ORIGINAL POST: Today is a major test for President Obama as he addresses the U.N. General Assembly this morning.
- IRAN — Will he lay down the law with Iran? Will he mobilize the world to do everything in its power to bring the illegitimate and tyrannical regime in Tehran to its knees to stop the nuclear weapons program? Or will he be the 21st century Neville Chamberlain, and allow the world to lurch towards another Holocaust? I admit, I’m not that hopeful. But I do believe in the audacity of hope. Perhaps the President will rise to the challenge. That’s what I’m praying for.
- AFGHANISTAN — Iran is the top challenge facing the President, but not the only. He is getting weak in the knees on his resolve to win in Afghanistan. Our top general there says he needs more troops — fast — or we’re going to lose. Yet Obama won’t commit to giving our commanders on the ground everything they need. Remarkably, even an editorial in the Washington Post this morning challenges Obama for being weak and wobbly. We cannot lose in Afghanistan. If we do, we could destabilize Pakistan, a nuclear armed country. This could trigger a war with India and the Paks. The stakes are high. Let’s pray for the President to do the right thing.
- ISRAEL — Anti-Semitic and anti-Israel sentiment is metastasizing in the U.N. Will the President stand with our most faithful ally in the epicenter, or effectively cut her loose? Let’s be praying for good news.
God bless Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper for directing his delegation to walk out on Ahmadinejad.
MY INITIAL REACTION (updated analysis):
President Obama’s first address to the United Nations General Assembly was not just a disappointment, it was dangerous. Weak on Iran. Hard on Israel. Virtually silent on Afghanistan. The President effectively called for Israel’s capital city of Jerusalem to be divided, for Israel itself to be divided, and proposed no enforcement mechanism to stop Iran from getting the Bomb. This will only encourage the Radicals from Gaza City to Tehran.
- ON IRAN AND THE NUCLEAR THREAT — I was glad to hear President Obama say: “If the governments of Iran and North Korea choose to ignore international standards; if they put the pursuit of nuclear weapons ahead of regional stability and the security and opportunity of their own people; if they are oblivious to the dangers of escalating nuclear arms races in both East Asia and the Middle East — then they must be held accountable. The world must stand together to demonstrate that international law is not an empty promise, and that treaties will be enforced. We must insist that the future does not belong to fear.”
- Also glad that he said: “We must stop the spread of nuclear weapons….For decades, we averted disaster, even under the shadow of a superpower stand-off. But today, the threat of proliferation is growing in scope and complexity. If we fail to act, we will invite nuclear arms races in every region, and the prospect of wars and acts of terror on a scale that we can hardly imagine….The next 12 months could be pivotal in determining whether this compact will be strengthened or will slowly dissolve.”
- I was glad to hear him say: “We must never allow a single nuclear device to fall into the hands of a violent extremist.”
- But I was disappointed that the President drew no line in the sand with regards to Iran (much less North Korea), put no decisive enforcement mechanism on the table, threatened no consequences. Right now, the President is just talk. But the clock is ticking. Iran’s nuclear enrichment centrifuges are spinning. Iran’s ballistic missile factories are creating longer-range and more accurate delivery vehicles. If Washington and the world does not take decisive action to stop Iran this fall, we may very well leave the Israelis with no alternative but to strike. Is that what the world wants…Israel acting on its own when then is really a global problem?
- ON AFGHANISTAN — I was, frankly, stunned and disappointed that while the President mentioned the word “Afghanistan,” he barely talked about one of the most urgent military issues of our day. Will he accept his own commanders recommendations and put tens of thousands of more American troops into Afghanistan to defeat al Qaeda and the Taliban and secure the peace? Or will he cut and run? How could he not even broach the topic today?
- ON STANDING WITH ISRAEL – I was glad to hear the President say his goal is, in part, is “a Jewish state of Israel, with true security for all Israelis.” It’s important that the President affirms the essential Jewish character of the State of Israel. Palestinian leader Abbas, after all, won’t say he supports a “Jewish state” living next to a Palestinian one, which is telling indeed.
- But I was disappointed to hear Obama say: “America does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements” and disappointed to hear him say he supports “a viable, independent Palestinian state with contiguous territory that ends the occupation that began in 1967.”
- First, in its full historic context, the President is telling the Israelis they have to divide their eternal capital of Jerusalem (which was a divided city before ’67) and divide the actual territory of Israel by allowing the Palestinians to have “contiguous territory” — that is a land bridge between the West Bank and Gaza. This from a President who wouldn’t speak out on behalf of the pro-democracy Reformers in Iran this summer because he didn’t want to “meddle” in the internal affairs of another country? Mr. President, what you are proposing in morally wrong and strategically dangerous. Jerusalem should never be divided again. What’s more, the sovereign territory of Israel should never be divided at all. Certainly not because an American President insists on such things. And by insisting on them, the President is actually emboldening the Radical hardliners who will now argue that until the President forces Israel to make such sweeping concessions the jihadists should force such concessions.
- Second, why are the so-called “settlements” in Jerusalem and the West Bank illegitimate? In 1947, the U.N. Partition Plan offered half the holy land to the Jews, and half to the Arabs. The Jews said yes and created Israel. The Arabs said no and launched 62 years of war and terrorism. The Israelis have repeatedly offered the Palestinians “land for peace” deals, but the Palestinian leadership keeps saying “no.” So Israelis are building homes, schools, medical clinics and other communities on disputed territory that the Palestinians refuse to accept in return for real peace. Why is that wrong? Come with me to Israel. I’ll take you to the West Bank. These Jewish communities are being built on land where Palestinian Arabs aren’t even living. It’s vacant land. Again I ask, why is it illegitimate for Israelis to build on land that has repeatedly been offered to the Palestinians, but the Palestinians refuse to take? Moreover, the so-called West Bank was known in ancient times as “Judea and Samaria.” This is the biblical heartland of Israel. I support autonomy for the Palestinian people living in their own towns and villages. But I also support the right of Israeli Jews to build on the territory the Lord gave them as their “eternal possession.”
>> Netanyahu’s intriguing interview on NBC’s “Today” Show this morning — calls for “crippling” international economic sanctions on a “weak” Iran, and asks whether Palestinian leader Abbas is “an Arafat, or a Sadat?”
HEADLINES TO TRACK:
- Schedule of today’s speakers at the U.N. General Assembly
- Canada set to boycott Iran’s UN speech
- Prime Minister’s Office: Netanyahu’s speech at UN General Assembly [on Thursday] will be ‘dramatic’
- In U.S., Netanyahu refuses to rule out military strike on Iran
- Iran regime ‘weaker than people think': Netanyahu
- Obama: final status talks must ‘begin soon’
- Egypt: Probe Israeli nuke capabilities
- WSJ: Obama and the Politics of Concession: Iran and Russia put Obama to the test last week, and he blinked twice
- Washington Post: Wavering on Afghanistan? President Obama seems to have forgotten his own arguments for a counterinsurgency campaign
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