White House Denies Netanyahu Request For Meeting Amid Signs of Increased U.S.-Israeli Tension

In another sign that things may not be going so well between Washington and Jerusalem, President Obama will not be meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu when he's in the United States.

President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will both be in New York later this month for the annual United Nations General Assembly Meeting, although they won’t be in the city at the same time. Nonetheless, the Obama White House has apparently denied a request from Netanyahu’s office for a meeting during the time the Israeli leader is in the country:

(Reuters) – The White House has rejected a request by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to meet President Barak Obama in the United States this month, an Israeli official said on Tuesday, after a row erupted between the allies over Iran’s nuclear programme.

An Israeli official told Reuters on condition of anonymity that Netanyahu’s aides had asked for a meeting when he visits the United Nations this month and “the White House has got back to us and said it appears a meeting is not possible. It said that the president’s schedule will not permit that.”

Netanyahu has met Obama on all but one of his U.S. trips since 2009. The president was on a foreign visit when the prime minister came to the United States in November 2010.

He argues that setting a clear boundary for Iran’s uranium enrichment activities and imposing stronger economic sanctions could deter Tehran from developing nuclear weapons and mitigate the need for military action.

This news comes at a time of what seems to be increased public tension between the Obama White House and Netanyahu, including what was reportedly a very tense meeting between Netanyahu, the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, and several Congressmen along with several public comments by the Israeli Prime Minister expressing what seems to be his frustration at American unwillingness to act more forcefully against Iran with regard to its nuclear program. For it’s part, the White House is denying that there is any snub of Netanyahu going on, blaming the inability to meet on the fact that the two men’s schedules are simply not compatible during the time the Prime Minister will be in the U.S.:

“The President arrives in New York for the UN on Monday, September 24th and departs on Tuesday, September 25th. The Prime Minister doesn’t arrive in New York until later in the week. They’re simply not in the city at the same time. But the President and PM are in frequent contact and the PM will meet with other senior officials, including Secretary Clinton, during his visit,” National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said in a written statement.

In all honestly, I’m not buying it. Yes the President of the United States is a busy man but his schedule is always subject to change and if there was really a belief that a meeting with the Prime Minister of Israel was necessary, then room could be made in the schedule somewhere. So it seems to me like there’s something going on here. The reports of the meeting with the Ambassador in Jerusalem would seem to indicated that Netanyahu is pressing Washington to put more definite pressure on Iran immediately and, indeed, today he made comments that seem to pretty much confirm that: 

Earlier on Tuesday, Netanyahu launched an unprecedented verbal attack on the U.S. government over its stance on the Iranian nuclear program.

“The world tells Israel ‘wait, there’s still time’. And I say, ‘Wait for what? Wait until when?’ Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don’t have a moral right to place a red light before Israel,” Netanyahu told reporters on Tuesday.

“Now if Iran knows that there is no red line. If Iran knows that there is no deadline, what will it do? Exactly what it’s doing. It’s continuing, without any interference, towards obtaining nuclear weapons capability and from there, nuclear bombs,” he said.

U.S. Department of State spokeswoman Victoria Nuland stressed again on Tuesday that the U.S.  administration doesn’t see public discussion of Iranian nuclear program and red lines as useful. “We don’t think it’s particularly useful to have those conversations in public. It doesn’t help the process and it doesn’t help the integrity of the diplomacy. To be standing here at the podium parsing the details of the Iranian nuclear program is not helpful to getting where we want to go,” she said, briefing the media.

The other point, of course, is that setting down a red line in public essentially means that the President would lock the United States into taking military action at the point it appeared those red lines had been crossed. In that regard, it strikes me as generally unwise to do something like that unless you’ve already made the decision to go to war. For example, with President George H.W. Bush gave Saddam Hussein a deadline by which his forces must be out of Kuwait in advance of Operation Desert Storm, he did so largely knowing that Saddam would not comply and that war would come once the deadline passed, which is exactly what happened. For many reasons, including the one’s I discussed yesterday, it would be unwise for the United States to lock itself into such a course of action vis a vis Iran at this point in time.

