Netanyahu Vs. the Left’s Dream Of Statesmanship Through Appeasement

AP Photo/Charles Dharapak
AP/Charles Dharapak

Tuesday night was tough for countless American journalists, who were obliged to delete their pre-written “Why Netanyahu Lost” gloat-posts and start from scratch with a fresh analysis of the Israeli Prime Minister’s huge election victory.

By Wednesday morning, they had to give up their last-ditch efforts to save those “Why Netanyahu Lost” posts by editing them into tortured “Why Netanyahu’s Opposition To Obama Made This A Close Race” screeds.

Lacking any other intellectual framework for analyzing what happened in Israel, the American Left will settle on denouncing Netanyahu as a paranoid race-baiter because he dared to notice the busloads of Arab voters rolling to the polls in an organized effort to unseat him.

This is an old game of the Left’s. There’s nothing wrong with using legal organizing efforts to get legal voters to the polls, but it’s supposedly an outright sin to notice that it’s happening, because it’s morally wrong for other groups of voters to decide they don’t want the people on the buses to decide the election.

This is another way of saying that certain ideological, racial, or religious groups are more legitimate than others. Group A is portrayed as a noble band that exemplifies the highest ideals of democracy when they organize, but Group B is nothing but a pack of selfish racist villains for organizing against them.

There has been much commentary from within Israel itself about pushback against Barack Obama’s forces for seeking to influence their election. That shouldn’t come as a surprise. No one likes outsiders tinkering with their elections. In the U.S., it is common for candidates in state races to complain about out-of-state media and money deployed against them.

The greatest disconnect between American political and media wishcasting about Netanyahu’s impending defeat, and what actually happened, is that Israeli voters are still concerned about the cold realities of national security, while Obama’s crew is busy gambling billions of dollars and millions of lives on elaborate theories about how appeasement can turn terrorists into statesmen. This is the central “insight” of Obama foreign policy. It hasn’t worked yet, but they’re still trying to make it happen.

Conflict always comes down to a question of will, but terrorism is a degenerate form of warfare specifically intended to degrade the civilian willpower of its targets. The more traditional model of warfare envisions a fracture of military morale – the enemy’s forces are defeated in combat, causing their political masters to conclude that further hostilities are pointless. This expanded to include direct attacks on civilian infrastructure during the world wars – famously including, but by no means limited to, the Battle of Britain and the atomic bombs dropped on Japan – but the general theory of warfare still involved military defeat and formal surrender.

Terrorists, on the other hand, largely bypass adversarial military forces, aside from sneak attacks on troops at rest designed more to inspire fear among civilian leadership and voters than to break the moral of armed forces. (See, for example, Major Nidal Hassan’s jihad rampage at Ft. Hood.) The goal is to inflict misery and fear on civilians until their leadership begins granting the terrorists’ demands, a strategy that works much better against nations where a democratic nervous system transmits pain directly from voters to political representatives. You can kill a lot of civilians in a totalitarian dictatorship before the dictator feels anything worse than embarrassment.

The ideal end game for terrorists is to gain legitimacy – a seat at tables that should be forever denied to them, because they have committed unspeakable atrocities. It only takes a little bit of legitimacy to get the endgame rolling in a terror state’s favor. Once they’ve pressed civilized powers into negotiating their precious legitimacy away, they’ve won a crucial victory, and demonstrated superior will: We care about getting what we want more than you care about your supposedly sacred principles.

Obama’s foreign policy outlook is very favorable to terror states like Iran or what passes for Palestinian “government,” because he concedes legitimacy to them right at the start, free of charge, by showing great respect for their “grievances.” He begins from the position that Western culture is inherently flawed and sinful, having built its success upon the backs of exploited people. He’ll frown at what terrorists do, of course, but for him the question of legitimacy is a mixed muddle, a balances of percentages, not an absolute question of we’re in the right, and you’re an outlaw regime of bloodthirsty killers.

He’s not even rhetorically willing to assert absolute righteousness for his own country or its legal and philosophical traditions – hence his infamous lecture to Christians about not criticizing modern-day jihadis from their “high horses” because of the Crusades.

Obama wasn’t even all that incensed by the Islamic State until events forced him to take them seriously and denounce their actions, beginning with the near-genocide of the Yazidis. Until then, they were merely an annoying distraction from his ongoing Transformation of America project.

But if ISIS currently marks the boundary of what Obama’s foreign policy regards as political legitimacy, that only goes to show how much illegitimate behavior he’s willing to accept from his negotiating partners. He’ll make concessions to anything just below ISIS on the scale of evil, most notably including the world’s worst masterminds of international terror, the Iranians.

It’s downright astonishing to watch Team Obama scramble to legitimize Iran, even going so far as to strike Tehran and its key proxies from the official list of terror sponsors this week. We’re told to applaud the battlefield exploits of Shiite militias in Iraq that were murdering American soldiers on orders from Tehran just a few years ago. One of the most obvious reasons Obama tried to take Netanyahu out is that he keeps reminding the world of what Iran really is, and why allowing them to have nuclear weapons is a hideous mistake.

The Left thinks it can renovate terrorism into statesmanship by making concessions. If the trappings of responsible government are put in place – economic prosperity, respect for the political integrity of thug states, acknowledgement of their historical “grievances,” fawning praise for every empty gesture and hollow promise of good behavior the terror states make – then responsible government will be conjured into existence. Treat the mullahs of Iran, or the gangsters lording over Gaza, like they’re mature political leaders who appreciate the value of peaceful co-existence, and that’s what they will become.

In truth, they’ll gobble up those nuggets of legitimacy and congratulate themselves for cowing the West with their brutal tactics. The masters of Iran have a tendency to do that out loud, in public speeches and on social media, which would be a big problem for Obama’s team if they had any capacity for embarrassment, or faced domestic media interested in embarrassing them.

Obama and his foreign policy team think Israel’s legitimacy as a nation is even more negotiable than America’s, to put it mildly.  The Israelis allow Arab parties dedicated to their destruction – or, at the more respectable end of the spectrum, explicitly more dedicated to creating a Palestinian state than ensuring the success of Israel – to participate in their elections, and that still isn’t fair-minded and classically liberal enough to keep Obama and his supporters from denouncing them as bigots.

Netanyahu looks at the prospect of a Palestinian state carved out of Israel and sees it as a security threat, pointing to the history of what Palestinian “leaders” have actually been doing for the past few decades. The Left says forget about all that, they had legitimate “grievances,” and if you set them up with the independent nation they’ve been demanding, they’ll start behaving themselves out of… what? A sense of paternal responsibility toward their newly independent citizens? Why expect that from gangs that sink much of their humanitarian aid money and supplies into weapons and terror tunnels? Or are we supposed to think Hamas will be so grateful to Israel for giving them a state that they’ll set aside generations of brainwashing and start penciling Israel into the maps in their schools?

Likewise with Iran, which Obama thinks will become a responsible, well-behaved Great Power once it has nuclear weapons and dominion over most of the Middle East.

Forget about all that hostage-taking and terror sponsorship, let the sound of those roadside bombs in Iraq fade from your ears, and roll the dice on Tehran brimming with gratitude once it has been given the money, territory, and respect it demands. On the world stage, as in his domestic policy, Obama wants to lean hard on Those Who Work Hard and Play By the Rules, because a little more redistribution – of wealth, or of prestige – is all it takes to address all grievances and create cosmic justice, from which lasting peace and harmony flow. It’s an idea that appeals powerfully to the arrogance and moral vanity of its true believers, so they get angry when it’s challenged.