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Obama the Bluffer

The president says he’s got Israel’s back regarding Iran. So, why hasn’t the White House readied the American public for a possible military strike?

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U.S. President Barack Obama departs the White House March 9, 2012, in Washington, D.C. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

The president of the United States says he doesn’t bluff, but there’s nothing wrong with bluffing—especially when it comes to matters of war and peace. War is deception, said the prophet of Islam, and Western strategists agree. It is not raw strength that makes Ulysses a formidable opponent, but his cunning. In more recent times, the D-Day landing at Normandy was greatly facilitated by the Allies’ carefully plotted diversion, which convinced the Nazis that the invasion would be at Calais. For all real strategists, the game, to quote Captain Kirk, is not chess, but poker.

Obama has said that he thinks he’s a pretty good poker player, but to announce that you don’t bluff is about the most inept move conceivable. An experienced player would just keep his mouth shut.

No matter what the Obama Administration says about keeping all options on the table when it comes to Iran, it is very unlikely that the United States will choose to strike Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

Why? Most importantly, it’s an election year. The president is committed to extrication from the Middle East, not further military involvement. He promised to get us out of Iraq and did so, and he will withdraw American troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014. Like all incumbent candidates, he wants to show he keeps his promises—like killing Osama Bin Laden.

In reality, there’s a lot the Obama Administration hasn’t followed through on, especially in Middle East policy. The president said the Palestinian-Israeli conflict was the key to all other regional issues, and solving it would make it easier to achieve other goals, like winning Sunni Arab support to create a coalition to isolate Iran. But since Saudi Arabia and other Sunni Arab powers, like the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Jordan, had already made it clear to American policymakers that they were united against the Islamic Republic, they, as the more experienced players at the table, must have regarded the president’s strategy with dismay.

To show he was serious, the president and his staff publicly confronted the government of Israel over settlements on several occasions. The White House even got Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to call for a 10-month building freeze. But putting daylight between the United States and Israel proved futile, because the Palestinians expected Obama to further pressure Netanyahu. The result, as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas put it, was that Obama sent the Palestinians up a tree and took away the ladder. At this point, there is no peace process to speak of.

The president’s June 2009 Cairo speech promised to support the political aspirations of Muslims around the region. And yet when pro-democracy Iranians took to the streets only a few weeks later to protest the fraudulent election that kept Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in power, Obama was silent. For a president who came to office endorsing the use of nonmilitary power—or “smart power”—to promote American values and U.S. interests, missing an opportunity to side against the mullahs was an astonishing failure.

Obama missed the boat again with the Syrian uprising, where the opposition threatens to topple Iran’s key ally, the regime of Bashar al-Assad. But even now, the president has done little to ensure that the declared policy of the United States—that Assad step down—comes to pass. In fact, Obama seems to have adopted all of the Syrian regime’s messages to explain its own lack of action: The opposition comprises armed gangs and al-Qaida members; the Syrian military is too powerful; the opposition should negotiate with the regime that is murdering the Syrian people.

In fact, the president bluffs a lot. The tragedy is that his bluffs have not confounded American adversaries, but have revealed Obama’s inexperience while hurting American allies, from the Sunni Arab states to Israel.

Earlier this month, the president told AIPAC that he had Israel’s back, but he hasn’t played the one card that would indicate that he might actually wage a military operation against Iran. Namely, he hasn’t turned the American electorate against the Islamic Republic.

As the many errors of the Bush Administration in Iraq and Afghanistan reminded policymakers, a serious military campaign waged by a democracy requires the careful cultivation of popular support. It would not be very difficult to win such support from the American people regarding Iran, whether or not the president actually intends to attack. A recent Gallup poll shows that the American public already ranks Iran less favorably than any other country, at 10 percent, even lower than North Korea.

But rather than readying the American public for a possible strike on Iran, the Obama Administration has repeatedly warned that this would be a very bad move, whether carried out by the United States or Israel. Instead of highlighting the threat that Iran poses to American interests in the oil-rich Persian Gulf, and the violence that Iran has done to the United States, the Obama White House, like previous administrations, has largely obscured it.

The U.S. intelligence community knows very well that Iran manufactured the IEDs that have been killing and maiming many thousands of U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. But American policymakers have sat on that information perhaps for fear that it would enrage the American public and make them cry for revenge against the men in Tehran who have killed and wounded their loved ones. If Obama was serious about keeping a military option on the table, he’d go to the American public with that information.

This would put the president in a real bargaining position, as the only person capable of protecting the regime in Iran from the economic and military might of the United States. The American people want your head on a silver platter, he might tell Iran’s Supreme Leader, and there is little I can do to hold them back. Abandon your nuclear program and save yourselves, lest they force my hand. Only I can help you, but I serve at the pleasure of the American people. And after all, it is an election year.

But Obama is not playing poker with the Iranians. He’s running an information operation, and his target is the American Jewish vote. The same three-quarters of Jewish voters who voted for Obama last time will vote for him again because to these voters Rick Santorum is a Cossack and Mitt Romney is a cyborg whose suit pockets are stuffed with Wonder Bread. Obama knows that on the question of Iran’s nuclear program and Israel, the Jewish vote just wants its conscience eased a tiny little bit before voting for him again. Seen from this perspective, the president’s not bluffing; he’s just playing with house money.

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Jehudah Ben-Israel says:

Don’t believe Obama when he says he has Israel’s back / By Bret Stephens

Should Israelis and pro-Israel Americans take President Obama at his word when he says—as he did at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee policy conference in Washington, D.C., on Sunday—”I have Israel’s back”?