There’s always the possibility, of course, that something I speculated about months ago could actually be true. It could be possible that all of this U.S.-Israeli “tension” is a PR show for the benefit of the Iranians, although if that was the case I’m not entirely sure what the end game would be other than, perhaps, a scenario where we basically tell the Iranians that they need to start complying with demands regarding their nuclear program, otherwise we aren’t going to be able to hold the Israelis back any longer. If that’s not the case, if this is all for real, then it certainly does seem that the relationship between the United States and Israel is worse than it has been for quite some time.

Allahpundit, meanwhile, wonders about the domestic politics of all of this:

It strikes me as very uncharacteristic of Obama, whose top priority is always his own reelection, to deny Bibi a courtesy visit with an election just six weeks away, unless maybe O’s suddenly convinced that Israel really is going to attack in October. In that case, Obama’s calculus might shift: His top priority would be to prevent the U.S. from getting dragged into a war with Iran, which might involve attacks on U.S. bases in the region, skyrocketing oil prices, and lord knows what else. The political consequences of something that volatile would be hard to predict, so here he is signaling to the world that if Israel makes a move, they’re making it on their own. I’m … not too sure that’s going to convince the Iranians, but it might get enough attention among Israelis to turn up the domestic pressure on Netanyahu not to attack alone. They’re O’s real target audience here, I think. Surely he’s doing himself no favors electorally at home with a snub this prominent so late in the game.

I’ve got no doubt that Mitt Romney and other Republicans will pick up on this story as another sign of what they claim to be, rather falsely, Obama’s disregard for an ally, and such rhetoric will play very will with the Evangelical base of the GOP for whom obsessive support of whatever it is the Likud Party and its allies on the right side of Israeli politics want to do. I’m not so sure, though, that it’s going to have any real impact on the race itself. Despite Republican dreams, there’s little chance that the Jewish vote is going to be any less reliably Democratic than it has been for decades. Moreover, I’ve never seen any indication that this type of argument is likely to have much of an impact on independent and swing state voters who have indicated repeatedly that their top concerns in this election all revolve around the economy. Are any of those people really going to base their vote on the fact that the President didn’t meet with the Prime Minister of Israel? I don’t see it happening.

I don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes here, so I’m not going to say which side is right or wrong here. For one thing, it’s possible that neither of them are right, or that neither of them are wrong . Based on my observation, though, it does seem that Netanyahu has been beating the drums for war quite loudly in recent weeks. Whether this is a bluster or a reflection of the fact that Israel is close to a decision that could result in a unilateral attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities is something only he knows himself. Based on this news, though, I think its pretty clear we can expect more strident rhetoric from the Israelis. Whether it amounts to anything is something we’ll just have to wait and see.

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FILED UNDER: Barack Obama, Campaign 2012, Middle East, Politicians, US Politics, World Politics, , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Anderson says:

    My guess is this: Netanyahu’s public comments sure look like an effort to affect the election. NO WAY is Obama going to accept an attack on Iran before Election Day, or even set any meaningful “red lines.”

    Netanyahu knows this, but shoots his mouth off anyway. The White House is not amused. So when Bibi wants a meeting, guess what? No meeting for him. It has no substantive significance (Israel has oodles of ways to communicate with the U.S.), but if the PM is acting out and dissing Obama during the campaign homestretch, then Obama will show his displeasure.

    That’s how diplomacy is played.

  2. Blue Shark says:

    I do believe that Obama has become tired of being a shill for a radical right-wing propaganda machine in Israel.

    …Now if he can do the same here in the USA as regards Boenher and McConnell … well that would be real progress.

  3. stonetools says:

    Apparently, Obama didn’t understand that a request for a meeting for Netenyahu was really a command from a superior. Clearly Obama needs to correct his attitude.

  4. michael reynolds says:

    Allahpundit’s sneer about Mr. Obama putting re-election first is partisan drivel from an increasingly irrelevant blogger. He has no basis for that statement, or at least no evidence that Obama is any different than any other president.

