Just Words, Mr. President
“Just words? Just words? Don’t tell me words don’t matter,” said Barack Obama in 2008. He was responding to criticisms from the Hillary Clinton campaign that he had never done anything but deliver speeches.
Mr. Obama then recited the lines from Dr. King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech. He followed it by offering “All Men are Created Equal,” from the Declaration of Independence. And he closed with “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
All those hallowed words were followed up by actions. Dr. King went from the National Mall to “Bloody Sunday” at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama in 1965. Many of the Founding Fathers who signed that Declaration in 1776 would actually risk “their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.” Franklin D. Roosevelt, when he spoke on Inauguration Day, March 4, 1933, of our only fear being fear itself had just come away from an assassination attempt. Riding next to him in his open car was Mayor Cermak, who was killed. As our president for twelve years, Mr. Roosevelt would sail to summit conferences and fly to meetings of the Big Three, all the while risking being killed by the Nazis.
What actions have preceded President Obama’s assuring words to Israel on Iran? This president came to office pledging to the Iranian mullahs “an open hand, not a clenched fist.” They spat on his open hand. When the people of Iran rose up following obviously rigged elections in June, 2009, Mr. Obama declined to offer any support for the Green Revolution in the streets. Instead, green turned to red – the red bloodstains on the cobblestones as the mullahs' hired guns shot down pro-democracy demonstrators.
Mr. Obama has allowed Ahmadinejad, Iran’s putative head of state, to come to America to address the UN General Assembly and to deliver his rants against his neighbor, Israel. Ahmadinejad was further allowed to disport himself at Columbia University. All the while, Ahmadinejad had two American hikers locked up on trumped up charges.
The Obama administration betrayed our new allies in Eastern Europe – Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic – by ditching our anti-ballistic missile plans. For what purpose?
To gain Russia’s cooperation in dealing with Iran. Did we get it? Actually, no. Russia is busily pulling the teeth of UN resolutions dealing with Iran and Iran’s puppet state, Syria.
Now, President Obama assures Israel he “has their back.” Well, thanks to President Obama, Israel’s back is to the wall. Hamas, Hezbollah, and some new regional players are also at Israel’s back. It’s getting a bit crowded back there.
No one can doubt President Obama’s sincerity. He believes what he says when he says it.
They’re not just words.
He offered brave words early in his administration when he signaled a major change in U.S. foreign policy. No longer would the United States stand accused in the dock of world opinion. Under President Obama, we were at last joining an enlightened humanity.
With a great, left-handed flourish, the just-inaugurated President Barack Obama signed his Executive Order. In keeping with his campaign promise, made over and over again: Guantánamo Bay would close in one year.
What was that number? Executive Order Zero. Not only is Gitmo still open, but the most liberal Democratic Congress since Lyndon B. Johnson decreed in the waning days of 2010 that Gitmo shall remain open. (It’s the only good thing the 111th Congress did.)
So, are Mr. Obama’s words of assurance to Israel something substantial? Or are they, in Hillary’s words, just words?
If I had the responsibility for the life of the Jewish people and the survival of the State of Israel, I think I would look for something more solid on which to plan my own actions.
We shall see. Charles Krauthammer memorably said Israel was founded to prevent a second Holocaust, not to invite one. Israelis should remember that the Jewish people suffered a Holocaust because they trusted too much in the kindness of strangers.