Here’s the latest from our junior-varsity President and his team of teenagers, courtesy of Jeffrey Goldberg at The Atlantic:
The other day I was talking to a senior Obama administration official about the foreign leader who seems to frustrate the White House and the State Department the most. ???The thing about Bibi is, he???s a chickens**t,??? this official said, referring to the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, by his nickname.
This comment is representative of the gloves-off manner in which American and Israeli officials now talk about each other behind closed doors, and is yet another sign that relations between the Obama and Netanyahu governments have moved toward a full-blown crisis. The relationship between these two administrations??? dual guarantors of the putatively ???unbreakable??? bond between the U.S. and Israel???is now the worst it’s ever been, and it stands to get significantly worse after the November midterm elections. By next year, the Obama administration may actually withdraw diplomatic cover for Israel at the United Nations, but even before that, both sides are expecting a showdown over Iran, should an agreement be reached about the future of its nuclear program.
(Note: Goldberg did not asterisk out the cuss word in the original transcript, but I think that’s contrary to the editorial policies of this family-friendly web site. If the Obama White House insists on such potty-mouthed behavior, I may be obliged to active my Christmas Story foul-language screening software, which will replace their blue language with harmless words such as “porpoises.”)
Has anyone got some juicy inside quotes of these White House buffoons using language like that to describe the enemies of America, such as the one Barack Obama allowed to flourish in Iraq? What’s extra irritating about this story is that Netanyahu’s “chickens**t” behavior amounts to him doing exactly what Team Obama wanted him to do, or more precisely refrain from doing, with regard to Iranian nuclear weapons. Another official actually used the word “coward” to describe Netanyahu’s alleged unwillingness to launch the pre-emptive strike against Iran that Obama spent years pressuring him to avoid. Once again, Obama shows the world that his government makes for a treacherous ally, but a largely harmless adversary.
The fault for this breakdown in relations can be assigned in good part to the junior partner in the relationship, Netanyahu, and in particular, to the behavior of his cabinet. Netanyahu has told several people I???ve spoken to in recent days that he has ???written off??? the Obama administration, and plans to speak directly to Congress and to the American people should an Iran nuclear deal be reached. For their part, Obama administration officials express, in the words of one official, a ???red-hot anger??? at Netanyahu for pursuing settlement policies on the West Bank, and building policies in Jerusalem, that they believe have fatally undermined Secretary of State John Kerry???s peace process.
Over the years, Obama administration officials have described Netanyahu to me as recalcitrant, myopic, reactionary, obtuse, blustering, pompous, and ???Aspergery.??? (These are verbatim descriptions; I keep a running list.) But I had not previously heard Netanyahu described as a ???chickens**t.??? I thought I appreciated the implication of this description, but it turns out I didn???t have a full understanding. From time to time, current and former administration officials have described Netanyahu as a national leader who acts as though he is mayor of Jerusalem, which is to say, a no-vision small-timer who worries mainly about pleasing the hardest core of his political constituency. (President Obama, in interviews with me, has alluded to Netanyahu???s lack of political courage.)
???The good thing about Netanyahu is that he???s scared to launch wars,??? the official said, expanding the definition of what a chickens**t Israeli prime minister looks like. ???The bad thing about him is that he won???t do anything to reach an accommodation with the Palestinians or with the Sunni Arab states. The only thing he???s interested in is protecting himself from political defeat. He???s not [Yitzhak] Rabin, he???s not [Ariel] Sharon, he???s certainly no [Menachem] Begin. He???s got no guts.???
I ran this notion by another senior official who deals with the Israel file regularly. This official agreed that Netanyahu is a ???chickenshit??? on matters related to the comatose peace process, but added that he???s also a ???coward??? on the issue of Iran???s nuclear threat. The official said the Obama administration no longer believes that Netanyahu would launch a preemptive strike on Iran???s nuclear facilities in order to keep the regime in Tehran from building an atomic arsenal. ???It???s too late for him to do anything. Two, three years ago, this was a possibility. But ultimately he couldn???t bring himself to pull the trigger. It was a combination of our pressure and his own unwillingness to do anything dramatic. Now it???s too late.???
