What Would Eisenhower Do?
In November 1956, President Eisenhower, enraged he had not been forewarned of their invasion of Egypt, ordered the British, French, and Israelis to get out of Suez and Sinai. They did as told. How far we have fallen from the America of Ike and John Foster Dulles has been on painful display this March.
An Israeli leader told a joint session of Congress that President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran is stupid and dangerous and must be rejected. Congress gave him 40 ovations.
Bibi Netanyahu then went home and told the world there will be no Palestinian state, and was re-elected in a smashing victory. “Perhaps it’s time for Americans, especially those in the White House, to recognize this new reality of Israeli politics,” says the Wall Street Journal. We should restore “Israeli confidence in U.S. support.”
Excuse me? Who is the senior partner here? Who needs whom more? Israel is entitled to choose its own leaders, who are entitled to make their own policy. But that goes for us as well.
We are today headed for a collision with Israel as serious as Suez ’56, and we are about to see what Barack Obama is made of. The days of self-delusion are over. For was there ever a doubt where Bibi stood? In 1994, he denounced the Oslo Accords in a speech interrupted by chants that Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was a “traitor.”
Did anyone think Bibi, who opposed Ariel Sharon withdrawal of Israeli settlers from Gaza, was going to withdraw tens of thousands of Jewish settlers from Judea and Samaria, share Jerusalem with a Palestinian state, or allow the return of Arab refugees to what Bibi says is the “Jewish state”?
“Arab voters are coming out in droves to the polls. Left-wing organizations are busing them out,” said Bibi on his Facebook page in Hebrew, according to a translation by Haaretz. That’s the real Bibi. We have clarity now.
What should Obama do?
Drop the petulance, call and congratulate Bibi on his election and tell him we are proceeding with the Iran deal—if we conclude it accords with our interests. And if he attempts to sabotage or scuttle the deal, he should expect political and economic retaliation. Bibi is looking out for Israel first. America needs a president like Ike who will start looking out for America first.
It appears we are at a moment of truth worldwide.
Our freeloading friends in NATO, only four of whom spend 2 percent of GDP on defense, and some are cutting that, should be told that the days of Uncle Sam carrying the lion’s share of their defense are over. Ukraine and Crimea are on their continent not ours.
The Soviet Empire is dead; the Soviet Union has ceased to exist. A Russia smaller than it has been in centuries, with half the population the USSR had at the end of the Cold War, is primarily their problem not ours. If the Germans, Brits, French, and Italians will not man up and pay for their defense, let them pay tribute to powerful neighbors the way other fat, rich, and feeble nations have historically done.
The Chinese are launching an Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank as a rival to the U.S.-dominated World Bank. Despite our pleas, Britain, France, Italy, and Germany are rushing to sign on as charter members. South Korea and Australia may follow.
Our allies are looking to pick up contracts for the construction projects for the new Chinese “silk road” from Asia to Europe. The AIIB will have $50 billion in startup cash, a pittance to a China sitting on a hoard of $3 to $4 trillion in cash reserves, from decades of huge trade surpluses run at the expense of the United States.
Virtually all our Asian allies do a larger share of their trade with China than with us. They want to buy from and sell to China, and stay in Beijing’s good graces. But if menaced by China, they want the United States obligated by treaty to come and fight for them. One understands why this is in their interests. But why is it in ours?
Nor is the Middle East any different.
The Turks, Saudis, and Gulf Arabs want us to finish off ISIS, whom they were lately aiding, but also Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran. They want us to fight them all, but disagree on whom the Americans should fight first.
Last week, John Kerry said he might talk with Syria’s Bashar Assad, and was denounced by the Saudis. The State Department backed off. But who are the Saudis to be telling us to whom we may talk when coping with the Islamic State?
In the Eisenhower era, Dulles spoke of an “agonizing reappraisal” of our alliances, a cost-benefit analysis of what America was getting out of them, compared with what we were contributing to them.
Is there a single U.S. alliance today that would survive a cost-benefit analysis like that?
Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority. Copyright 2015 Creators.com.