    The timing is wrong for this to be a co-ordinated US-Israeli squeeze play on Iran. I think this is Netanyahu trying in his usual crude, frankly rather stupid fashion, to bully Obama and the United States into war.

    This is just intolerable. If Congress were not composed of spineless weasels in hock to either the Israel lobby or the Evangelicals they’d join with the President and call out this behavior. This is not Israel as ally, this is Israel as manipulator.

    No. No war for Bibi. This is a despicable effort on the part of Likud. If Likud wants a war so badly, let them fight it without US support.

  5. scott says:

    There is an interesting aspect that may come around. If the Republicans (backed by the pro-Israeli right wing) decides to side with the Israelis against the President, will this be viewed by the American public as siding with Israel against the United States? Or the opposite? I know that most Americans view Israel as an firm ally but how far does that go?

    On the other hand, I wonder what the Israeli people think about Netanyahu playing games with its firmest ally, the United States?

    Personally, I think a conflict with Iran will end very badly for just about everybody.

  6. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Can you fathom the reaction among the media-academe-chattering classes cabal if Bush in ’04 brusquely had declined a meeting with Chirac?? Yikes.

    In any event, it goes without saying that Netanyahu would prefer a new occupant of the Oval Office, for reasons so numbingly obvious only the punditocracy could miss them. It also goes without saying that Obama need not care a lick about the Jewish vote.

    As far as the inevitable war with Iran is concerned, well, that’s sort of the whole point: It’s inevitable. It’s not a question of whether. The only remaining questions are who, when and who wins and loses.

  7. MarkedMan says:

    How short memories are. Has everyone forgotten that Bibi took his last meeting as an opportunity to berate our president and then make a very public showing of support for O’Bama’s political opposition? Israel has chosen sides in the American political system. . No one should be meeting with this guy because no one should be rewarding a foreign country who meddles in our domestic affairs.

  8. michael reynolds says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    No, war is not inevitable. People like you told us war with the USSR was “inevitable” for 40 years.

  9. scott says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: I suspect no one wins and everybody loses.

  10. michael reynolds says:

    @MarkedMan:

    I agree. This is the thanks we get as a country for backing Israel for decades. We get contemptuous meddling. We get this paranoid Bibi and his non-combatant, welfare-queen ultra-orthodox and settlers trying to get us to fight a war even the Israeli military knows is stupid.

    Hey, I just found an easy annual saving of $3 billion dollars.

  11. wr says:

    @michael reynolds: “No, war is not inevitable. People like you told us war with the USSR was “inevitable” for 40 years. ”

    After making sure that “people like him” would never have to do any of the fighting.

  12. anjin-san says:

    As far as the inevitable war with Iran is concerned, well, that’s sort of the whole point: It’s inevitable.

    Something tells me you have not been anywhere near a recruiting station.

  13. Doubter4444 says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:
    Dear lord that’s a stupid comment.
    This: Can you fathom the reaction among the media-academe-chattering classes cabal if Bush in ’04 brusquely had declined a meeting with Chirac?? Yikes.
    Is a complete non sense statement and has nothing to do with the post,
    and this:
    As far as the inevitable war with Iran is concerned, well, that’s sort of the whole point: It’s inevitable. It’s not a question of whether. The only remaining questions are who, when and who wins and loses.

    Is insanity. I don’t get riled up by much but the blitheness with which you assume a war that will fundamentally alter the course of this country in vastly bigger ways than Iraq and Afghanistan is contemptible. Really.

  14. tps says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Big deal. Netanyahu probably remembers how the Clinton administration declared war on him and all but campaign openly for Ehud Barak in 1999.

  15. stonetools says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    As far as the inevitable war with Iran is concerned, well, that’s sort of the whole point: It’s inevitable. It’s not a question of whether. The only remaining questions are who, when and who wins and loses.

    Tell you what, Tsar, if war is inevitable, will you sign up for the infantry? Because my son-in-law and the married, 20 year old son of a family friend are both in the US Army and they could really use the help from a warrior like yourself.

  16. @Doubter4444:

    But, but, but … he’s French!

  17. Ron Beasley says:

    It’s a bitch when the tail can’t wag the dog anymore – it’s about time.