For the record, Benjamin Netanyahu spent years serving in the elite Sayeret Matkal unit of the Israeli Defense Force, and participated in the rescue of a hijacked passenger jet under the command of another future Prime Minister, Ehud Barak. The Obama drones calling him a “coward” are prone to dealing with terrorism by holding up pieces of cardboard with slogans written on them and taking selfies. The people who sat by with slack-jawed expressions of numb shock on their faces while ISIS rampaged through Iraq – and now spend their days looking for someone, anyone, who might be willing to serve as proxy ground troops against the caliphate, because Barack Obama can’t bear the political cost of breaking his “no boots on the ground” promise – are taunting Netanyahu because he’s reluctant to attack Iran. Is there anyone working for this White House who doesn’t belong in a juvenile detention facility?
At least this gang of idiots realized they were about to dynamite one of the last remaining reservoirs of American prestige after six years of Obama “leadership,” because even as they declined to dispute the “chickens**t” stuff, they scrambled to man their political damage-control stations. From the Weekly Standard:
Ali Baskey, a member of the press staff for the NSC, responded to questions about that comment with an official statement. ???Certainly that’s not the Administration’s view, and we think such comments are inappropriate and counter-productive,” Baskey said. “Prime Minister Netanyahu and the President have forged an effective partnership, and consult closely and frequently, including earlier this month when the President hosted the Prime Minister in the Oval Office.” Baskey did not deny that someone within the administration made that comment.
TWS received the statement after asking the Office of the Vice President if the anonymous comments were made by Vice President Joe Biden. Biden spokesperson Kendra Barkoff did not confirm or deny that Biden was the official quoted by Goldberg. A similar request to State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki, asking if Secretary of State John Kerry or any other State Department officials made the “chickens**t” comment, has not been answered, nor has a request to the White House press office.
Is our hard-charging, speak-truth-to-power media going to let these offensive comments remain anonymous? None of the courageous two-fisted action heroes at the White House is going to step forward and take responsibility, huh?
The Atlantic article assigns plenty of blame to Netanyahu and his government for creating a tense relationship with the Obama Administration. But how does anyone justify the kind of petty B.S. the Administration is still pulling, because of hurt feelings from year-old slights? CNN reports on the White House snubbing Israel’s defense minister, Moshe Ya’alon, when he flew to Washington last week:
The White House denied him meetings with Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry and National Security Adviser Susan Rice. Senior administration officials attributed the snub to numerous negative comments Ya’alon made earlier this year criticizing the administration in general and Kerry in particular.
“It shouldn’t have been a surprise given some of his comments,” a senior administration official said about Ya’alon’s visit. “We give you $1.3 billion of aid and you are dumping on us. None of our friends have been disrespectful to the extent of Israel.”
Is that right? I don’t know, your friend Vladimir Putin seemed pretty “disrespectful” to me. Your friends in the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood were a bit rude, too. What was Moshe Ya’alon’s great offense? He referred to Secretary of State John Kerry as “obsessive and messianic” over a potential peace deal between the Israelis and the folks who were showering them with rockets, hiding behind human shields, and popping out of terror tunnels not long ago. He hoped Kerry “gets a Nobel Prize and leaves us alone.”
Although CNN doesn’t mention it, Ya’alon also worried that the United States was demonstrating weakness in the face of aggression: “If you sit and wait at home, the terrorism will come again. Even if you hunker down, it will come. This is a war of civilizations. If your image is feebleness, it doesn???t pay in the world. Nobody will replace the United States as global policeman. I hope the United States comes to its senses. If it doesn???t, it will challenge the world order, and the United States is the one that will suffer.”
Gee, that sounds a bit like what the White House crew has saying about Netanyahu. Ya’alon apologized for giving offense and Netanyahu chastised him in public, but the Obama Administration is still nursing such a sore posterior over the insult to John Kerry that snubs the Israeli Defense Minister during visits to Washington? What “leadership.” Couldn’t you guys just write a few nasty comments on Netanyahu’s Facebook page and get it out of your systems?
