Day of Infamy for Democrats

 

The most significant event that happened today may not be Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress, but the response from Democrats — or non-response. Watching how many now join with Republicans to ask the Obama Administration to rethink its negotiations with Iran will tell us a lot about the party’s state of mind — not just about Israel, but about America in the world today.

The signs aren’t hopeful. The last count before the speech was that some 55 Democratic members of Congress had decided to boycott the event. Some were the usual progressive suspects, like Elizabeth Warren and Al Franken. Some who had announced they would boycott the speech decided at the last minute they wouldn’t, like New York’s Charlie Rangel and Florida’s Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Her non-attendance would have presented the truly bizarre spectacle of a Jewish Democrat speaking at AIPAC one day, then skipping, in protest, a speech by Israel’s prime minister the next.

Those Democrats who did boycott clearly chose loyalty to this administration and its outlook over the traditions of US foreign policy founded by Democrats themselves after World War II — they also chose that loyalty over moral sense.

The subtext of Bibi’s speech wasn’t just the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran to Israel, and to the region as a whole — a threat the Obama Administration seems increasingly insistent on ignoring (with the offer, for example, to put a 10-year expiration date on Iran’s promise to avoid weapons-grade enrichment). It was also about what moral choices the United States wants to make in its stance towards the world.  Are we on the side of dictators and authoritarians, or democracies and free societies? The haters or the hated? Those who lie or those who tell the truth?

Without a doubt, the Obama Administration has made it clear that those distinctions don’t matter. It’s been working relentlessly to cultivate its new autocratic ally in the Middle East, one with a consistently appalling human rights record and long hostility to the United States and its interests. That alliance can only come at the expense of — possibly even the existence of — our traditional democratic ally, Israel, a country that Secretary of State John Kerry has described as an “apartheid state” and presidential wannabe Hillary Clinton denounced for its “brutal occupation” of the West Bank, while keeping a stony silence as Hamas rockets rained down on it.

It’s just the latest example of a foreign policy outlook engrained in the Democrat Party ever since Vietnam: that it’s America’s enemies that we need to reach out to and appease, not friends and allies who’ve been our partners in sustaining the world system for 70 years. And if the price of an uncertain deal with a dictator is the certain betrayal of our own principles, so be it.

As my recent review of diplomat Chris Hill’s memoirs shows, America’s dealings with North Korea on the nuclear issue are the classic example of this mentality (and, in the North Korea case, unfortunately, it was not one limited to Democrats). There was also Syria and Bashar al-Assad (who can forget Hillary Clinton categorizing that pencil-necked  brute as a “reformer” or Nancy Pelosi paying him court in her head scarf?) and the Administration’s outreach to the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. We even see it with this administration’s serial failure to confront ISIS, choosing instead to get Iran involved in the delusional hope that we can get the mullahs to achieve our objectives in Iraq when we’re only facilitating theirs.

‘Facilitate’ is the key word (Bret Stephens used it in his column today). The Obama Administration and its Democratic Party minions have become this generation’s facilitators of evil, as Western politicians were in the Thirties.

The late Alan Taylor perfectly summed up the self-destructive outlook of that generation of appeasers who, like Obama with Iran, still hoped for a deal with Hitler, Stalin, and Mussolini even as German tanks were pouring into Poland.

By “pretending to treat the Fascist dictators as gentlemen,” Taylor wrote, “they ceased to be gentlemen themselves.”

Having once committed themselves to the non-existent good faith of the dictators, [they] grew indignant in their turn when others continued to doubt [that good faith]….The statesmen of Western Europe moved in a moral and intellectual fog—sometimes deceived by the dictators, sometimes deceiving themselves, often deceiving their own public.  [In the end] they came to believe that an unscrupulous diplomacy was the only resource.

That fog has now descended on Obama and the Democratic Party, including my own senator, Tim Kaine. I’d like to think Bibi’s powerful speech will help to cut through that fog. But I doubt it.