  18. Ron Beasley says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    As far as the inevitable war with Iran is concerned, well, that’s sort of the whole point: It’s inevitable. It’s not a question of whether. The only remaining questions are who, when and who wins and loses.

    If it’s inevitable than so is the collapse of the world economy and possibly civilization as we know it. And there will be NO winners.

  19. tps says:

    @stonetools:

    Why infantry? We’re not going to invade Iran. How hard is it to drop some B83’s?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B83_nuclear_bomb

  20. scott says:

    @tps: I’m sure your comment meant to be facetious. Right?

  21. Stonetools says:

    Isn’t it time for Jan to come and ask how many of us are pro Jewish or pro Israel?

  22. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: Fwck Israel and REALLY fwck Bibi. I am an American. I am for America. You like Israel so much???? Move there.

  23. bk says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    It also goes without saying that Obama need not care a lick about the Jewish vote

    Ahhh, those dumbass single-issue voting “Jews”. Well, guess what? I’m Jewish. And I’m voting for Obama. And I know a lot of “Jews”, and 99% of them are voting for Obama. And I am sure that all of them would agree with me that your statement was moronic.

  24. Jeremy R. says:

    @Doug:

    This news comes at a time of what seems to be increased public tension between the Obama White House and Netanyahu, including what was reportedly a very tense meeting between Netanyahu, the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, and several Congressmen along with several public comments by the Israeli Prime Minister expressing what seems to be his frustration at American unwillingness to act more forcefully against Iran with regard to its nuclear program.

    Alon Liel, former top Israeli foreign ministry official, writing for Haaretz:

    http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/diplomatic-dressing-down-part-ii.premium-1.463773

    “It appears to be an attempt to help the Republicans in the upcoming election. The entire show, under the patronage of Rogers, is meant to prove to the American public, and in particular to the Jewish community, that the rift between Israel and the United States is more significant and deeper than we thought.”

    And from Defense Minister Ehud Barak, today, seeming to chastise Netanyahu:

    http://www.jpost.com/Headlines/Article.aspx?id=284708

    “Despite the common purpose [between the two countries], there are certain differences between Israel and the US with regard to certain positions. But these are best dealt with behind closed doors,” Barak said.

    “Do not forget that the US is Israel’s main ally. We have intimate relations in the intelligence field, and the US is Israel’s most important supporter in the security field,” Barak said.

    “The foundation of this relationship is a long standing friendship and shared values between Israel and the American people,” he said.

    “In spite of the differences, and the importance of maintaining Israel’s right to act independently, we have to remember the importance of our partnership with the US we should [do] everything possible not to harm it,” he said.

  25. bill says:

    well, netanyahu is no dave letterman- sucks for him. anyhow, who cares- israel knows who has their back and can do what they need to.

  26. tps says:

    @scott:

    In a word: No.

    But do I mean to use them on Tehran? Nope.

    Worried about bunker busters not being powerful enough to crack the bunkers? Put a 2-5kt warhead in them. Set off high altitude EMP devices to fry electronics. Their effects are very over stated in that they will not burn everything out and send them back to the stone age. However they will cause a fair amount of damage without much aftereffects. The B83’s will slag anything that might be left over if needed.

  27. @tps:

    By all means, use the B83s

    Because God knows, we are the only nuclear power, and will be the only nuclear power for all time. Because we know that our casual use of nukes will not in any way set a precedent. We won’t be lowering the bar for nuclear attacks, be they full on or merely dirty bombs, on ourselves.

    (and yes, that was facetious)

  28. PJ says:

    The blow back from nuking a country to make sure that they don’t acquire nukes (or actually, in this case, stopping their uranium enrichment activities) will be massive.

    On one hand, there will be massive boycotts against Israel and the US.

    Oil prices would sky rocket.

    Pakistan has about 100 nukes, are you sure all of those can be easily secured?

  29. @PJ:

    Pakistan has about 100 nukes, are you sure all of those can be easily secured?

    I wasn’t aware the number was that high, but exactly. The thing that makes nukes off limits is that they are off limits for everyone.

