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William Inboden: Professor Barack Obama


WORLD Radio - William Inboden: Professor Barack Obama

The former president seems to lecture everyone but himself about the conflict in the Middle East

President Barack Obama speaks during the American Legion national convention in Charlotte, N.C. Associated Press/Photo by Chuck Burton, File

NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Wednesday, November 15th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Up next: WORLD Opinions Commentator Will Inboden on the Democrats’ big mistake in the Middle East

WILLIAM INBODEN, COMMENTATOR: A decade ago during the Barack Obama presidency, I bemoaned that Obama’s background as a professor left him prone to “the endless second-guessing, the sanctimonious lecturing, the odd detachment from decisions of tremendous consequence” common in academia.

Well, old habits die hard. The former president is once again indulging his professorial pontifications. In early November, Obama delivered a sanctimonious mini-lecture about Hamas’ current war on Israel and the conflagration in the Middle East. Specifically, Obama pronounced that to understand the situation,you have to take in the whole truth, and you then have to admit nobody’s hands are clean—that all of us are complicit to some degree.”

On one level Christians can agree about the pervasiveness of sin in our fallen world. On another level, Obama seems to draw a moral equivalence between Hamas’ genocidal campaign against Israeli civilians and … what, exactly? On this he is unclear, but he implies that any past or present American support for Israel renders all parties equally guilty.

This “both-sides-ism” is appalling in its moral obtuseness. Since Obama equivocates, let me be clear: One side (Hamas) deliberately rapes and tortures innocent women and butchers infants, while urging the extermination of their enemies. The other side (Israel) does not.

The other outrage is that Obama ignores how his own policies emboldened our enemies, imperiled Israel, and weakened the United States in the Middle East.

Consider these facts.

In 2009, the Iranian people rose up in their courageous “Green Movement” against their tyrannical government. Obama ignored their appeals for support and instead pursued a nuclear agreement with the Iranian regime.

In 2011, Obama ignored the counsel of his military, intelligence, and diplomatic advisors, and withdrew the residual American troops from Iraq—leading directly to the rise of the Islamic State terrorist caliphate, the slaughter of thousands of innocent civilians, and an emboldened Iran.

In 2013, Obama abandoned his own “red line” and refused to punish the Assad regime in Syria for its use of chemical weapons—which also emboldened Iran.

In 2015, Obama implicitly welcomed Russia’s intervention in Syria to prop up the Assad regime, leading to the deaths of thousands more Syrian civilians and the expansion of Iranian power.

That same year, Obama signed the “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” with Iran that released some $100 billion in frozen assets to Iran for Tehran’s illusory promises to suspend its nuclear weapons program.

Obama hoped these policies would encourage Iran to become a responsible regional power. As he said in 2016, the tension in the region “requires us to say to our friends, as well as to the Iranians, that they need to find an effective way to share the neighborhood.”

This was the core strategic error in Obama’s Middle East policies: the belief that with enough inducements, Iran would become a stabilizing presence in the Middle East. Instead, rather than “sharing the neighborhood,” Iran and its terrorist proxies, Hezbollah and Hamas, sought then, and seek now, to dominate the neighborhood and destroy Israel.

For that reason and many others, the United States should continue to support Israel in its quest to destroy Hamas and to deter Iran.

I’m William Inboden.

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