Here is a president who fought tooth-and-nail against the very sanctions on Iran for which he now seeks to reap political credit. He inherited from the Bush administration the security assistance to Israel he now advertises as proof of his “unprecedented” commitment to the Jewish state. His defense secretary has repeatedly cast doubt on the efficacy of a U.S. military option against Iran even as the president insists it remains “on the table.” His top national security advisers keep warning Israel not to attack Iran even as he claims not to “presume to tell [Israeli leaders] what is best for them.”

Oh, and his secretary of state answers a question from a Tunisian student about U.S. politicians courting the “Zionist lobbies” by saying that “a lot of things are said in political campaigns that should not bear a lot of attention.” It seems it didn’t occur to her to challenge the premise of the question. Still, if you’re looking for evidence of Mr. Obama’s disingenuousness when it comes to Israel, it’s worth referring to what his supporters say about him.

Consider Peter Beinart, the one-time Iraq War advocate who has reinvented himself as a liberal scourge of present-day Israel and mainstream Zionism. Mr. Beinart has a book coming out next month called “The Crisis of Zionism.” Chapter five, on “The Jewish President,” fully justifies the cover price.

Mr. Beinart’s case is that Mr. Obama came to his views about Israel not so much from people like his friend Rashid Khalidi or his pastor Jeremiah Wright. Instead, says Mr. Beinart, Mr. Obama got his education about Israel from a coterie of far-left Chicago Jews who “bred in Obama a specific, and subversive, …

Jehudah Ben-Israel says:

…vision of American Jewish identity and of the Jewish state.”

At the center of this coterie, Mr. Beinart explains, was a Chicago rabbi named Arnold Jacob Wolf. In 1969, Wolf staged a synagogue protest in favor of Black Panther Bobby Seale. In the early 1970s, he founded an organization that met with Yasser Arafat’s Palestine Liberation Organization—this being some 20 years before Arafat officially renounced terrorism. In the early 1990s, Wolf denounced the construction of the Holocaust Museum in Washington.

And, in 1996, the rabbi “was one of [Mr. Obama’s] earliest and most prominent supporters” when he ran for the Illinois state Senate. Wolf later described Mr. Obama’s views on Israel as “on the line of Peace Now”—an organization with a long history of blaming Israel for the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Mr. Obama had other Jewish mentors, too, according to Mr. Beinart. One was Bettylu Saltzman, whose father, developer Philip Klutznick, had joined Wolf in “his break with the Israeli government in the 1970s.” Ms. Saltzman, writes Mr. Beinart, “still seethes with hostility toward the mainstream Jewish groups” and later became active in left-wing Jewish political groups like J Street. Among other things, it was she who “organized the rally against the Iraq War where Obama proclaimed his opposition to an American invasion.”

Ms. Saltzman also introduced Mr. Obama to David Axelrod, himself a longtime donor to a group called the New Israel Fund. For a flavor of the NIF’s world view, a WikiLeaks cable from 2010 noted that an NIF associate director told U.S. embassy officials in Tel Aviv that “the disappearance of a Jewish state would not be the tragedy that Israelis fear since it would become more democratic.”

Other things that we learn about Mr. Obama’s intellectual pedigree from Mr. Beinart: As a student at Columbia, he honed his interests in colonialism by studying with the late pro-Palestinian agit-Prof. Edward Said. In 2004,…

Jehudah Ben-Israel says:

…Mr. Obama “criticized the barrier built to separate Israel and its major settlements from the rest of the West Bank”—the “barrier” meaning the security fence that all-but eliminated the wave of suicide bombings that took 1,000 lives in Israel.

We also learn that, according to one of Mr. Beinart’s sources, longtime diplomat Dennis Ross was brought aboard the Obama campaign as part of what Mr. Beinart calls “Obama’s inoculation strategy” to mollify Jewish voters apprehensive about the sincerity of his commitments to Israel. Not surprisingly, Mr. Ross was a marginal figure in the administration before leaving last year.

In Mr. Beinart’s telling, all this is evidence that Mr. Obama is in tune with the authentic views of the American Jewish community when it comes to Israel, but that he’s out of step with Jewish organizational leadership. Maybe. Still, one wonders why organizations more in tune with those “real” views rarely seem to find much of a base.

But the important question here isn’t about American-Jewish attitudes toward Israel. It’s about the president’s honesty. Is he being truthful when he represents himself as a mainstream friend of Israel—or is he just holding his tongue and biding his time? On the evidence of Mr. Beinart’s sympathetic book, Mr. Obama’s speech at Aipac was one long exercise in political cynicism.

Ruth Gutmann says:

Is the Tablet a subsidiary of the Weekly Standard?

fred lapides says:

If Obama is only bluffing what has Israel been doing for many months now?

Jews who support and vote for Obama are setting the stage for Iran’s nuclear weapons and for the continuation of terrorism against Israel, and maybe war, by Iran’s proxies such as Hamas and Hizballah.

Unfortunately, many Jews on the left have no problem with this. Beinart’s book, as noted in earlier posts, details this at length.

esthermiriam says:

An attack on Iran, by US or Israel, WOULD be a very bad move. I wish there were more sane discussion of that, and regret Obama has seemed to take containment off the table, but am glad there are a few adults in charge here.

Obama just needs to act his part in the control drama. This time he is playing “good cop”.

The Jewish dominated mass media is making a concerted effort to prepare the American sheeple for the attack on “evil muslims” in Iran.

A President need not bluff. That wouldn’t be Presidential. A President can also bluff and say he won’t bluff. That is Presidential.

It’s all a control drama with actors playing their roles of deception, misdirection and ritual death.