    If the US or Israel nuked Iran of course people in Pakistan would think it fair and square to hand off a nuke to their friends.

  30. Ernieyeball says:

    @tps: Apparently you do not buy gasoline…I suspect none of the food you eat is cultvated, harvested, processed and transported using petroleum either.
    Don’t worry, you won’t need any of this anyway.
    Just get your self a 10 gallon hat because we are going to let you ride the first bomb straight to HELL!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JlSQAZEp3PA

  31. grumpy realist says:

    If the US uses nukes, period, then bye-bye any cooperation from Japan. On anything.

    I sort of hope that the US finally loses patience with Israel and says “ok, you’re on your own.” We’ll move all the Christian Identity fruitcakes there and they can run around trying to convert Teh Joos before the Rapture and piss everyone else off.. If it ever gets down to a match between our fanatics and there fanatics I’m rooting for injuries.

  32. grumpy realist says:

    gahhh….their fanatics, not there fanatics. Stupid auto-correct.

  33. tps says:

    @john personna:

    There is one nation that is probably already on the list to receive some of them: Saudi Arabia. They have funded Pakistan’s nuclear program for decades. It might also explain just why the Saudi’s have medium range missiles they bought from the Chinese. They’re not terribly accurate. With non-nuclear warheads that is.

  34. @tps:

    I wouldn’t worry about nations. I’d worry about who in Pakistani intelligence was hiding Bin Laden, and who they know in his crew.

    After a nuclear attack on Iran you can be sure they’d be asking for a suitcase bomb, and resistance by sane Pakistanis would be reduced.

  35. Lynda says:

    Israel is an important ally and has genuine security threats that should not be underestimated. However it is about time Bibi stopped having it all his own way.

    All relationships are based on give and take but most of us have known people who seem real good at the “take” part and seem to disappear at any of the “give” part and even go so far as to accept your help then badmouth you behind your back.

    Some of Israel’s leaders seem to have the same attitude – happily take US money, military tech and votes at the UN but will run false flag operations http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/01/13/false_flag and steal US secrets http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_Pollard and go crying to Congress whenever they don’t get everything they want from the President.

    Most of us don’t bear these “friends” any ill will and will come to their aid in time of genuine need – but we are tired of constantly dancing to their tune and have learnt to screen their calls.

  36. Stan says:

    @Lynda: Well said!

  37. michael reynolds says:

    @bk:

    I’m also (ethnically) Jewish, a strong supporter of Israel, an Obama voter, and oppose this reckless jackass in Israel dragging us into a war.

    Bibi Netanyahu is trading the support of large parts of the US Jewish community for the support of Evangelicals whose main interest in Israel is as a precipitating cause of Armageddon. He’s alienating people who really care about Jews for people that hope to be raptured early enough to get a good seat to watch Jews being roasted in hell.

    Netanyahu is a fool, dangerous to both Israel and the United States.

  38. michael reynolds says:

    @tps:

    While looking up weapons systems on Wikipedia why not stroll around to some of the other articles. Learn something about history, about diplomacy, about international relations, politics. In other words, broaden your scope beyond the masturbatory elements of current events.

  39. MarkedMan says:

    And for those who are running around championing the “inevitable war” with Iran, and, my god the use of nukes in it, just remember these are the same clowns who told us we would be out of Iraq in a few months and would be welcomed with open arms. That Iraq and Afghanistan could be nation-built in no time using CATO Institute interns (I am not making this up). And, here’s the thing to remember, the vast majority never admitted just how horribly wrong they were nor learned from their tragic errors. So what do we know of these Bolton-Cheney-ites?
    – They are distainful of the p***ies who aren’t man enough to go to war
    – They are led by people who have never been to war and have no children who have ever been to war.
    – They are completely unable to separate reality from fantasy when evaluating the consequences of a war
    – They borrow the money to pay for the war so the public doesn’t ever understand the financial consequences
    – They want to do it again.

    God save us all.

