In October 2001, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon issued a prophetic warning: “Do not repeat the dreadful mistake of 1938, when enlightened European democracies decided to sacrifice Czechoslovakia for a ‘convenient temporary solution.’ ” He declared: “Israel will not be Czechoslovakia.”
Tragically, President Obama today is increasingly treating Israel as Western leaders did in abandoning the Czechs 74 years ago. He is signaling to a genocidal regime in Iran that the Jewish state is on its own — a signal like the one to which Adolf Hitler responded with the worst bloodletting in world history.
To be sure, Team Obama has engaged from the get-go in what Mitt Romney has called “throwing allies like Israel under the bus.” For example, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been treated with utter contempt by Mr. Obama. His demands that the Jewish state make serial and unreciprocated concessions to its Palestinian enemies — including adopting indefensible borders — have been dictated in public and high-handed ways.
Even more troubling has been the cumulative effect of Obama policies toward the Middle East that are helping transform large swaths of the region into a festering Islamist sore, prone to jihad — most immediately against Israel and, inevitably, against the United States. In particular, Mr. Obama’s determination to legitimize, empower and enrich the government of Egypt’s new Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi adds materially to the danger confronting the Jewish state and American interests.
The legitimization will reach new heights later this month when Mr. Morsi gets the red-carpet treatment in New York and Washington. The empowering included not just demands conveyed by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in July that the Egyptian military surrender power to the Brotherhood-dominated presidency and legislature. It also apparently entails U.S. acquiescence to Mr. Morsi’s moves to remilitarize the Sinai in violation of the Camp David Accords. The enriching piece involved an unconditional, lump-sum payment earlier this year, over bipartisan congressional objections, and is reportedly to be followed by the incipient transfer of a further $1 billion.
Predictably, as with the sellout of Czechoslovakia in the 1930s, what such concessions will produce is an emboldening of freedom’s enemies. That will not be good for its friends — here or abroad.
Much the same can be said of the Obama administration’s appeasement of Iran. Yes, it has reluctantly imposed — usually at the insistence of the Congress — sanctions on various aspects of the regime and its supporting industrial, commercial and security edifices. But in virtually every other regard, Team Obama has bought time for the mullahs to complete their nuclear weapons program and efforts to render it essentially invulnerable to attack through relocation of enrichment operations to hardened underground factories.
Mr. Obama and his civilian and military subordinates have done just about everything short of a pre-emptive strike on the Jewish state to prevent the Israelis from trying to neutralize a looming existential threat to their nation. They are said to have employed both carrots and sticks — for example, promises of help with doing the deed after the election (just trust us) and evidently compromises of Israeli operational plans for recovering strike aircraft in Azerbaijan, which had the desired effect of foreclosing that option.
In the face of mounting evidence that Israel feels compelled to act alone and within the next two months, the Obama administration has become even more aggressive. In London last week, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, went so far as to declare his opposition to such an attack, saying, “I don’t want to be complicit if they choose to do it.”
While the exact meaning of that statement is unclear, an indication of what the general — and his boss, the commander in chief — have in mind might have been the subject of a report in the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth. It claims that U.S. diplomats have gone to third parties to communicate to Iran that the United States will not support an Israeli strike on the Iranian nuclear program provided the mullahs “steer clear of strategic American assets in the Persian Gulf.” One can almost hear Neville Chamberlain pledging no objection to the Czechs losing the Sudetenland to the Nazis as long as Hitler agreed to leave the French and Brits alone. While the White House spokesman says the report is “false,” it sure sounds right.
What if Israel does attack Iran and Iran does retaliate — not only against U.S. “assets” in the Persian Gulf, but elsewhere, including in this country? Can the possibility be ruled out that this president — simpatico as he clearly is with the Iranian regime and hostile as he clearly is toward Israel — responds by finding ways to punish the Jewish state that go beyond a refusal to sustain its military capabilities, as Nixon did in 1973? Could he even use the pretext of attacks by Iran or its proxies here to invoke the sweeping emergency powers he has granted himself and his subordinates in a series of executive orders to disrupt an election that might otherwise unseat him?
We cannot know the answers to such questions at the moment. We can only imagine, though, if this is how Mr. Obama behaves on the eve of a national election in which Jewish votes may be critical to his bid for a second term, how he will treat Israel if he has “more flexibility” post-November.
Frank J. Gaffney Jr. is president of the Center for Security Policy (SecureFreedom.org), a columnist for The Washington Times and host of the nationally syndicated program Secure Freedom Radio, heard in Washington weeknights at 9 p.m. on WRC 1260 AM.