US President Barack Obama views lies as legitimate political tools. He uses lies strategically to accomplish through mendacity what he could never achieve through honest means. Obama lies in both domestic and foreign policy.
On the domestic front, despite Obama’s repeated promises that Obamacare would not threaten anyone’s existing health insurance policies, over the past two weeks, millions Americans have received notices from their health insurance companies that their policies have been canceled because they don’t abide by Obamacare’s requirements.
The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board explained that Obama’s repetition of this lie was not an oversight. It was a deliberate means of lulling into complacency these Americans who opted to buy their insurance themselves on the open market, in order to stick them with the burden of underwriting Obamacare.
In the editorialist’s words, “The [healthcare] exchanges need these customers [whose private policies are being canceled] to finance Obamacare’s balance sheet and stabilize its risk pools. On the exchanges, individuals earning more than $46,000 or a family of four above $94,000 don’t qualify for subsidies and must buy overpriced insurance. If these middle-class Obamacare losers can be forced into the exchanges, they become financiers of the new pay-as-you-go entitlement.”
Sure there is an outcry now about Obama’s dishonesty and the way he has used lying to take away from an unwilling public a right it would never have knowingly surrendered, but it is too late. There is no chance of revoking the law until at 2017, when Obama leaves office. And by then, everyone will have been forced to accept what they consider unacceptable or be fined and lose all health coverage.
Obama’s mendacity is not limited to domestic policy. It operates in foreign affairs as well. Several commentators this week recalled Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez’s angry response to the Obama administration’s attempt to block Senate passage of sanctions against Iran in December 2011. Expressing disgust at the administration’s bad faith to the Senate, Menendez noted that before the White House tried to defeat the legislation, it first forced senators to water it down, making them believe that the White House would support a weaker bill. In the end, despite the White House’s opposition, the Senate and House passed the watered-down sanctions bills with veto-proof majorities. Obama reluctantly signed the bill into law and then bragged about having passed “crippling sanctions” on Iran.
As was the case with Obamacare, the White House knows that most Americans won’t support its policy of doing nothing to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. So the White House never says that this is its policy. Obama and his advisers insist that preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear power is a central goal of the administration. But their actions move US policy in the opposite direction. And if they get caught on the lies after Iran gets the bomb, well, Obama won’t be facing reelection, so he will pay no price for his duplicity.
The mendacity at the heart of Obama’s political playbook is something that Israel needs to understand if it to survive his presidency without major damage to its strategic viability. The events of the past week make clear that the stakes in understanding and exposing his game couldn’t be higher.
Three major developments occurred this week.
On Sunday, PLO officials leaked to the media a position paper that Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat presented to Justice Minister Tzipi Livni outlining the PLO’s position on a finalpeace settlement. In a nutshell, the paper requires Israel to destroy itself demographically, democratically, militarily, legally and politically and that it relinquish its water supply. Six months after it does all these things, the Palestinians will agree to sign a peace treaty with it.
The Palestinian document claims not only all of Judea and Samaria, (except for 1.9 percent of the territory that Israel can keep in exchange for money and more land within sovereign Israel), and eastern, northern and southern Jerusalem. It demands the northern Negev, the Hula Valley, Latrun and the Elah Valley. And it demands them all free of all Jewish presence.
They demand that Israel relinquish its rights under international law to Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem by agreeing that they are “occupied.”
They demand full control over the airspace over Judea, Samaria, Gaza and Jerusalem, and over the waters off the Gaza coast. They demand an end of air force overflights of those areas.
They demand control over all the underground aquifiers, and over the electromagnetic spectrum.
Moreover, the Palestinians are demanding that Israel allow 5 million foreign-born Arabs the right to freely immigrate to its remaining territory.
They refuse to accept Israel’s right to exist and claim they have sovereign rights over all of Israel.
The Palestinian document reveals that there is no chance whatsoever that the current negotiations will lead to peace. PLO chief Mahmoud Abbas and his cronies don’t want peace. They want to destroy Israel.
And yet, to demonstrate Israel’s good faith with the cause of peace, and genuine devotion to the goal of appeasing Abbas, on Sunday the cabinet approved the release of another 26 Palestinian murderers from its jails. On Tuesday night, Abbas threw them a party in Ramallah and pledged that he would force Israel to release all Palestinian terrorists from its prisons.
