October 08, 2008

Will Barack Obama Defend Israel? He Is Keeping His Options Open

By Julian Dunraven, J.D., M.P.A.

Honorable Friends,

I do not think the latest presidential debate was terribly enlightening for anyone who has been paying any attention over the past few months. However, it did contain one terrible surprise for me: Sen. Obama is not committed to the defense of Israel.

The question from retired Navy Chief Petty Officer Terry Shirey was simple, "If, despite your best diplomatic efforts, Iran attacks Israel, would you be willing to commit U.S. troops in support and defense of Israel? Or would you wait on approval from the U.N. Security Council?"

Both candidates rejected the idea of submitting to U.N. rule. Both candidates talked about attempting to use diplomacy, sanctions, and the combined pressure we can exert with our allies to prevent such an attack in the first place. "But, at the end of the day," Sen. McCain concluded, "I have to tell you again, and you know what it's like to serve, and you know what it's like to sacrifice, but we can never allow a second Holocaust to take place."

Sen. Obama's answer was neither as clear, nor as committed. "Now, it is true, though," he stated, "that I believe that we should have direct talks -- not just with our friends, but also with our enemies," particularly with Iran in such a situation. So as the president of the United States of America, he would be willing to legitimize the tyrant leader and clerics of Iran with the dignity of his office, but what of actually defending Israel -- one of our strongest allies? Of that, he says only that he is, "not taking military options off the table." In short, he would consider defending them as an option.

This comes from the same man who cannot say enough about how much more our allies need to be doing to help us with our efforts in Afghanistan and other places around the world. He expects them to help us, but seems to think defending them when they come under attack is optional. Last time I checked, mutual defense was the primary purpose of an alliance, and Israel's very existence is almost wholly dependent upon the solid and total commitment of the U.S. to that basic principle.

Sen. Obama's answer here was astonishing in its incompetence. Israel cannot survive such equivocation and hesitancy. Our allies can neither depend upon, nor trust, such inconstancy. Our own country cannot afford such ineptitude. We cannot afford to elect Barack Obama as our next president.

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P.S. The post debate media analysis alerted me to the astounding fact that some Democrats think Sen. McCain's obsequious use of the term, "my friends," is patronizing. Presumably, they think the same of my customary greetings at the start of every post. If so, I am sorry to cause offense. People may be interested to know that such phrases are fairly standard forms of polite address used in both Congress and the British parliament for centuries. Every student of Political Science will recognize the "honorable friend," of Edmund Burke echoing in the halls of Congress and Parliament to this day. To hear people disparage this ancient custom of civility and respect as patronizing is truly tragic. Personally, I think our politicians, and people in general, need to be more attentive to matters of civility -- not less.

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