Alan Friedlander says:

Why are you, and other journalists who take up your theme depicting President Obama as a weak leader on Iran, stop pussyfooting around and say what you seem to really mean? Namely, that the U.S. should prepare and actually carry out a bombing campaign against Iran’s nuclear facilities. But the president has made it clear enough that he does not believe this is the time for either Israel or the U.S. to attack and start a conflict with unknown unintended consequences that could really hurt either or both allied countries. He really would appear to be a weak leader if he tried to prepare the American people for war and then backed off on actually carrying out an attack. Yes, there is a lot of bluffing going on by all parties. Sometimes it is called diplomacy. A wait and see policy is not appeasment provided that there are clearly defined intelligence triggers in place.

Lee Smith is spot on! We have already seen this film! President Obama is Neville Chamberlain; Iran is Nazi Germany; the Palestinians are the Sudeten Germans; the feckless Europeans play themselves;and Israel is stuck with the part of 1938 Czechoslovakia. Last weekend on Fareed Zakaria, Henry Kissinger was pointing out that if there is to be a negotiation with Iran, the USA must have something tangible to offer Teheran. Well guess what that give-away item will be? Why, Israel’s nuclear weapons of course. President Obama is itching to buy off Iran by focusing the world’s attention on Israel’s nuclear weapons. And, this was already prefigured in Obama’s June 2009 Cairo speech, which despite everything is probably still the best clue as to who President Obama really is with regard to Israel. For line-by-line Israel analysis of the Cairo speech and for “Obama: Walking on Israel in Chamberlain’s Shoes?” go to the November 2009 postings on my “audi alteram partem” website at I can assure you, you will not you will not regret it…

jameson says:

Can someone please explain to me what “winning” a war with Iran would actually look like and how much it might cost in the short and the long run? There is no such thing as a “surgical strike” on their nuclear facilities–it could not be done just from the air. Iran is a big country with lots of people and an air defense system.

This wouldn’t be a cakewalk like Iraq. And even that wasn’t a cakewalk.

And yes, Ruth Guttman is right–with Adam Kirsch writing about Saul Bellow and the sheer predictability of Lee Smith, TABLET is just a more blatantly Jewish version of the WEEKLY STANDARD. And even less relevant. What a waste of resources.

George One says:

Obama is a disaster for the US and a disaster for Israel. And saying that solving the Israel-Palestinian conflict is the key to all the problems in the Middle-East shows how little he knows about anything. The Middle-East has many other problems to solve – and the first sign that it is on the right track will be when the Arab countries have leaders who recognise and cooperate with Israel for the good of their populations.

George says:

For those foolish people who still think Obama is a ‘friend’ to Israel.

Obama’s allegiance to Israel has been declared to AIPAC repeatedly–as if his allegiance to Israel is a higher calling than his allegiance to our Constitution and to the American people. When nativity scenes are illegal on Federal property, a 35 foot national menorah is lit by the Obama appointed orthodox Jew Chief of Staff.

Obama’s current coy act which may feed Jewish paranoia–interpreted as not having Israel’s back is no more convincing that World Wrestling commercials. But then, perhaps the Kol Nidre has had an effect on Obama regarding his vow to Israel?

George says:

. ‘The same three-quarters of Jewish voters who voted for Obama last time will vote for him again because to these voters Rick Santorum is a Cossack and Mitt Romney is a cyborg whose suit pockets are stuffed with Wonder Bread.’

I hope Lee Smith is wrong on that, especially on the viewing of Santorum as a ‘cossack.’ It’s hard to believe a people regarded as being among the more intelligent members of the human species could hold such a stupid opinion. But it appears that in 2012, as it turned out in 2008, it may once again prove you can take Jews out of the ghetto but you can’t take the ghetto out of the Jew. Translation-Barry will probably end up with, if not the 75-80% of the Jewish vote he got in ’08, at least half if not more.

eliezer moshech bagezer says:

Mid-east is entirely dysfunctional, politically, socially & economically. US is unable to salvage nor remedy this entire region. Last adventure in Mess-Opotamia was disastrous. Dysfunctional states could topple their own regimes, and replace it with religious fanatics.

MethanP says:

The president doesn’t care a whit about Israel or Jewish concerns. He spent 20 years listening to the anti-semitic rants of Rev Wright without complaint. He will happily sell Israel down the river if it gets him a 2nd term. Yet, the opposite is also true. If he thinks it will buy him that 2nd term, he will have no qualms about blowing Iran to kingdom come. He’s a Chicago Machine Pol. He has no political scruples.

George says:

Ed Kendrick, go live in Israel for a few years and experience life with Hezbollah on your northern border and Hamas in Gaza,the rocket attacks, the violence, the non-stop threats and calls for wiping Israel off the map from the arabs and Iranians, and then you may be qualified to intelligently discuss whether it is the Israelis who are suffering from ‘paranoia’ or those, like yourself, who are afflicted with the ‘paranoia’ which views Israel as unduly concerned with its own survival.

For a new Israeli perspective, see;

For all we know about USS Liberty, Lavon Affair, 9/11–the rockets may be another false flag operation to justify the genocide and continuing conflict. It wasn’t muslims.

    1Historian says:

    Osama Bin Laden admitted he organized the attacks on 9/11. It wasn’t Muslims? Anti-Semites love to blame the Jews. Kendrick would be relegated to the aluminum hat brigade were it not for the Internet and comment boards.