  40. MarkedMan says:

    Oh, and let me add to my tirade above:
    – They were able to elect an easily manipulated, flight suited ‘here’s my junk’ strutting, man-boy as president, who in turn let his inner blowhard have free rein. Randians, Libertarians, and Bolton-Cheneyites: the 13 year old boys of politics. Except the US doesn’t have a mother and father who will bail them out when things go boom.

  41. Robert C says:

    Bravo BHO, Bravo!

  42. LessSaid says:

    Just a touch tired of the U.N. being used for one purpose. Human Rights Commission? The U.N. is the ultimate arbiter. Atomic Energy Commission? An evil and subtle plot by Jews. And corporatists.

    There’s always the possibility, of course, that something I speculated about months ago could actually be true. It could be possible that all of this U.S.-Israeli “tension” is a PR show for the benefit of the Iranians, although if that was the case I’m not entirely sure what the end game would be other than, perhaps, a scenario where we basically tell the Iranians that they need to start complying with demands regarding their nuclear program, otherwise we aren’t going to be able to hold the Israelis back any longer.

    Well … Alex Jones has a radio program you might want to look into. Pamphlets are possible, after medication and tea.

    Bibi Netanyahu is trading the support of large parts of the US Jewish community for the support of Evangelicals whose main interest in Israel is as a precipitating cause of Armageddon.

    Yep. Absolutely. Your insight actually baffles me. Yet you deign to spread your word here free of charge and so masterfully. Never a thought that you might be incorrect. You must be the best (and best informed) person ever. You, also, I am tired of.

    Boyd was right. Balloon Juice Light. And it is all your fault, Doug.* You shape your posts looking for approval from the people who will hate you no matter what you do. Like a little girl’s first day at High School. Remember when you had your own blog and very few commenters? You got to say what you liked. Not like now when you tailor your posts to what the commenters might like. Assuming you had an identity, it’s long away.

    *Joyner gets a pass, for he was dealing with a new addition to his family. Not too much of a pass. He gave the keys to an easily impressionable class clown who loves attention more than thought. It’s not his fault that a good blog turned into a stupid one. It’s kind of his fault for letting it go so far.#failaconis.

  43. bill says:

    meanwhile, our embassies are under attack in libya and egypt, so much for free speech.

  44. michael reynolds says:

    @LessSaid:

    Was there some content to that remark? Could you point it out?

  45. Dazedandconfused says:

    @Jeremy R.:

    Ehud is the “good cop”.

    I suspect with just a couple months to go to the election, Obama has had his fill of Bibi. If he loses, he’s fine and dandly about never having to talk to Bibi again. Ever. In the meantime, Obama can get along just fine without another bible lecture about the story of Esther from that guy, thank you..

    Now, if Bibi wants to come to him it might be different, but no way is Obama going to change his plans to go back to NY to meet Bibi. No. Effing. Way.

    .

  46. tps says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Of course I have. A person we are lacking these days is a Cardinal Richelieu who knew how to juggle alliances or the lack there of. How he saved and ensured France’s rise during the Thirty Years War was masterful.

  47. Andre Kenji says:

    1-) I think that Bibi has bigger political problems in Israel. There is insatisfaction with the standards of life among the youth, there is that large Russian populace that are military aggressive and there are the Orthodox.

    2-) The problem is that most Iranian nuclear instalations are hidden inside the mountains, and Iran is larger than Iraq. Israel could not halt the Iranian Nuclear program alone. That would require a international coaltion to do that, and there are very few people outside the Weekly Standard newsroom willing to do that.

  48. Lynda says:

    @tps:

    A more recent example would be World War 2 and the relations between Churchill, De Gaulle and FDR. American involvement in WW2 was essential in the eventual survival of both Britain and France as sovereign countries.

    Churchill understood the American reluctance to enter another European war with high casualties, especially after the economic collapse of the Great Depression, and built a good working relationship with FDR. This continued during FDR’s 1940 reelection campaign despite his pledge to “not send American boys into any foreign wars” and during this reelection most of England was suffering under dreadful bombardment with the Blitz.