 

There are 34 comments.

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  1. Steve C. Member
    Steve C.
    @user_531302

    Rather than citing Churchill’s description of his generation’s appeasers and the appetite of alligators….

    What we face is a group of elites who see no use for the threat, or employment, of raw power.

    With appeasement, there’s always another deal that can be cut. If your negotiating strategy ends in a threat of force, you have to be prepared to carry it through. As Sam Spade says in The Maltese Falcon, torture is no good unless there is a threat of death behind it.

    I will grant this is a very complex problem. Drawing the appropriate “red line” (here and no further) is part of the diplomatic art. But then, that’s what we pay them for.

    The only advice in can offer the President is, if the person you are negotiating knows you are anxious to make a deal, you won’t get a very good deal.

    • #1
  2. user_82762 Inactive
    user_82762
    @JamesGawron

    Art,

    Beautifully said Art. I really can’t add much to your post. I thought Netanyahu’s speech was well crafted, well delivered, and well received. Rice and Power made barely a chirp at AIPAC.

    It is interesting that the Iraqis didn’t wait for the White House to give them the OK to attack ISIS. We are going to be seeing plenty of that. Everyone realizes that there is nothing to wait for. There is no one presently at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. who would make the right decision. He didn’t really make the decision to go after Bin Laden.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #2
  3. user_645 Editor
    user_645
    @Claire

    I’m not understanding Bibi’s thinking, though. It’s not my job to be an Israeli politician, but I don’t really understand why he didn’t wait until after the election. It would have spared him the accusations of electioneering in the US Congress (in Israel and the US), it would have avoided the charge of violating the US protocol of not receiving foreign leaders before an election, and if he won–and he probably will– he would have been able to say that he stood before Congress with a mandate from his country.

    I don’t get the politics of it: Wouldn’t it make more sense to wait, given his real goal? His goal is to stop Iran. It seems as if waiting until after the election to give the speech would have put him on much stronger ground.

    What do you make of that?

    • #3
  4. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @Manny

    You’re right on with this post.  What it shows you is just how far to the left this Dem Party has drifted.  I would say it started in 2000 when Al Gore decided to run as a Liberal and actually got more votes that Bush.  It’s astounding where this country has gone.

    • #4
  5. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    Claire Berlinski: It’s not my job to be an Israeli politician, but I don’t really understand why he didn’t wait until after the election.

    This is not about optics, Claire. This is about national survival. Why didn’t Mr. Obama stop his campaign aide, Jeremy Bird from working with the opposition party in Israel? Why is the State Department giving grants to organizations like OneVoice which is actively campaigning against Netanyahu?

    • #5
  6. Quinn the Eskimo Member
    Quinn the Eskimo
    @

    Claire Berlinski:I’m not understanding Bibi’s thinking, though. It’s not my job to be an Israeli politician, but I don’t really understand why he didn’t wait until after the election. It would have spared him the accusations of electioneering in the US Congress (in Israel and the US), it would have avoided the charge of violating the US protocol of not receiving foreign leaders before an election, and if he won–and he probably will– he would have been able to say that he stood before Congress with a mandate from his country.

    I don’t get the politics of it: Wouldn’t it make more sense to wait, given his real goal? His goal is to stop Iran. It seems as if waiting until after the election to give the speech would have put him on much stronger ground.

    What do you make of that?

    What if he thinks he is running out of time on an Iran deal?  Supposing that Iran and the U.S. reach an agreement, the horse has left the barn.

    • #6
  7. Ricochet Inactive
    Ricochet
    @GilReich

    Claire Berlinski:I’m not understanding Bibi’s thinking, though. It’s not my job to be an Israeli politician, but I don’t really understand why he didn’t wait until after the election. It would have spared him the accusations of electioneering in the US Congress (in Israel and the US), it would have avoided the charge of violating the US protocol of not receiving foreign leaders before an election, and if he won–and he probably will– he would have been able to say that he stood before Congress with a mandate from his country.