Okay, so what do we expect from someone who writes for the Weekly Standard? No way that the writer will do anything but take the most pessimistic view of the Obama administration. The same pressure was created when the neo-Cons wanted the U.S. to intervene in Libya and accused Obama of leading from behind. Obama got that one right and it is not acknowledged by this writer. Obama has said that containment of a nuke possessing Iran is off the table as a strategic option. Short of the U.S. bombing Iran, which Obama doesn’t have to prepare the American people for since most people with shrug if we just drop bombs, this writer will never believe.
Lastly there is the question of the containment strategy. If I were Iran I would be sorely tempted to go nuclear since the U.S. invaded my neighbor at will and without clear provocation. That fact is never mentioned. It ought to be if one has an honest discussion about this situation.

Gordon Lunan says:


Lynne T says:

What a surprise. Ed Kendrick has “truther” sympathies.

Such “genocide” and “continuing conflict” as is occuring in the entire region is the product of the ascendancy of two very toxic strains of Islam and financed by the high price of petroleum, with “the plight of the Palestinians” a very thin pretext seized upon by fanatics and plunderers.

Yes, we are all hammered with the Jewish narratives via the Jewish-dominated mass media. The demonization of muslims is bolstered by Hollywood (Jewish) stereotypes of muslims.

The lessons of the holocaust are lost on those who claim to be the most victimized and who insist others pay heed to the holocaust lessons.

Threats of attack upon Iran come several times a day from Israel. Who is the aggressor nation? Who won’t sign the NNPT? Who won’t allow IAEA inspections? Who lie about their transgressions–and scream–“we are the victims who must protect ourselves”.

It is psychopathic.

Kate says:

Ed Kendrick, I am neither Jewish nor American, however the trained, rational mind will immediately recognise scapegoating and blood libel. I have studied the history of Islam and Arab appreciation of Nazism; both are hysterical, illogical and racist ideologies underpinned by hatred of that section of humanity libelled and murdered (for centuries) by Islam, the Church of Rome and many, many Lutherans. ‘Birds of a feather flock together’ indeed.

The web site you recommend “ It wasn’t muslims” is one beloved of self-designated “liberal” fascists unwilling to acknowledge the duplicity of relativism and/or the validity of international agreements. These are the people seeking to “finish the job Hitler started”.

…if his lips are moving….he’s lying

Thomas Beck says:

Typical right-wing nonsense. Obama is trying to save Netanyahu and American neocons from the disastrous consequences that would ensue if they somehow got their malignant wish and managed to start a war against Iran. Instead of carping, you should be thanking him from making the worst mistake you would ever “achieve” in your entire life.

Eric Weis says:

The premise of this article is false. It suggests that the US is not prepared for or capable of striking Iran. That claim flies in the face of reality. The US Fifth Fleet, part of Operation Enduring Freedom, is stationed in the Arabian (aka Persian) Gulf). Its forces can be projected into Iran in moments. The Persians are well aware of that. There is no need for bluffing by any American politician. If any American leader wants to obliterate Tehran, it is only a matter of giving commanders on station the green light. President Obama has the big stick, and for the most part, he is speaking softly. TR knew that saber rattling does not good, and so does Obama. No bluffing is needed.

hannah says:

So says the Republican, Obama has been doing a credible job, unlike this commentator, whose bias is right up front. When all the Israelis such as Dagan have called such a strike “a major blunder”, I’ll bet on Obama any day.

lee smith’s article on the obama bluff is excellent.
i am not a military person – but isn’t it too late
when someone comes in to help by being “at someone’s back?”
no answer expected.

George says:

Ed Kendrick, the role of Saudis in financing, planning and carrying out 9/11 has now been fully revealed by US government officials. Anyone, like yourself, who believes that israel was in any way connected to the attack is a certifiable moron. What’s next from your storehouse of information, ‘The Protocols of Zion?’

George says:

Obama’s Pastor for 20 years, Rev Wright,endorses ‘March on Jerusalem’. And Obama claims he never knew of Wright’s politics or heard him speak on these topics. And if you believe that, you’ll believe anything.

DOC Z says:

When are you people gonna get it thru your thick heads ??? OBAMA is an Arab, and a Moslem … He is absolutely NO FRIEND of Israel … is is NEVER to be trusted … whatever he says, believe the exat opposite …

JCarpenter says:

apparently the President does not want to usher in Armageddon, unlike his fundamentalist/”evangelical” political opponents . . . .we’ve been entrenched in a decade-long mess in Iraq and Afghanistan; let’s up the ante and start a war with Iran while we’re at it.

Samuel Cooper says:

After reading all of the above comments, I can only be reminded of every Monday morning during football season in the US when everyone talks about the “game” from the previous day. They are all smarter then the coaches who are paid astronomical amounts of money because they are idiots. Seems to me there is a whole lot of Monday Morning Quaterbbacking going on here. All of the comments are based on what someone wrote, and you can find hundreds of writing to support whatever view you choose to espouse. Opinions with all of the facts are just that, opinions. No more need be said.

Floyd says:

Another neo-con who will fight the proposed Iran war from his computer keyboard while others die. The alternatives to re-electing Obama are too horrible to contemplate.
Starting another war is not the answer.

I wish Tablet would present an article clearing up some things about Iran.
(1) Military and intelligence sources state
authoritatively that Iran is not developing atomic weapons.
(2) Iran does not have a history of aggressive, “preemmptive” attacks on other nations but Israel does. Based on that, the
world would be safer if atomic weapons were in the hands of Iran rather than Israel
(which lies about having such weapons).

(3)Put to rest once and for all the canard that Ahmadinejad called for the removal of
Israel from the map of the world. He actually called for the disappearance of the
“regime” in Jerusalem from the pages of time. In other words “Regime Change” which is OK with voices like Tablet when it concerns regime change in Iran and countless Muslim nations that oppose Israel.

I know no such article will appear in Tablet
and the Jewish media will continue to lie us
into a war with Iran the way they lied us into wars with Iraq and Afghanistan.
After all, the U.S. is Israel’s b–ch.

