Monday, September 29, 2008

McCain vs Obama On Israel: Worldviews Apart

Yoram Ettinger notes in a piece in YnetNews.com that the worldviews of past US presidents have been the key to how they have dealt with Israel. Thus, while Nixon did not owe anything to Jewish voters, his worldview led him to provide key arms to Israel during the 1973 War. On the other hand, despite Clinton's affinity towards Israel, his worldview led him to make Arafat a frequent welcome guest at the White House.

With this in mind, Ettinger takes a look at the worldviews of McCain and Obama and how they would influence their dealings with Israel. Here is a summary:

1. According to McCain, there is currently a war going on between Western democracies and Islamic terror. According to Obama, this conflict is with a radical Islamic minority. Thus, according to Obama there are viable options through diplomacy, talk and negotiations. Another consequence of this difference in worldview is that McCain sees Israel as a strategic ally, while Obama downplays that role.

2. According to Obama, the US must accommodate the UN, Western Europe and the Third World, which hold the West and Israel responsible for the problems of the Third World and the Arabs. McCain, on the other hand, says the US has a strong leadership role to play in the world--both ideologically and militarily.

3. According to Obama, Islamic terrorism is an issue for international law and terrorists should be brought to justice. According to McCain, this is a military challenge. The effect these differing worldviews would have on the US dealing with Israel is obvious.

4. Obama and his advisors assume that Islamic terrorism is a result of despair and poverty--compounded by erroneous US policy and its presence in Iraq. McCain sees Islamic terrorism as being driven by ideology, which conflicts with US values of freedom. Again, this impacts directly on how the US would deal with Israel.

5. Obama believes that the Palestinian issue is at the heart of Middle East violence and terrorism--requiring assertive US involvement and pressure on Israel.

Ettinger concludes:

Obama's worldview would be welcomed by supporters of an Israeli rollback to the 1949 ceasefire lines, including the repartitioning of Jerusalem and the opening of the "Pandora Refugees' Box." On the other hand, McCain's worldview adheres to the assumption that an Israeli retreat would convert the Jewish State from a power of deterrence to a punching bag, from a producer – to a consumer – of national security and from a strategic asset to a strategic burden in the most violent, volatile and treacherous region in the world.

Read the whole thing.

To claim that McCain and Obama have identical positions on Israel is to completely overlook how each of the candidates sees the world, instead being satisfied with the usual litany of glowing promises and fancy talk.

Bottom line: are Obama's statements about Iraq and US policy in general consistent with the defense of a strong Israel?

Crossposted on Soccer Dad

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