Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to Congress on Tuesday to warn Americans of the anti-Western threats from theocratic — and likely to soon be nuclear — Iran.
Netanyahu came to the U.S. to outline the Iranian plan to remake the Middle East with a new nuclear arsenal. His warning was delivered over the objections of the Obama administration, which wants to cut a deal with Iran that allows the theocracy to continue to enrich lots of uranium.
Netanyahu received a standing ovation for stating the obvious. Iran is the greatest sponsor of terrorism. Tehran now has de facto control over four nations: Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen. Iran has serially ignored all past U.S. deadlines to stop nuclear enrichment. It habitually misled U.N. inspectors. It threatens to spark a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.
At one point, the Iranian economy was sputtering due to Western sanctions. Hundreds of thousands of reformers hit the streets of Tehran in 2009 to protest what they believed to be the fraudulent results of a presidential election. The theocracy was worried that its nuclear plans would either cause economic collapse due to the sanctions or prompt some sort of Western military response.
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But all of that has changed due to the Obama administration’s zeal to conclude an agreement with Iran at any cost.
For the last six years, lots of American allies, besides Israel, have become scared of this strange new diffidence of the United States — as if the Obama administration feels America’s prior prominence as leader and protector of the West was either unwarranted, too costly or resulted in an unfair world order in need of adjustment.
President Obama entered office promising reset diplomacy with Russia. He declared an end to former president George W. Bush’s punitive measures against Russia — as if somehow the United States, not Russia, was responsible for the growing estrangement.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, however, interpreted the reset as American guilt. He assumed there would be few consequences to gobbling up the Crimea and eastern Ukraine in the same way that he had sliced off parts of Georgia. So far, he has been right.
Controversy surrounds the creation and spread of the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. But there is no disagreement about what followed Obama’s abrupt withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq, as he fulfilled a campaign promise.
At one time, the administration bragged of Iraq as possibly its “greatest achievement,” and as being “stable” and “secure.” But the precipitous pullout led to anarchy and a fertile landscape in which the Islamic State could thrive.
And for the first time since 2001, defense spending will dip below 4% of GDP, as the Army, Navy and Air Force shrink to near-record postwar levels.
The withdrawal from the world stage is associated not just with a massive borrowing and spending spree at home, but also with administration penance for supposed past self-righteousness and sins abroad — as Obama cites the gamut from the Crusades, the Inquisition, slavery and Jim Crow to the more recent Afghanistan and Iraq wars, Guantanamo Bay and the war on terror.
Historically, leaders who appeared weary and sounded apologetic invited chaos. And chaos encourages war — more so when weakness appears audacious.