that it claimed set off the massive demonstrations across the Muslim world.
There couldn't have been a stronger and more concerted effort to ask people not to blame President Obama & Company – time, money and relegation of the First (and maybe the Fifth) Amendment to an afterthought.
It didn't work. A protester in Malaysia on Friday held a sign that read, "Obama, our patience has its limit. Don't blame us if your citizens die. Blame yourself. U started it!" In Egypt they raised the al Qaeda flag and chanted, "Obama, there are still a billion Osamas."
Compare that to Gen. Dempsey's comment – unquestionably pre-approved by the White House, since he's still got his stars – that the U.S. didn't want to be seen as "complicit" in any Israeli strike on Iran. His remark follows a series of high-profile efforts by the Administration to distance itself from Israel in the international arena even beyond administration-sanctioned statements that military action against Iran would be useless or counterproductive or premature.
The administration claims that bilateral U.S.-Israel relations are just peachy, but abandoning Israel in the international arena strongly enhances the efforts of the delegitimizers and boycotters. And to no end.
Radical Arab and Iranian good will cannot be bought by administration efforts to put distance between itself and Israel or by trying to steer their anger toward a single American exercising his First Amendment rights with a video camera. They are at war with the United States – with this president, with the last two and with the next one (whether in 2013 or 2017). Only by acknowledging the depth of the predicament and by standing with our friends, including Israel, can we hope to defeat our foes. Hiding or sidling away won't help.
Our enemies are smarter than that.
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