Leave it to New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman to shill shamelessly for President Barack Obama. In a lengthy interview about the Iran nuclear framework, the ever-sycophantic Friedman gives us new insight into the banality of mediocrity—Obama’s as statesman and his as journalist. Seldom before have we seen such a coupling try to spin diplomatic surrender into victory.
Unchallenged, the voluble Obama reveals his personal hurt about being labeled anti-Israel by segments of the American Jewish community. Once again, Obama reminds Friedman’s viewers and readers that he stands behind Israel.
Yet Obama’s egregious behavior toward the Jewish state reminds some of us of General Norman Schwarzkopf’s blunt-but-accurate statements about the Arab forces in his Desert Storm coalition. Asked how he felt about his Arab partners, Schwarzkopf—without hesitation—responded that he was fine with them as long as they were not at his rear. If he had to retreat, he did not want to be shot in the back.
Similarly, Israel cannot afford the vulnerability of Obama at its rear. This is the president that cut off the military resupply during the 2014 Gaza war, and shut down American aviation to Israel for 36 hours while keeping it open to Iran and Iraq, which are more lethal theaters of war. This is the president who publicly announced that Israel should return to the Auschwitz borders of 1967. This is the president who took more aggressive positions against construction in Jewish communities in Jerusalem than even Yasser Arafat did.
This is the president who helped the Muslim Brotherhood come to power in Egypt. This is the president who sought to put the Muslim Brotherhood back into power after the Egyptian military had the good sense to overthrow the fanatics bent on creating a Sharia-compliant tyranny. This is the president who overthrew Muammar Gaddafi and flung Libya into chaos, paving the way for the Islamic State to become a political force there. This is the president whose “red lines” in Syria were repeatedly crossed without consequence, and whose policies there were most aptly described as the zig followed by the zag.
This is the president who once embraced the tyrannical fundamentalist and Iran-embracing president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as his most trusted ally in the region. This is the president who partners with Israel’s virulent enemy Qatar, who has recklessly abandoned America’s traditional partnership with Saudi Arabia, prematurely pulled American troops out of Iraq, and is incapable of finding the means to send enough ammunition and weaponry to the terribly outgunned Kurds, who are bravely fighting off Islamic State.
This is the president who now stands ready to back up Israel, evoking the same concerns General Schwarzkopf had in the first Gulf War.
Obama states his position on Iran is no different than that of the centrist left in the Jewish community. Here he speaks the truth! There has always been an element in the Jewish community that did not see a risk for peace that Israel should not be obliged to take. We all know these people. They are more leftist than Jewish. They inhabit places like the upper middle class suburbs of Chicago’s North Shore. They are all about taking risks but not one of them would have their children ride a subway south of Chicago’s 22nd Street after dark.
Yes, we all know these Jews that stand with Obama. They know how to take risks with the lives of other people’s children.
In the end, the framework agreement Obama seeks with Iran is not just a betrayal of Israel—it is a betrayal of humanity. Ultimately, it is a betrayal of peace.
America has frozen more than $100 billion in Iranian assets. What will happen to these funds when Obama releases them? They will be used to further prop up the butcher of Damascus, Bashar al-Assad. They will provide assistance to the irregular Shiite militias that will come to dominate more and more of Iraq for Iranian. They will provide support for the Houthi Shiites of Yemen to take over the strategic entry way to the Red Sea at Aden. They will provide even more resources than Iran is already providing to Hamas to reconstruct its tunnels into Israel and launch rockets.
With or without Obama’s framework, Iran will become a nuclear power. With the framework, it also becomes an economic regional power, one that is intent on transforming the Middle East through war.
Better an Iranian nuclear power laboring under the regime of sanctions than an Iranian nuclear power that Obama transforms into a regional economic power by lifting sanctions. Those are the issues that the journalistic toady, Thomas Friedman, was incapable of raising.
Abraham H. Miller is an emeritus professor of political science, University of Cincinnati, and a distinguished fellow with the news and public-policy group Haym Salomon Center.