Former US Ambassador John Bolton takes stock in the New York Post today of the ways in which the Obama administration over the past week has continued to signal its abandonment of Israel. He writes:
First, in the UN Security Council, the administration succumbed to the rush to criticize Israel in a statement that, albeit watered down, nonetheless greatly intensified international pressure on Jerusalem. The correct approach was to resist the diplomatic peer pressure and bar any council action until tempers cooled and more facts were available -- meaning at most a day or two's delay. This America could easily have done. Failure to withstand the short-term heat only feeds the impression of White House weakness, and will come back to haunt us.
Second, at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, America, joined only by Italy and the Netherlands in dissent, overwhelmingly lost a vote to establish an international investigation of the Gaza incident. Even as the Obama administration touted its success preventing a Security Council investigation, it was losing precisely the same issue in Geneva -- demonstrating why concessions in New York did absolutely nothing to stem the anti-Israeli tide. So much for Obama's idea that he could reform the palpably illegitimate Human Rights Council by having the United States rejoin it.
Third, just a few days previously, at the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference, the United States joined the consensus on a statement condemning Israel (which is not even a party to the treaty) and its nuclear program, while failing to condemn Iran, an NPT signatory that has been happily violating its treaty obligations. After the vote, National Security Adviser James Jones condemned the reference to Israel, utterly overlooking the fact that the Obama administration could readily have blocked it.
All three cases demonstrate deep-seated White House weakness.
But does it count as White House "weakness" if the White House wills it? That is, Obama is engaging in a drastic realignment of US foreign policy. Jettisoning our alliance with Israel is a key part of that realignment, and could only be seen as "weakness" if the intent were to preserve traditional US alliances. But that's not the intent, not by a long shot. Later, Bolton writes:
Third World radicals will doubtless build on Europe's position [against Israel] in their ongoing, decades-long efforts to delegitimize Israel entirely. There is equally little doubt that Obama himself is susceptible to these kinds of foreign pressures, especially when withstanding them might cause his own international image to suffer.
His own international image as a Third World radical, that is.
The harm caused by US weakness on the Gaza blockade issue will reach far beyond the Middle East. Worldwide, America's friends and allies increasingly realize that President Obama won't stand with them in controversial circumstances. Accordingly, those closest to us will calibrate their own interests more carefully to hedge against US weakness, step by step distancing themselves from us.
That will inexorably accelerate the pace of our debilitation -- thus actually further increasing Obama's self-imposed weakness, undermining US positions worldwide.
It's not "weakness" if "undermining US positions worldwide" is the White House policy point.
But it's horrifying.