Ken Blackwell is Senior Fellow, Family Empowerment, and Bob Morrison is Senior Fellow for Policy Studies at Family Research Council. This article appeared in The American Thinker on February 3, 2014.
Israel is being urged to give up major portions of the West Bank of the Jordan River to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). That outfit is now known in Western media as the Palestinian Authority (PA), but it comprises the major terrorist group Fatah. That's the Arabic word for conquest. And conquest of all of the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea has been the goal of the PLO since its inception. Its founding charter calls for the destruction of Israel. And its logo shows a map of the region with no Israel indicated.
The goals of Fatah could not be clearer. And yet, successive U.S. administrations have heeded the siren song of peace in our time in a futile attempt to persuade a terrorist group to mend its ways. It's as if our own State Department thinks a tiger can be turned into a tabby cat if only we feed it enough American cream. U.S. taxpayers have been forced to spoon out billions in aid to the PLO since 1989 -- with no discernible move toward freedom or democracy by this rejectionist group. (A "rejectionist" is one who rejects any role in the Mideast for the Jewish state.)
Now, the Obama administration is fully engaged in applying pressure to the Israelis to give in and give way. President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry are committed to a so-called "two-state solution" to the Arab-Israeli conflict. (This is a conflict, by the way, that has been raging since at least the 1920s, when Arab riots against Jewish settlers in what was then called the Palestine Mandate, supervised by Great Britain, claimed hundreds of lives.)
At issue today is an emerging Obama-Kerry technical fix that would presumably use drones and electronic sensors to monitor Israel's border security. Thus, this administration will pledge to "have Israel's back."
Other countries have relied on such guarantees in the past. In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson promised French Premier Georges Clemenceau U.S. military intervention if Germany -- defeated in World War I -- ever arose to threaten exhausted France again. The French Guaranty Treaty, signed by Wilson and Britain's Prime Minister David Lloyd George, pledged the Western democracies to defend France if Germany ever violated the 35-mile de-militarized zone in the Rhineland. Wilson cared little or nothing about the French Guaranty Treaty, instead concentrating all his energies on the Versailles Treaty, which established his beloved League of Nations. When Wilson refused any compromise -- even compromises that France and Britain fully backed -- the Senate rejected that treaty. The French Guaranty Treaty was a casualty of the Executive-Legislative clash over the Versailles Treaty.
Seventeen years later, in 1936, Adolf Hitler ordered Nazi troops into the Rhineland, and Britain and France did nothing. Within four short years, Nazi troops were marching down the Champs-Elysées in Paris. France lost her independence trusting the word of a discredited U.S. administration.
Sixty years later, in the 1970s, South Vietnam was pressured by the Nixon administration into signing peace accords in Paris with the Communist regime in North Vietnam. President Nixon hailed the peace agreement, under which the U.S. would guarantee South Vietnam's independence and freedom. Nixon never abandoned South Vietnam, but when he faced mounting demands for his resignation over the Watergate scandal, he lost any clout he had on Capitol Hill. Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass) and Rep. Don Fraser (DFL-Minn.) led a successful push in Congress to repudiate Nixon and cut off all aid to South Vietnam. That unfortunate nation soon fell under the tank tracks of a North Vietnamese invasion. Communists laughed at U.S. weakness as they overran Saigon in April 1975. They consigned millions of South Vietnamese to enslavement and thousands to death.
What in the record of President Obama's administration should give the Israelis confidence that he will truly "have their back"? As Moshe Ya'alon, a leading Israeli defense spokesman in Israel's parliament, the Knesset, noted, "[s]ensors and drones are no substitute for the physical presence of Israel Defense Force soldiers. The Jordan Valley is vital to the security of Israel, and we cannot assent to third parties being there in our stead."
President Obama's habit of grand pronouncements -- followed up by less than grand actions -- is catching up with him. He announced with great fanfare the closure of the U.S. detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. He flaunted his now-famous Executive Order-signing pen and affixed his left-handed signature. It would be closed in just one year. That closure would be accomplished by presidential order by January 2010. Gitmo remains open.
Last summer, President Obama announced to the world that any use of chemical weapons by Syria's embattled ruler, Bashar al-Assad, constituted a "red line" that would demand U.S. action. But when reports stated that Assad had used such weapons -- and when the Obama administration loudly endorsed those reports -- no action was forthcoming. Today, the administration blames Assad's forces for "foot-dragging" on its agreements to dismantle chemical weapons. Barely 1% of these have been destroyed.
Is the Obama administration, like those of Woodrow Wilson and Richard Nixon, a discredited administration that cannot keep its pledges even if it wants to? That is not clear. President Obama was rather handily re-elected in 2012, even after taking a "shellacking" in the 2010 mid-term elections. Whether the voters will be paying strict attention to the Obama-Kerry attempts to arm-twist Israelis is also not clear.
Israelis have long memories. Back in 1967, they trusted to U.N. observers to "have their back" -- literally their back door -- with a peacekeeping force in the Sinai desert. Egypt's dictator Gamal Abdel Nasser ordered those peacekeepers out of the Sinai and proceeded to blockade Israel's only port on the critical Gulf of Aqaba. That act of war precipitated the Six-Day War of June 1967.
Israel has learned that when the fate of the Jewish people is at stake -- as it is now, with Iran racing toward nuclear weapons -- the Israelis cannot "outsource" their vital security. The U.S. should not be trying to force Israel to make dangerous concessions to the PLO -- or any others among their homicidal neighbors.