    I don’t get the politics of it: Wouldn’t it make more sense to wait, given his real goal? His goal is to stop Iran. It seems as if waiting until after the election to give the speech would have put him on much stronger ground.

    What do you make of that?

    My thoughts:

    1) Last time, Bibi didn’t finish forming his government until about 7 weeks after the election. Would likely be about the same this time. So it’s not waiting 2 weeks, it’s waiting 9.

    2) His mandate after the election is expected to be pretty weak (again).

    3) He was able to combine this with his AIPAC speech, which served as a good lead-in to this.

    4) Part of this really was political.

    5) When he first scheduled the speech he wasn’t expecting the admin’s response. And once they responded like that, it would have been political suicide for him to back down.

    6) The president & progressives would have just as easily found some other reason to object, claim offense, and manufacture a crisis.

    BTW Arthur, great piece.

    • #7
  8. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @GrannyDude

    A possibly stupid question:

    Given that we attacked Saddam’s Iraq on the grounds that he was a Hitleresque dictator and anything short of invasion counted as “appeasement”… and then ended up with more than a decade (and counting) of a war that, if anything, appears to have made things worse for us and downright miserable for the Iraqi people… how is Obama supposed to convince the Iranians that the American public is up for another strenuous experiment in raw power?

    Another possibly stupid question: Isn’t comparing these people to Hitler and Stalin giving them too much credit? Why do we seem to be more frightened of Islamic loonies than we ever were of the Nazis? At the end of WW2 the U.S., Great Britain, France and Russian (whose leader we were indeed pretending was a “gentleman” pro tem)  collectively had the will , the stones and the moral courage to keep no less a war criminal than Goering in humane captivity and give him a fair trial despite real concern that fanatical loyalists might try to rescue him, or set off a bomb in the courtroom…

    Seventy years later, we’re too chicken to let some pathetic, low-level terrorist already broken after ten years at Gitmo place his radioactive foot on American soil. And we’re supposed to persuade the mad mullahs that we’re tough?

    • #8
  9. user_82762 Inactive
    user_82762
    @JamesGawron

    Claire Berlinski:I’m not understanding Bibi’s thinking, though. It’s not my job to be an Israeli politician, but I don’t really understand why he didn’t wait until after the election. It would have spared him the accusations of electioneering in the US Congress (in Israel and the US), it would have avoided the charge of violating the US protocol of not receiving foreign leaders before an election, and if he won–and he probably will– he would have been able to say that he stood before Congress with a mandate from his country.

    I don’t get the politics of it: Wouldn’t it make more sense to wait, given his real goal? His goal is to stop Iran. It seems as if waiting until after the election to give the speech would have put him on much stronger ground.

    What do you make of that?

    Claire,

    Sometimes Gd is pulling the strings. If I had been advising him I wouldn’t have suggested it. However, it is working out great. Whether you are fully aware of it or not Israeli elections have been subject to manipulation by the American left for years. I know this directly from major sources of it in this country.

    Because of all the conflict the Israeli public is very conscious and up in arms. They won’t stand for interference this time around. I think Bibi’s performance was stellar and I don’t think the U.S.-Israel relationship was damaged but rather enhanced. Even Rice and Power were enjoying their time at AIPAC in spite of it.

    Got to go with the flow here. Gd is calling the shots.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #9
  10. Sandy Member
    Sandy
    @Sandy

    Claire Berlinski:I’m not understanding Bibi’s thinking, though. It’s not my job to be an Israeli politician, but I don’t really understand why he didn’t wait until after the election. It would have spared him the accusations of electioneering in the US Congress (in Israel and the US), it would have avoided the charge of violating the US protocol of not receiving foreign leaders before an election, and if he won–and he probably will– he would have been able to say that he stood before Congress with a mandate from his country.

    I don’t get the politics of it: Wouldn’t it make more sense to wait, given his real goal? His goal is to stop Iran. It seems as if waiting until after the election to give the speech would have put him on much stronger ground.

