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Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Reactions to Obama's AIPAC speech

We've read it, and our reaction is pretty much "Eh." It was okay. It was fairly pro-Israel, and the same sort of speech that we'd expect before AIPAC. Jennifer Rubin offers her opinion on it:

The entire text of Barack Obama’s address to AIPAC is worth a read. Anytime a presidential candidate confirms our commitment to Israel and expresses any understanding of the historical and religious roots of the state of Israel I am pleased. We should never get so caught up in electoral politics that we fail to appreciate that a bipartisan consensus on the value of the Israeli alliance remains a key component of our national security agenda. That said the speech was, well, odd.

He began with the excuse/warning that bad things were being said about him in emails. But again he did not use the occasion to mend any fences–to explain, for example, that advisors say things he doesn’t believe in, or that he has come to see how hateful and disturbing Rev. Wright’s hate speech is and how it poisoned the well with the Jewish community. The elephant in the room just stomped along.

On several policy points, the most obvious problem to me seems that there is a disconnect, and absence of means to ends, in his vision. He says he loves and will defend Israel but there is no road to get there (i.e. a more peaceful and secure Israel) other than some vague diplomatic avenue. But with whom shall we negotiate? Why will he succeed when others fail? In part, of course, this is because he repudiates means that might pressure opposing forces either diplomatically or militarily. And for those hoping that he might have seen the light on the surge, the answer is “no.” He is still pulling out and seems blissfully unaware what impact it might have on Iran, Hamas and other terrorists — that is, the enemies of Israel.

As for his position on designating the Iranian National Guard as a terrorist organization, we should be clear.
He opposed it last fall, was criticized by Hillary Clinton and Dick Durbin, and now has invented a patently false excuse: that it involved U.S. troops. At the time, his real problem was that it was too confrontational (”Bush saber rattling,” in Obama’s nomenclature). He should be honest if he has changed his mind. It is a good thing, after all, that he now recognizes the Iranian National Guard as a terrorist organization. It does make it that much stranger, though, that he still wants to meet with the Iranian President.

Over at NRO Jim Geraghty weighs in on the speech here and here. From the latter post:


The speech is largely a set of promises to defend Israel - to defend the nation at the United Nations, etc. — which is all fine and dandy, and getting standard-issue applause from the crowd, but not really addressing why pro-Israel Americans are nervous about Obama — i.e., his pledge to meet with Mahmoud, Palestinians in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip organizing phone banks on behalf of Obama, the campaign manager of the candidate says he's "flattered" by the Hamas spokesman's comparison of the candidate to John Kennedy, Hamas praising the candidate...
"Real security can only come when we do all we can to help Israel and its neighbors achieve a lasting peace." Entirely missing from Obama's discussion of this is the number of Palestinians who would rather die that recognize Israeli's right to exist.


"We must isolate Hamas until they recognize Israel's right to exist." ...


"There is no room at the negotiating table for terrorists..." Again, many Americans will not understand why it's then okay to go to the negotiating table with terrorist-supporter Iran. ...


UPDATE: Fairly well in, he addresses Iran. "just as we must be clear about the threat, we must be clear about the failure of today's policy." He says the invasion of Iraq "fanned the flames of extremism in the Middle East." (I don't know, I think "the flames of extremism" burned pretty healthy all the way back to 1979, whether the U.S. was militarily engaged in the region or not.)


This will be the bane of his foreign policy ideas. By stating he won't talk to terrorists, yet continues to say he will meet with Iran, should and will perplex the American electorate. Iran is the leading sponsor of terrorism in the Middle East. We can discuss the Wahabbism exported from Saudi Arabia, but Iran isn't funding their nuts. Iran is funding Islamic Jihad, elements of PA forces, Hamas, Hezbollah, and has even provided support for al Qaeda. So, if he's not willing to talk to terrorists, why in God's name is he willing to sit down and engage in diplomacy with the mullahs that are punching the meal tickets.


This is going to be the criticism he receives over this speech and as Marcie observed this morning this nuanced position won't endear him to Jewish voters that are skittish about his position regarding Iran. We'll give him props for a decent try -- the "old college try, if you will -- but he didn't hit it out of the park. He needed a home run, and all he could muster was a double. Hell, he didn't even drive a run in.

Publius II

1 Comments:

Blogger People Power Granny said...

People Power Granny is already disappointed with Barack Obama's position of promising to not negotiate with Hamas in the Middle East, if he is elected president. Do you think that Hamas should be negotiated with, as former President Carter has done? Vote in my poll at my blog so I know what you think.

June 6, 2008 at 9:37 PM  

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