George, well before the recent ‘revelation’ of Saudi involvement, the following circumstantial connections have been known:
Dancing Israelis arrested and turned loose in 10 weeks. One of three appearing on Israeli television said they were in the US to document the event (a surprise attack?)
Urban Moving Systems a front company for vans containing explosives.
ODIGO paging service
Comptroller Rabbi Dov Zakheim of the Pentagon during whose tenure was missing $3.4 trillion in allocations. Dept. of Naval Intelligence accounting division was hit by the missile–killing half the accountants, auditors and budget analysts. Zakheim was also CEO of a company that manufactured and installed remote flight control systems for Boeing.
Myth-making Philip Zelikow, primary author of the 9/11 Commission Report.
Silverstein purchased a rider insurance for terrorism losses and claimed double indemnity.
There are many Israeli connections. Jonathan Elinoff’s DVD entitled CORE OF CORRUPTION identifies a Germany-based Mossad contingent who lived on the 91st floor of one tower–in the guise of being ‘art students’ with construction passes for access.

It is good detective work that uncovers these an many more connections. Perhaps the biggest clue of Jewish criminal network involvement is the blackout by mass media and Hollywood of these many connections. The Saudis don’t control media–nor do they have political clout (like AIPAC has) to keep the Congress from doing a proper job of investigating.

I detect a ‘hive mind’ of collusion and cover-up. The Protocols do have a ring of truth when overlaid on todays happenings.

ahad ha'amoratsim says:

Ed Kendrick is his own refutation. Use of Jew as an adjective; slurs about Kol Nidre, banning of Christianity in America and setting up Judaism to replace it; long discredited lies about Israelis celebrating and perpetrating 9/11; complaints about the war mongering Jewish controlled news and entertainment media — you couldn’t find a more stereotypical Jew hater if you wrote him from scratch.

To the Guttnicks and others who think that calling Lee Kaplan’s article by saying it is neocon or Republican or like the Weekly Standard, without bothering to offer any refutation — what you are doing is name calling, not discussion. Take a good look at the company you are choosing to keep.

George says:

Ed, wonderful detective work there but I’m surprised you left out the most convincing evidence..the magical transformation of Israelis into 19 actual Saudi Arabians.Could you enlighten us on how this wondrous feat was accomplished?

Stergeye says:

The very clear message Obama has sent to Iran is this:
Please wait until after the election.

Obama’s assurances that he “has Israel’s back” obviously has a limited shelf life. If he is re-elected, the posture will no longer be necessary. Iran could reasonably assume that they have the green light to proceed with their nuclear plans once Obama no longer needs to keep up the pretense to hold onto the Jewish vote.

If this is the Administrations rationale, there are two big problems:
First, the “12th Imam” logic of Iran’s political leadership hasn’t demonstrated a fine grasp of American political currents, and are just as likely to forge ahead with plans to confront the Big and Little Satans while they still maintain power.
Second, Netanyahu DOES have a shrewd grasp of both US political currents and Obama’s ambivalence; he may deem it necessary to force Obama’s hand by taking military action against Iran before November.

The maddening thing is that this whole mess could easily have been circumvented. The electoral unrest after the 2009 Iranian elections was a moment which Obama could have effortlessly exploited to topple the weakened Mullahcracy, resolve the whole Mid-East crisis, permanently stabilize the price of oil, and absolutely guarantee his reelection in a landslide. Instead, the Obamassiah chose to rely on his much-vaunted charismatic diplomacy, and squandered the opportunity.

Of COURSE Obama “doesn’t bluff.” He doesn’t know how.

The process of transformation is called “enforced narrative”–making the narrative a substitute for reality. That 5-7 of the named hijackers turned up alive seems to have escaped your notice. As early as September 23, named “hijackers” presented themselves…alive and well.

Your capacity for mendacity seems to know no bounds, George.

Hershl says:

Oh, well.

I am a registered Independent, a Jew, and a gay man.

I also am a big supporter of Israel as a Jewish state.

Do I believe Obama has got our back?

Of course, not.

No Jew in their right mind believes this.

If the polls are close for 2012 I will have no hesitancy to vote for Romney.

It will be the first time in my life I ever voted for a Republican but then again it will be the first time in my life we have ever had president like Obama who is so unsupportive of Israel’s security.

November can’t come soon enough.

larry payne says:

The people of Israel and the people who support Israel are very careful not to mention that Israel developed illegal nuclear weapons and has kept them hidden for many years.

If Israel would give up these warheads and the facilities that produce them, Iran would not even have a motive for pursuing nuclear weapons. But Israel is a dishonest and hypocritical nation–much like the U.S–but much more bloodthirsty in war.

larry, you seem to be sure that Israel has nuclear weapons and then to also assume that if they had them that would be illegal (though Israel is not party to any treaty that would make them illegal). But your last statement gives away your bias – calling Israel “bloodthirsty” – with that anti-Semitism you are sure to overlook all the Iranian statements of wanting to wipe out Israel – or maybe even cheer on the Iranians.

This article is another example of the endless musings of the “we hate Obama” crowd that doesn’t miss an opportunity to ignore this President’s accomplishments and suggest that he’s incompetent and untrustworthy person.