    What do you make of that?

    Good question.  Maybe he knows something about the negotiations that we don’t know?  On the other hand, I don’t think the electioneering argument means much in the US, and, too, there is the risk that he will not be reelected.  Under that circumstance, would his successor have been able to give such a speech or have had the standing to do so?  I don’t know, but I think you could argue that only Netanyahu, with his American background, and with the familiarity Americans have with him,  could have made the impression he did.

    • #10
  11. Walker Inactive
    Walker
    @Walker

    Claire,
    Perhaps Bibi feared that the US-Iranian negotiations were moving too quickly, and waiting would have resulted in a fait accompli. As it is, we are within days of a deal. Hopefully, Bibi’s speech will fortify our weak-kneed Congress to stop this US “accomodation” from taking hold.

    • #11
  12. Marion Evans Inactive
    Marion Evans
    @MarionEvans

    Woo what a crime that a group of elected officials should think for themselves instead of mechanically toe the party line. I am more distressed that only a lone Republican joined the walkout (Rep. Walter Jones, NC).

    Not to say I favor the walkout. I don’t. I favor non-monolithic policy-making. Disagreement is healthy. On any issue.

    • #12
  13. Ricochet Moderator
    Ricochet
    @OldBathos

    Claire Berlinski:I’m not understanding Bibi’s thinking, though. It’s not my job to be an Israeli politician, but I don’t really understand why he didn’t wait until after the election.

    His timing is most probably driven by pace of the Obama-Kerry surrender project.  It is not clear what terms, agreements, concessions are being put in place but it is certain that the “negotiations” are not going the right way.  Waiting a few weeks might be too late to influence the process.

    Also, I think he wants to goad Congress into a proactive stance, especially since our Constitution-loathing President has no intention of making this capitulation a treaty subject to a Senate vote.

    • #13
  14. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    See this post.

    • #14
  15. Israel P. Inactive
    Israel P.
    @IsraelP

    Claire, he could not absent himself from Israel during the weeks following the election. That’s when the coalition is put together.

    • #15
  16. Israel P. Inactive
    Israel P.
    @IsraelP

    Pelosi acted disgracefully. Surely all those bipartisan we-love-Israel Democrats will call for her resignation.   That’s what would happen if it were  Republican leader.

    • #16
  17. EThompson Inactive
    EThompson
    @EThompson

    One of the most remarkable characteristics of liberals, particularly the highly educated, is the complete dismissal of historical precedence. Why is there a refusal to acknowledge an irrefutable law of nature- that a power vacuum shall always exist in the world and it is a matter of who shall fill it not if it will be filled?

    • #17
  18. user_977556 Member
    user_977556
    @TheodoricofFreiberg

    Very well said, sir!

    Arthur Herman: That fog has now descended on Obama and the Democratic Party, including my own senator, Tim Kaine.

    I only have one bone to pick with your assessment. The fog has not just now descended. It’s been there since the 60s.

    • #18
  19. user_977556 Member
    user_977556
    @TheodoricofFreiberg

    Kate Braestrup:Given that we attacked Saddam’s Iraq on the grounds that he was a Hitleresque dictator and anything short of invasion counted as “appeasement”… and then ended up with more than a decade (and counting) of a war that, if anything, appears to have made things worse for us and downright miserable for the Iraqi people… how is Obama supposed to convince the Iranians that the American public is up for another strenuous experiment in raw power?

    Excellent question. However raw power is probably the only way to keep them from obtaining The Bomb. Once they get it, I’m sure the American public will be more than willing to use force when they see the actual consequences. Trouble is, by that time it will probably be too late.

    Also, I’d say the main reason things are worse for us and the Iraqi people is that Obama pulled us out of Iraq. We didn’t need thousands of troops to remain. But we needed enough to deter the terrorists.

    Another possibly stupid question: Isn’t comparing these people to Hitler and Stalin giving them too much credit?