Leaving colorful language, personal pettiness, and the appalling attitude Obama has fostered among his subordinates aside – believe me, his teenage staffers wouldn’t be using this language if they didn’t hear Daddy talking that way – the core idiocy here is the belief that all of the Middle East’s problems can be solved if the Israelis would just give the Palestinians everything they want. To this mindset, the big problem with the Middle East is that it still contains too many stubborn Jews. I suspect many Obama Administration officials don’t truly believe that; what they do believe is that a “peace in our time” photo op of the Obama Administration brokering a big Israeli-Palestinian deal would be politically valuable. Who cares what happens in Gaza or Jerusalem later, if they get that trophy?
Another striking thing about this glimpse into the White House Romper Room is that it always takes these people by surprise when other world leaders prioritize the interests of their own people. Both allies and adversaries consistently stun Obama and his team by doing that, leaving them to blubber helplessly about the “wrong side of history” and the tragic reluctance of other nations to hamstring their economies in tribute to the Church of Global Warming. In the case of Benjamin Netanyahu and his relationships with the Iranians and Palestinians, it’s especially odd to see Obama’s advisers so confused, because Netanyahu makes no secret of where he stands. Remember when he came to the United Nations with that crazy diagram of a “Stratego” sputtering bomb to illustrate the point of no return for thwarting Iran’s nuclear ambitions? That was over two years ago… during a re-election campaign in which Barack Obama said there was no reason for Israel to worry, because there was no way Iran would get The Bomb on Obama’s watch.
Would the Obama White House seriously take the kind of risks they routinely expect of Israel, ignoring everything from rocket barrages flying over the border, and cars plowing into crowds of civilians in a city that’s partially off-limits to its own citizens, to the next-door neighbors musing about how lovely mushroom clouds would look over their population centers? That’s not a rhetorical question, really. I honestly don’t know what some of Obama’s people would do, if rockets launched from Mexico were raining down on El Paso. I could see them going on television and urging Texans to understand why the rocket launchers were so angry at them.
It’s not necessary to agree 100 percent with allied nations, or their individual leaders, to respect them and nourish a healthy relationship. It’s not easy to do that, mind you. There are stresses and tensions. American leaders are occasionally forced to admit they have a conflict of interest with the governments of Israel, or Canada, or the United Kingdom. The thing is, Barack Obama persuaded American voters he was up to that challenge, and he clearly isn’t. He’s surrounded himself with people who reflect his shortcomings, which is not surprising. They ended up congratulating themselves for pushing Benjamin Netanyahu to avoid pre-emptive action against Iranian nukes… and then calling him a “coward” for allowing himself to be pushed. One can only hope the nuclear mullahs of Tehran don’t write the final act of this farce.
Update: Netanyahu has directly responded to the “chickens**t” comment from the incredibly courageous ultra-brave tough-as-nails anonymous Obama official, as reported by Bloomberg News:
???I risked my life for my country, and I am not willing to make concessions that will endanger our country,??? Netanyahu, a former commando, said at a memorial ceremony in parliament for a cabinet minister assassinated by a Palestinian.
???Our paramount interests, first and foremost security and the unity of Jerusalem, are not of vital importance to those same anonymous sources who attack us and me, personally,??? he said. ???I am being attacked personally only because I am defending the state of Israel.???
The article goes on to note that Netanyahu’s domestic political opponents aren’t happy with how he’s handled Israel’s relationship with the Obama Administration, which is not surprising. Others are urging both Netanyahu and Obama to do whatever it takes to patch things up, pronto:
Israeli Finance Minister Yair Lapid warned of a ???crisis??? in relations between the countries on Oct. 25, after Israeli media reported that Ya???alon was denied access to senior American officials during a visit to the U.S., including Kerry and Vice President Joe Biden. The withholding of access was meant to signal displeasure with Ya???alon???s criticism of U.S. policy, the Ynet website reported.
In a text message today, Lapid urged the Israeli and U.S. governments to ???tackle the crisis behind the scenes because the relations between the two countries are of strategic importance.???
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, who opposes Palestinian statehood, said three things should guide his country???s foreign policy: ???The first is ties with the United States. The second is ties with the United States. The third, and no less important, is ties with the United States,??? he told Army Radio.
Which puts a certain degree of responsibility on the United States to set the tone of that relationship, doesn’t it?