Arguing that Obama is bluffing on Iran is a more intellectual version of the birther-mentality. Nothing, nothing this man can do or say will ever satisfy those who still haven’t accepted him as President and possibly their intellectual better. “That damn uppity shvartza!”

larry payne says:

Eli, are you totally ignorant of what is common knowledge to most people? Do you not know that Mordecai Vanunu revealed photographs of Israel’s nuclear weapons program in 1986. Israel, in retribution, kidnapped Vanunu and held a secret trial in which he was sentenced to prison for eighteen years, 11 of which was in solitary confinement. The part that is illegal about Israel’s nuclear weapons is that Israel is still taking foreign aid in the amount of $3 billion a year from the U.S. U.S. policy bans aid to any country that produces and maintains nuclear weapons. Iran’s leaders have never made any statements threatening to wipe out Israel. You are a liar, Eli.

Bibi is a true statesman and understands the Iranian threat for Israel and the entire world. President Obama looks like just another politician next to Bibi and he is clearly not pro-Israel, as the past threes years have indicated. Unfortunately, the majority of Jews will vote for him again as President and he will likely be reelected. That’s why Israel must strike before the presidential election since Israel cannot rely on Obama to strike Iran after the election and it will be too late for Israel to strike and be effective. G-d forbid that Iran ever acquires nuclear weapons and uses them against Israel. But, if that ever happened, I can just hear the Jewish Obama supporters exclaim ” Obama did everything that he could ” or ” We didn’t think Iran would really act irrationally and really use them”. After three years, I cannot understand how the majority of Jews can vote for Obama. I could not live with myself if Israel was destroyed and by supporting Obama, I contributed to the destruction. My hands will not be dripping with my fellow Jews’ blood!!

What a load of cobblers.

Regarding Mitchell Gilbert’s comment, I have been a life-long Democrat and voted for Obama, but after examining his record on Israel for the past three years, I cannot vote for him again. Most of my friends who voted for him have decided not to do so again. It’s unfortunate that the facts and deeds of Obama indicate that he’s not pro-Israel, but 2+2=4, not 5. The facts and Obama’s record speak for themselves. Too bad , Mr. Gilbert cannot see the facts ,or he just refuses to do so.

Peter says:

We should be making friends with Iran – they pose no threat to America, and that’s all that matters. Nor do they pose any threat to Israel, a nuclear power, they just want the soft headed Americans to engage in another Proxy wat for Israel – the American people are begining to wake up to this. Iran is NOT an aggressive Nation and have not attacked anyone for thousands of years, and then only against Sparta, under Xerxes. Without getting into the moral componant of attcking an innocent, non-aggressive Nation like Iran, from a practicla point of view, this attack would greatly hurt this Nation, America and we are already on the verge of collapse – do the jews want this on their heads? Do they care? Or are they blinded by Israel and only want to attack, or have the American pittbull attck for her? The jews are begining to look a bit bloodthirsty. Time will tell. Peter

Meir70 says:

The United States of America provided a haven from oppression, if not from being murdered, in Europe, to members of my family since the early 1900s. I have not forgotten this. I will vote for the candidate who I believe is best for the United States of America, and that is Barak Obama.

Those who would vote in an election based on what they believe is best for another country–any other country–should move to that country. And citizens of any other country who vote based on what they believe is best for the United States of America should come here.

The racism and the lashon hara (false, damaging statements) printed here from some of those purporting to be Jewish is a chillul Ha Shem (profanation of God’s name).

Those lauding members of the present Israeli leadership would do well to acquaint themselves with the charges of personal favors accepted by some of them from wealthy individuals. Sadly, Israeli leadership in recent years has been sullied by charges, investigations and convictions for criminality. The self-righteous here who attack President Obama would perform a mitzvah (good deed) by emigrating to Israel and disseminating their morality.

George says:

No one should find it strange or unnatural that worldwide Jewry, that is, those self-identifying Jews who are proud of their ethnicity , should make the security and survival of Israel an important issue. Those who do, do so out of prejudice and/or ignorance. Those ‘Jews’ who also criticize Jewish concern for Israel are to be particularly pitied. They, of all people, should understand what Israel signifies for Jews at this point in history and the threats it must contend with on a daily basis.

Larry, here is Iran’s leaders’s own words:

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says, “The Zionist regime is really the cancerous tumor in this region and it needs to be removed and it will be removed,” (according to a simultaneous English translation on state-run PressTV)

And Khamenei’s strategist provided the legal and religious justification for the annihilation of Israel and the Jewish people, in a document published on conservative Farsi website Alef.
The document, written by strategy specialist Alireza Forghani, outlined the reasons why, “In the name of Allah, Iran must attack Israel by 2014.”

Claiming to only represent the personal opinion of its author, and not the Iranian government, the doctrine was published on a website believed to have close ties with the Ayatollah.

“Every Muslim is obliged to equip himself against Israel,” he urged, reasoning that if the Muslim world does not attack Israel in the near future, “the opportunity could be lost and it may not be possible to stop them.”…

He posited that since Israel requires US and western support in order to attack Iran, the latter should take advantage of western “passiveness” to “wipe out Israel.”

The document also provides a “concise description of mid- and long-range ballistic missiles that can target territories of this regional cancerous tumor” and destroy Israel in “less than nine minutes.”

Jehudah Ben-Israel says:
Gabriel ben Avarham says:

This article is overly long, repetitive in substance, lacking in authority references, and even lacks internal coherence. (e.g., prepare the public for war and still hold out the element of surprise attack against Iran), sound mutually exclusive to me. What is most troublesome is that Table magazine allows itself to be a shill for the Weekly Standard.

Gabriel ben Avarham says:

Also what is especially troubling is the oft-repeated lie that Obama is himself an anti-semite. That’s why virtually all of his advisors are Jewish! That’s why he counts so may Chicago jews as personal friends! That’s why whenever these facts are pointed out the right wing quickly rejoins: “Oh, those are the self-hating Jews”!!. I guess 80% of jews in the US, and at least 45% of jews in Israel are
self-hating. Because we jews were without military muscle for so many tens of hundreds of years, we deluded ourselves to believe that every problem in foreign relations has a military solution. Like bombing Iran is all we need to do. Look how well that works for the US in Vietnam, and the USSR in Afghanistan.