    Maybe. But those two didn’t have nukes or ICBMs did they.

    • #19
  20. user_385039 Inactive
    user_385039
    @donaldtodd

    Kate Braestrup: #8 Given that we attacked Saddam’s Iraq on the grounds that he was a Hitleresque dictator and anything short of invasion counted as “appeasement”…

    If Barry has told us anything and done so repeatedly it is that he does not really want to project American power abroad.  He is not Bush 41, or Bush 43, or Reagan, or Kennedy, or LBJ.

    “Isn’t comparing these people to Hitler and Stalin giving them too much credit?”

    If “these people” manage to get a nuke or two they seem to have no problem with the idea of killing people, and they do revel in big numbers.  Kind of like Hitler and Stalin racked up big numbers.  In fact one might suggest that setting off a nuke in the right place would be a recruiting post for some of these people.

    At least for some of these people there is the hope that they can precipitate the arrival of the 12th imam, who is the savior of the world in that theology.  The 12th imam is supposed bring peace and justice to the world.

    • #20
  21. Asquared Inactive
    Asquared
    @ASquared

    Claire Berlinski:I don’t get the politics of it: Wouldn’t it make more sense to wait, given his real goal? His goal is to stop Iran. It seems as if waiting until after the election to give the speech would have put him on much stronger ground.

    What do you make of that?

    I am admittedly a skeptic, but I see very little evidence that Obama wants to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. What Obama seems to want is to push back the development of Iran’s nuclear weapon until he is out of office and can no longer be blamed.

    The problem is, the deal is going to be signed this month, a deal that based on news reports, is going to give Iran a clear path to a nuclear weapon in a decade (assuming they follow the rules) and the money to fund the program (even if they don’t follow the rules).

    A month from now will be too late to influence the deal.

    • #21
  22. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    EThompson:One of the most remarkable characteristics of liberals, particularly the highly educated, is the complete dismissal of historical precedence. Why is there a refusal to acknowledge an irrefutable law of nature- that a power vacuum shall always exist in the world and it is a matter of who shall fill it not if it will be filled?

    Wow.

    Beautifully said.

    Very true.

    • #22
  23. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @GrannyDude

    Donald and Theodore: I don’t know, guys. I’m not an expert on these things, but it seems to me that region of the world has deeply rooted, complex, nasty problems that go back decades (if not centuries) and none of the presidents in your list seem to me to have provided anything but—at best—temporary solutions. This is not to disparage any of them: I just can’t think of an unqualified success in their records.

    Historical precedent? Reagan ignominiously withdrew our forces after  the 1983 Beruit barracks bombing—hardly a very successful example of a projection of power. Bush 41’s Desert Storm would have been more impressive had it not been necessary, at least in his son’s eyes,  to re-invade Iraq after a decade of containment and intermittent bombing, while Kennedy and LBJ can, at best, be said to have done  little in the Middle East perhaps because they were preoccupied with Vietnam.

    Bush 43 had two big advantages when he started his wars: The most recent big adventure, Desert Storm, had been a swift, if arguably incomplete, success, and 9/11 really pissed us off. That combination of confidence and combativeness would be difficult to arouse in us today. Even then, he had to promise a swift and absolute victory (remember Rumsfeld saying we’d be done within a few months?) that, needless to say, did not pan out.

    Don’t get me wrong: I am not a pacifist, and I think it would be splendid if the United States could conduct negotiations backed by a credible threat of force. But to be credible, the president would have to have the assent or even, ideally, the enthusiasm for war of the American people, and I fear we’ve lost faith in the efficacy of forceful intervention.  Maybe it’s Obama’s fault. Maybe by this time, McCain, or Romney would have been able to turn Iraq into a happy, peaceful democracy and, encouraged by this success and completely recovered from war weariness, we’d all be itching to sign up our sons for the cakewalk to Tehran.

    I’m more inclined to think that, no matter who the president happens to be now, or for the foreseeable future,  dealing with the middle east is going to go on being a long, tiresome game of whack-a-mole and one that’s much easier (and more fun) to critique from the sidelines than to actually play.