Then there is Iran. Just as it did in 2011, before the US Senate and House passed veto-proof sanctions bills, the administration is aggressively fighting to block lawmakers from passing new sanctions against Iran. To this end, Obama’s national security advisers summoned American Jewish leaders to the White House to demand that they stop speaking in favor of intensified sanctions.
Also this week, US Secretary of State John Kerry took a swipe at Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for daring to question the administration’s total commitment to negotiating with Iran. Kerry indignantly insisted, “We will not succumb to fear tactics” against holding talks with Iran.
The same day that Kerry decried Israel for supposedly sowing fear unnecessarily about the status of Iran’s nuclear weapons program, Olli Heinonen, the former deputy head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said that the Iranians may have already passed the breakout phase and have the capacity to build an atomic weapons within two weeks.
But in accordance with the Obama administration’s wishes, Democrats in the Senate are now suggesting a four-month pause in sanctions deliberations to give Obama a chance to reach a deal.
Rather than post the Palestinians’ position paper on his Facebook page and instruct Israeli diplomats worldwide to publicize it as proof of the Palestinians’ continued commitment to Israel’s destruction and bad faith at the negotiating table, Netanyahu remained mum on its leaked contents. Netanyahu didn’t use the paper or Abbas’s open support for recent terror attacks, and leadership of the global movement, to destroy Israel’s economy through trade wars and commercial boycotts, as ample justification for keeping the Palestinian murderers in prison.
Instead, he and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon insisted that they had to be released. Israel’s “strategic interests” would be adversely affected, they said, if the government kept them behind bars.
Since Obama first entered the White House, Netanyahu and his colleagues have used the term “strategic interests” as a euphemism for American pressure. By using the term in the context of the freeing of murderers, Netanyahu and Ya’alon made clear that the US has blackmailed Israel into keeping up concessions to the PLO despite the fact that the concessions demoralize the country, destabilize the government, embolden terrorists determined to murder still more Jews, and encourage Abbas to escalate his support for terrorism and his diplomatic war against Israel.
The question is, what are Obama and his colleagues threatening to do to us? What is the “or else” that follows the American demand for Israel to capitulate to Palestinian demands? The media claim that Netanyahu continues with the phony peace talks because he doesn’t want to be blamed when they fail in April. But even if Netanyahu were to break with his party and form a new government with Livni and the Labor Party, the Arabs and Meretz, and offered Abbas Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem, and some symbolic right of immigration for a few foreign Arabs to the rump Jewish state, Abbas would reject his offer, just as he rejected Ehud Olmert’s offer and just as Arafat rejected Ehud Barak’s offer.
And just as Obama has blamed Israel for Palestinian intransigence and radicalism for the past five-and-a-half years, so he will blame Israel for the failure of the current talks. So as unpleasant as it will be to be blamed, the best thing Israel can do is expose Palestinian bad faith to minimize the price it will pay when it is blamed.
The thing is, Netanyahu must know that Obama will blame Israel no matter what the Palestinians say or do. So perhaps the “strategic interests” he is threatening are more strategic than simply blaming Israel for scuttling phony peace talks. Maybe Obama is telling Netanyahu that if he fails to keep faith with the fake talks, Obama will tip Iran off to an impending Israeli strike on its nuclear facilities.
Here, too, Obama has a track record. According to former national security adviser Giora Eiland, Netanyahu was poised to attack Iran’s nuclear installations in the fall of 2012, but Obama pressured him into standing down. It is hard to believe that Obama’s was a soft sell.
Then there is the issue of military sales. Government officials have whispered periodically that Obama is threatening to curtail weapons sales to Israel. Such a move could quickly paralyze the air force.
There is an argument to be made for keeping silent on the nature of Obama’s blackmail.
Exposing it would also expose the growing fissure between the US and Israel, and much of Israel’s deterrent posture is based on a widespread assessment that Israel’s strategic alliance with the US is unbreakable. But then again, Obama’s weakening of the US alliance with Israel – and with Saudi Arabia and Egypt – is well-known. The damage has already been done.
Given this, the argument for exposing the nature of Obama’s threats becomes more compelling by the day. Congress still plays a supervisory role in foreign policy. And the American public supports Israel deeply. There is a strong probability that if the nature of Obama’s threats is revealed, he will be forced to rescind them before Israel becomes the foreign corollary to the Americans whose health insurance Obama canceled.
Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.