In between shilling for more last minute health care sign ups and explaining in great detail the deep nuance of his NCAA bracket picks, President Obama managed to find a few minutes yesterday to instruct White House spokesman Jay Carney to demand another public apology (received today) from Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon for opining that America’s weak foreign policy will likely compel Israel to act alone to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
State Department spokesperson Jennifer Psaki rejected suggestions that her notoriously thin-skinned boss, Secretary of State John Kerry, was, well, thin skinned. In fact, she offered, Secretary Kerry is very “thick-skinned”, but nevertheless, upon learning that Ya’alon had again questioned American resolve, he immediately phoned Netanyahu to complain.
Psaki confirmed that Kerry stopped short of “demanding” Ya’alon’s resignation and added that Ya’alon’s comments were “certainly very confusing to us.” Ya’alon’s comments were just one of the events of the past few weeks that reveal just how much about the world seems to confuse this White House.
What it was specifically in Ya’alon’s comments that so deeply offended both the President and Secretary Kerry is harder to surmise. Speaking in Tel Aviv on Monday night, the 37 year IDF veteran and decorated former head of Israel’s military intelligence, said support for Israel is also in “America’s interest” and not just a “one way street.”
“They get quality intelligence and technology from us. We invented [the] Iron Dome [anti-rocket system] … and the Arrow [anti-ballistic missile system].”
“Nobody can replace the United States as global policeman,” said Israel’s Defense Minister, and “I hope the United States comes to its senses. If it doesn’t, it will challenge the world order, and the United States will suffer.”
An unnamed senior Administration official was quoted in the Jerusalem Post claiming that Ya’alon’s comments were “part of a disturbing pattern” in which the defense minister disparages the US administration, and insults its most senior officials.
If it is American gravitas he truly seeks to enhance, Secretary Kerry might start by recalibrating his moral compass to help him better distinguish friends from foes. If this administration was ever willing to bash bullies with the same intensity and frequency that it bullies allies, both America and her allies might find that fewer real bullies need bashing.