    • #23
  24. user_199279 Coolidge
    user_199279
    @ChrisCampion

    Bibi’s election is not going to matter much if there’s a radioactive crater where Tel Aviv used to be.

    Bibi was trying to rally the West, to share common cause.  Historically, when people say they are trying to kill you, evidence has shown that you should take those threats seriously.  The West, the US and Israel in particular, have not been on the “friends” list with Iran for decades.  They have openly pursued nuclear weapons.  They have openly stated they wish to destroy Israel.

    What leaves me sad, though, is how little we seem to care, but worse than that, there is a large political contingent that actively blames the one Western democracy in the Middle East for Iran and other nations’ desire to destroy the one Western democracy.  And we have idiots for “leadership”, and elected officials who actively snub the leader of another democracy, while not too long ago, a couple of those snubbers (Sen. Patrick Leahy, for example), traveled to a dictator’s island to make nice and secure conjugal visits for a Cuban spy.

    We elect these people.  It’s our fault.  Our decline is our fault.  I’d hate to think that there is only one remaining question for the West:  Do we go out, standing up, and fighting; or do we go out, on our knees, after choosing to capitulate.

    I know why Barry sent Churchill’s bust back to London.  He knew we didn’t deserve him in the White House anymore after electing a craven child as our president.

    • #24
  25. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    I think Obama will be putting the statue of Moses with the statue of Churchill in the back of the closet tomorrow.

    • #25
  26. user_129440 Member
    user_129440
    @JackRichman

    Claire Berlinski:I don’t get the politics of it: Wouldn’t it make more sense to wait, given his real goal? His goal is to stop Iran. It seems as if waiting until after the election to give the speech would have put him on much stronger ground.

    What do you make of that?

    Netanyahu is just dancing with the one who brung him. Boehner asked that Bibi not clear his acceptance with Obama before going public because he didn’t want White House interference. Bibi did so because he welcomed the opportunity to address Congress in the hope of raising the cost to Obama of letting Iran continue in its nuclear ambitions and because he wanted to reassure the Israeli electorate that much of Congress and the American public support his tougher stand.

    • #26
  27. user_891102 Member
    user_891102
    @DannyAlexander

    Claire, to echo what James Gawron observed earlier in the thread, the timing was also hugely propitious for Bibi (and us) given the time-of-the-Jewish-year historical resonance.

    To wit:

    http://www.vbm-torah.org/purim/silent.htm

    • #27
  28. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @EustaceCScrubb

    I’m sure that it’s unduly cynical to think that those Democrats who didn’t show for Bibi would have shown for an Iranian official speaking. So that makes me unduly cynical.

    • #28
  29. Umbra Fractus Inactive
    Umbra Fractus
    @UmbraFractus

    Marion Evans:Woo what a crime that a group of elected officials should think for themselves instead of mechanically toe the party line. I am more distressed that only a lone Republican joined the walkout (Rep. Walter Jones, NC).

    Not to say I favor the walkout. I don’t. I favor non-monolithic policy-making. Disagreement is healthy. On any issue.

    I’m sure there are some people who would prefer to crown the President King Barack I of the Socialist States of America. Are we to admire their free thinking?

    • #29
  30. user_385039 Inactive
    user_385039
    @donaldtodd

    Kate Braestrup: #23 “Donald and Theodore: I don’t know, guys. I’m not an expert on these things, but it seems to me that region of the world has deeply rooted, complex, nasty problems that go back decades (if not centuries) and none of the presidents in your list seem to me to have provided anything but—at best—temporary solutions.”

    Not all of the presidents on my list did anything in the middle east but all of them were willing to pick up the cudgel and use it.

    The current office holder is quite leery about using the cudgel, although to be fair, he’d rather kill the enemy than capture some and get some intelligence about what they are doing.  So he is leery and stupid.

    • #30
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