George says:

Oh yeah, Obama’s ‘Jewish’ advisors. The third branch of Israel’s devoted enemies: The Nazis, the Islamists, and the whacked-out Far Left Jews.

‘ Mr. Obama got his education about Israel from a coterie of far-left Chicago Jews who “bred in Obama a specific, and subversive, vision of American Jewish identity and of the Jewish state.”

At the center of this coterie, Mr. Beinart explains, was a Chicago rabbi named Arnold Jacob Wolf. In 1969, Wolf staged a synagogue protest in favor of Black Panther Bobby Seale. In the early 1970s, he founded an organization that met with Yasser Arafat’s Palestine Liberation Organization—this being some 20 years before Arafat officially renounced terrorism. In the early 1990s, Wolf denounced the construction of the Holocaust Museum in Washington.

Mr. Obama had other Jewish mentors, too, according to Mr. Beinart. One was Bettylu Saltzman, whose father, developer Philip Klutznick, had joined Wolf in “his break with the Israeli government in the 1970s.” Ms. Saltzman, writes Mr. Beinart, “still seethes with hostility toward the mainstream Jewish groups” and later became active in left-wing Jewish political groups like J Street. Among other things, it was she who “organized the rally against the Iraq War where Obama proclaimed his opposition to an American invasion.”

Ms. Saltzman also introduced Mr. Obama to David Axelrod, himself a longtime donor to a group called the New Israel Fund. For a flavor of the NIF’s world view, a WikiLeaks cable from 2010 noted that an NIF associate director told U.S. embassy officials in Tel Aviv that “the disappearance of a Jewish state would not be the tragedy that Israelis fear since it would become more democratic.”

As a student at Columbia, he honed his interests in colonialism by studying with the late pro-Palestinian agit-Prof. Edward Said. In 2004, Mr. Obama “criticized the barrier built to separate Israel from suicide bombers.’

Elise Hietikko says:

America is a democracy and the majority of Americans do NOT want war. And although the opposition in Syria and Iran are strong, they do not seem to be near the majority yet either. There are issues of class that this magazine regularly ignores that throws off analysis (ex. Syria, Iran, Libya & Venezuela).

Obama could also reveal the arms the U.S. bought for Ugandan dictator last year in Jerusalem, and the many other weapons deals where Israel military companies profited off of war in Africa, so I don’t think bringing up the comparatively small amount of IED’s made by Iran benefits Israel.

This article does not make a rational argument why Obama, much less Americans, would benefit from attacking Iran. This lack of a good argument is the real problem. Why is Iran an imminent threat to the national security of the U.S.? Why not spend these tax dollars at home on needy Americans? Why send so much money to Israel in general? Jews are not the majority in America and rational arguments to non-Jews is essential.

Jules says:

Elise Hietikko, That is a correct and accurate statement. I cannot find one person among anybody I personally know much less a majority of the American public who wants with all the the fondest yearnings of the their hearts a war with Iran.

larry payne says:

Eli, it has already been pointed out on this thread that saying Irael’s regime needs to be wiped out does not translate into Israel must be wiped from the face of the earth.

It is no different from what the Zionists want to do to Iran’s leaders. But the Zionists also want to destroy Iran which has the largest Jewish population of any Middle Eastern country other than Israel.

When you have to use the phrase “believed to have been” to qualify your evidence, it means your evidence has no backing.

Ronen says:

There were an estimated 80,000 Jews in Iran before Khomeini came to power. Very shortly thereafter, his regime executed many Jewish community leaders on charges of ‘spying.’ Those Jews both rich and poor who valued the quality of life their children would have to endure under the ayatollahs, fled the country however they could. Many were caught trying to flee and vanished, never to be seen again.

Harold says:

Thank you, Lee Smith!

And thank you, Jehudah Ben-Israel!

מתי says:

Ed Kendrick = quack and anti-semite but not in that order.

מתי says:

Zan, beware of your own hatred.

larry payne says:

Ronen, I would guess that if any Jews were executed after the Shah was overthrown, it was because they were complicit with the Shah’s brutality.

Why do you suppose so many Jews remained in Iran and why does Iran give Jews a seat in Parliament if they are declined to persecute Jews? What you say does not make sense when these facts are considered.

    1Historian says:

    Larry Payne, you are ignorant. Jews remaining in Iran are prisoners. They cannot leave because they will be dubbed Zionist spies and executed. Your nonsense about Lyndon Johnson ordering the attack on the Liberty and 9/11 is also a joke. The Liberty was monitoring radio calls in a combat zone and the Israelis thought it was an Egyptian ship so attacked it in error. And, yes, steel can burn. Your accusations that Israel and Jews were behind 9/11 show you are an anti-Semite, nothing less. And you certainly are not an historian.

Jules says:

Ronen, when one stings together a string of transparent lies as as you have one should not expect them to stand up to the hard scrutiny of the truth.

Ronen says:

You’re entirely mistaken in that assumption. They were all murdered for alleged ties to ‘Zionism.’ The situation ofremaining jews and christians in the ayatollah’s Iran is that of protected dhimmis, secondclass citizens. The sharia laws protecting social and civil rights for moslems is abrogated for jews and Christians. All Jewish educational and religious schools are required to have moslem principals.To be a Jew in Iran is to accept your second class citizenship, keep your mouth shut and never criticize the government.

