Some of President Obama’s obvious animosity towards Israel is the result of Israel’s reported spying on the Iran nuclear negotiations. But apparently it wasn’t the spying that irritated the president. It was who the Israelis shared the information with the made President Obama furious:
“It is one thing for the U.S. and Israel to spy on each other. It is another thing for Israel to steal U.S. secrets and play them back to U.S. legislators to undermine U.S. diplomacy,” said a senior U.S. official briefed on the matter.
Let that sink in: the administration is angry not about the spying but that Israel shared the information with the U.S. Congress, elected representatives of the American people—with Congress, whose members have been told almost nothing about a deal that could change the alignment of the Middle East and lead to nuclear weapons in the hands of a terrorist-exporting regime. Congress—whose vote on the agreement the president may seek to avoid by going directly to the U.N., the rogues gallery in Turtle Bay, for approval.
The Wall Street Journal story that breaks the spying news is a fascinating look inside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thinking when he made the decision to deliver a risky address to the U.S. Congress. The prime minister, feeling that the window was closing to prevent a bad deal or at least get a better one with a nation that has vowed to wipe Israel off the face of the earth, realized that there would be repercussions. But he also knew that U.S.-Israeli relations were already strained under President Obama. Things got worse when President Obama initiated secret talks with the Iranians without informing our most stalwart ally in the Middle East.
The rupture with Israel, all in the cause of a nuclear deal that could be fatal to Israel and dangerous to the United States, comes as the administration is humiliated in Yemen, which the president cited as a foreign policy success and from which U.S. Special Forces were over the weekend forced to pull up and skedaddle in disarray.
Israel is not of course the only old ally bewildered by America's re-alignment. Bret Stephens captures the administration’s strange world view in his column this morning in the Wall Street Journal:
There is an upside-down quality to this president’s world view. His administration is now on better terms with Iran—whose Houthi proxies, with the slogan “God is great, death to America, death to Israel, damn the Jews, power to Islam,” just deposed Yemen’s legitimate president—than it is with Israel. He claims we are winning the war against Islamic State even as the group continues to extend its reach into Libya, Yemen and Nigeria.
He treats Republicans in the Senate as an enemy when it comes to the Iranian nuclear negotiations, while treating the Russian foreign ministry as a diplomatic partner. He favors the moral legitimacy of the United Nations Security Council to that of the U.S. Congress. He is facilitating Bashar Assad’s war on his own people by targeting ISIS so the Syrian dictator can train his fire on our ostensible allies in the Free Syrian Army.
He was prepared to embrace a Muslim Brother as president of Egypt but maintains an arm’s-length relationship with his popular pro-American successor. He has no problem keeping company with Al Sharpton and tagging an American police department as comprehensively racist but is nothing if not adamant that the words “Islamic” and “terrorism” must on no account ever be conjoined. The deeper that Russian forces advance into Ukraine, the more they violate cease-fires, the weaker the Kiev government becomes, the more insistent he is that his response to Russia is working.
To adapt George Orwell’s motto for Oceania: Under Mr. Obama, friends are enemies, denial is wisdom, capitulation is victory.
President Obama has been utterly transformative and not just of the United States. He set aside the bipartisan foreign policy of the U.S. that has dominated our dealings in the world since World War II (except under President Jimmy Carter). It is said that 2016 will be a national security election. The question is whether the damage wrought by President Obama can ever be repaired.