    In contrast De Gaulle had a highly fraught relationship with FDR which got so bad that he did not trust him with Allied invasion plans. Despite initial good relations De Gaulle also managed to alienate Churchill and his wife once cautioned “General, you must not hate your friends more than you hate your enemies.” De Gaulle himself stated famously, “France has no friends, only interests”

    Netanyahu’s behavior is much closer to De Gaulle’s than Churchill’s. This might be a genuine belief he is working in Israel’s best interest (the same as De Gaulle believed he was working in France’s) but is it any wonder that he and Obama are not BFF?

    Perhaps if Bibi acted a little bit more like Churchill – who I doubt anyone would call a pushover or a sell out – he might be able to get a meeting.

  49. MarkedMan says:

    @Lynda: Good points and an interesting read. I think Bibi may be beyond DeGaulle. He has actually taken it upon himself to all but publicly endorse a sitting president’s opponent. At his last US meeting he went to the press afterward and conducted a public lecturing to our President. Yes, it played well to the ‘Obama is a Marxist” whack-jobs, the ones who can’t see how bad it is for the US for a foreign leader to be able to play domestic politics to his advantage. I guess it also impresses the “Jay-sus is Coming! The Rapture is Here!” crowd. But there will be hell to pay eventually for this attitude. Even if Romney gets elected he knows what kind of an “ally” Bibi is. Didn’t Machiavelli say that the first person to kill when you overthrow the crown are the traitors to that crown who helped you? They are easy to kill because no one loves a traitor, and you know without doubt that they will have the tendency to turn traitor.

    I think the number of nay votes and the booing that occurred at the DNC has been underplayed. Even people that are extremely pro-Israel have had just about enough when the elected head of the Israeli government is sliming their chosen candidate for president.

  50. dennis says:

    Oh, Doug. Are you giving yourself headaches again? That wind-twisting has got to be causing you some pain.

    In all honestly, I’m not buying it. Yes the President of the United States is a busy man but his schedule is always subject to change and if there was really a belief that a meeting with the Prime Minister of Israel was necessary…

    Maybe no one believes a meeting with the PM is necessary. It could be as simple as that.

    The other point, of course, is that setting down a red line in public essentially means that the President would lock the United States into taking military action at the point it appeared those red lines had been crossed. In that regard, it strikes me as generally unwise to do something like that unless you’ve already made the decision to go to war.

    See Johnson & Tierney, The Rubicon Theory of War: How the Path to Conflict Reaches the Point of No Return.

    Then, there’s this:

    http://news.antiwar.com/2012/09/06/israeli-leaders-dial-back-iran-war-rhetoric-after-meetings-with-us-military-officials/

    I’m just saying; maybe everyone is making a mountain out of a molehill. At least, that better be the case!

    http://news.antiwar.com/2012/09/11/poll-shows-overwhelming-us-opposition-to-attacking-iran/

  51. Lynda says:

    @MarkedMan:

    I think Bibi may be beyond DeGaulle

    I agree – France was occupied by the Nazi’s and DeGaulle was angry and frustrated about trying to liberate it which I am sure played some part in his attitude. Despite the real threat of Iran having a nuclear weapon, Israel is not yet in such desperate straits as Vichy France or London in the Blitz.

    Even if Romney gets elected he knows what kind of an “ally” Bibi is

    Yes, apparently Bush “went absolutely ballistic” about the false flag operations and Israeli/US cooperation seems to have been trending one way over a few administrations. Might be one reason why Israel is not part of the Five Eyes group despite the need for Middle East intel http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UKUSA_Agreement.

    America will always have Israel’s back in a bar fight but a little less eagerness to go out for a drink with “friends” like Bibi might save us from having to pick out beer glass from our hair whilst wondering how we ended up with the bar tab.

  52. Jeremy R. says:

    RNC Chair Reince Priebus jumps the shark:

    https://twitter.com/Reince/status/245733811747422208

    “Obama sympathizes with attackers in Egypt. Sad and pathetic.”

  53. Jeremy R. says:

    @Jeremy R.:

    Actually, Mitt Romney didn’t acquit himself any better, injecting himself & domestic election politics into an ongoing international incident (where at least one state department staffer has died), again on 9/11:

    http://www.buzzfeed.com/mckaycoppins/romney-balances-911-civility-and-outraged-cairo-r

    Romney: “It’s disgraceful that the Obama Administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.”