Ronen says:

One of the drawbacks of online conversations is the intrusion of idiots like yourself Jules. I AM a Persian jew whose family left Iran 2 yrs after Khomeini returned from France.

Jules says:

I am not mistaken. You are a liar.

larry payne says:

Ronen, your description of how Jews are treated in Iran has many similarities to how Israel treats Palestinians.

Quid pro quo?

Meir70 says:


Re-read what I wrote: that those who put the welfare of another country ahead of their own should move to that country.

If you interpret it to mean an attack against those who are concerned for Israel’s security, try a little subtlety in your thinking. One can and should support Israel–or any other country close to their heart–but not make that the PRIMARY issue on what candidate should receive their vote and contributions.

The US and ANY of its strongest allies have to part on issues when they believe that their nation’s interests diverge. Just as PM Netanyahu has repeatedly said that Israel reserves the right to make its own decisions regarding an attack on Iran.

Recall the sinking of the Altalena and the firing on the Liberty. Where do you come down on those decisions of the Israeli leadership at the respective times? Some still condemn the decisions made for both ships.

It is not “utter gor utter gornisht.”

No one knows whether Obama is bluffing or nopt with respect to Iran, no one. However, anyone with just a bit of historical perspective would understand that a little bit of caution prior to launching an attack on Iran would be justified. Our country is stretched thin in many ways. In addition, one wouldn’t know it from Smith’s article, but there’s a heck of alot of controversey in Israel at the highest levels as to whether a strike on Iran is prudent or justified.

arcaneone says:

Quite an example of confused thinking. Let’s
try for a little clarity in a few points:
1)The fact that Iran’s government routinely reverses itself should not be viewed as a source of comfort. Iran is making bombastic
remarks playing to the most radical movements
in the Islamic world. It is gaining “street cred” by presenting itself as the powerful leader of the return of Islamic glory;
repeated ambiguity does not equate with “peace
in our time”; it is meant to cause confusion in the West and to prepare its
own population for war while skirting the edge of “plausible deniability”.

2)We should be brave enough to stand up for
our human right to support what we please.
We have to arrange numerous issues in order
of priority. If you believe(as I do)that Iran views itself as the spearhead of militarist Islam, you have nothing to apologize for if you believe that it is
likely to attack the US after overwhelming Israel. given that there is a lot of ambiguity thoughout Iran’s policy, it is easy to make the case that Iran is likely
to attack Israel first and the US second–
this does not equate to non-belligerance,
and loyal Americans will keep Iranian
aggression as far from the US as they can.
3)the nuclear arms of Israel are not equivalent to the nuclear arms development
by Iran. The Arab/Muslim world is easily a hundred times the Jewish population of Israel. It is highly likely that there would be an attept by Muslim countries to overwhelm that tiny state. Why not? If Israel seemed nonetheless to be winning
against some sort of Muslim coalition, there would be demands for a very inconvenient cease-fire, and the sacrifices
of Israel would be for nothing. Then, after a period of time, the Muslims could
launch another attack from those same lines
(because the UN has taken a stand against
territorial expansion by force under all circumstances). This situation will not bring peace, it will give expansionist Islam the right to turn the “war spigot”
on and off at will. CONT

Norman M. Trabulsy Jr. says:

Anyone one who advocates for bombing a country and their people, as those on this site do, should look in the mirror and ask themselves who the real terrorists are. The vast majority of these comments reflect an incredibly sick society. They say the oppressed become the oppressors, if left to their own devices. History doesn’t lie, people do. Most of you are sick and should get help. No need to respond. This is my first visit to this site, and the last. I’ll never look at this site again.

arcaneone says:

“Recall the sinking of the Altalena and the firing on the Liberty. Where do you come down on those decisions of the Israeli leadership at the respective times? Some still condemn the decisions made for both ships.”

The “Altalena” incident was a self-inflicted
wound that had at least a demonstrable purpose of creating a Jewish government that would speak to the world with one voice. Had it been my choice, I doubt that I would have had the cojones to sink the ship, but the purpose was clear, even though pros and cons were themselves tangled.

The “Liberty” tragedy is of another sort.
I was just involved(successfully) in a 200+ post debate
in which the purpose of the attack played
a very prominent role. All sorts of rationales were given and deconstructed.It
is clear(to me at least)that no one really knows why Israel should have attacked the
ship and thereby complicated enormously its
post-war diplomacy. The “mistake” rationale at least has the benefit of simplicity; with all the friendly fire
shootings in the Iraq and Afganistan wars,
it seems hard to argue that Israel couldn’t
lose track of local sea traffic for a few crucial minutes. If anyone wants to debate this point, I am up for it.

larry payne says:

Israel attacked the Liberty as part of a preplanned operation with the Lyndon Johnson administration as an excuse to get the U.S. involved in the ’67 war.

The operation was foiled when a U.S. military intelligence plane in the area heard the Israeli pilots discussing the attack as it was underway.

A U.S. carrier in the area sent a squadron of fighters to defend the Liberty but LBJ ordered McNamara to call them back.

The attack was deliberate and the U.S. Executive office conspired with Israel just as they did in 2001 to bring down the towers. Anyone who thinks fire can melt steel better throw out their cooking pots before they melt all over the stove.
Fire won’t even melt aluminum.

larry payne says:


It appears you aren’t up for it.

“Why hasn’t the White House readied the American public for a possible military strike?”

In case you haven’t noticed, America is winding up one major land war and still fighting another. The only way the White House could “ready the American public for a possible military strike” on Iran is by reinstating the draft.

Jonathan says:

Maybe he is bluffing. And so is Netanyahu. And Israel Loves Iran means that the Israeli public isn’t ready for it either. How does one prepare the public for war- for killing and being killed- anyway?


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