    So both baselessly accused the POTUS & his administration of sympathizing with the killers who just murdered one of his own.

    Beyond contempt.

  54. Stonetools says:

    Romney and the RNC should just shut up about anything foreign policy. Lives are at stake.

  55. PJ says:

    @Jeremy R.:

    So both baselessly accused the POTUS & his administration of sympathizing with the killers who just murdered one of his own.

    @Stonetools:

    Romney and the RNC should just shut up about anything foreign policy. Lives are at stake.

    Is Romney and the RNC going to double down or back down?

    The US ambassador to Libya has died after an attack by militiamen on the US consulate in the eastern city of Benghazi, reports say.

    Ambassador Christopher Stevens is said to be among four US officials killed in a protest over a US-produced film that is said to insult the Prophet Muhammad.

  56. LessSaid says:

    @michael reynolds: Sure. You are a purportedly intelligent person. As are you all, all intelligent persons. Generalizations, you see, are exceptionally heinous except when you do them in your smug manner. Nothing that applies to them could possibly apply to you. Countless examples of you tarring broad population pools exist.It’s understandable that you choose not to look in mirrors, but apply the same rigor to your statements that you assign to everyone else’s. Or not. Good yards of what you write appear to be blanket condemnations from an unsophisticated thinker with no useful … anything.

    The critique was of the shape and nature of the blog since James handed the keys to Doug. Doug’s a puss who writes for his audience, and his audience is goofy whingers like you. Can you find any posts that criticize the current administration? Recently? Of course not. Can you find them that attack the alternative? In spades. With you commenting approvingly on them. Apparently unaware of the echo chamber (a fairly good tune by the Hoodoo Gurus) that is reinforced.

    Remember when James posted more than Doug? Remember when Dodd used to write here? Remember when Knapp used to think he could get away with spurious and often blatantly wrong statements and be called onto the carpet? Remember when Taylor didn’t see racism in everything? Of course not. Carpetbagging clowns, pretty much what the commenters are these days. Wouldn’t have a problem with it if you actually had something to say other than “Bush Bad, Conservative Thought Bad” except that the folks here can’t seem to stand up for what they believe and choose to write for the lowest denominator. Which would be you.

    At least mantis thinks before he types. He’s a pretty heinous broad-brusher as well, but admits that not everyone who doesn’t think like he does is evil. You are a hack and diminish conversation.

  57. Anderson says:

    Aaaaand the boys have a phone call, all is good. Some Israeli aide probably got it through Bibi’s skull that with Libyans and Egyptians going berserk, not a good time to be generating Middle East headlines.

    As for Romney’s latest lies, the man is beneath contempt. Shame it was that ambassador killed and not Mitt’s lying ass. What scum.

  58. Barry says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: “Can you fathom the reaction among the media-academe-chattering classes cabal if Bush in ’04 brusquely had declined a meeting with Chirac?? Yikes.”

    Like to try some actual content in your posts?

  59. Rick Almeida says:

    @LessSaid:

    Remember when Dodd used to write here?

    To be fair, Doug at his worst is a significant improvement over Dodd’s median post.

  60. dennis says:

    The disingenuity of the Right knows no bounds. Romney et al. have gone on for nearly four years now about Pres. Obama’s “apology tour,” wrongfully and cynically accusing him of bowing down to foreign leaders. Yet, the president, for whatever reason, doesn’t meet with the Israeli PM, and the Right is all up in arms because Obama won’t self-deprecate and change his itinerary to meet with the man.

    So, Right-wing acolytes, what’s it going to be: the President is the leader of the free world and capitulates to no one; or the President should acquiesce to foreign leaders’ demands? Despite your duplicitous tendencies, you can’t have it both ways.

    @LessSaid:

    “Doug’s a puss…”
    “ghoofy whingers”
    “Carpetbagging clowns”

    Wow, dude. That sure contributed mightily to the conversation.