President Obama's first press conference given on 9 February 2009, was a mixed bag. On the positive side, he did touch on the need for the second half of the $700 billion Troubled Assets Relief Program to contain transparency vis-à-vis which banks get the money, how much they receive and what they do with it. He did say this half of the financial bailout would contain money, some $48 billion, for home mortgage relief; a way to stop the toxic assets (credit default swaps a.k.a. mortgage-backed securities) fusillade being triggered by mortgage defaults. And, while still holding out hope that his show of "civility and rational argument" will eventually bring recalcitrant Republicans along the path of reason, he did scold them by saying, "When it comes to how we approach the issue of fiscal responsibility, again, it's a little hard for me to take criticism from folks about this recovery package after they've presided over a doubling of the national debt. I'm not sure they have a lot of credibility when it comes to fiscal responsibility."
Kudos, Mr. President. Great job. But, as the questioning continued, Obama showed some serious flaws in his unthinking positions on terrorism and nuclear proliferation. Having already invoked Bush's "Axis of Evil" name-calling (a.k.a. Iran and North Korea and Afghanistan) in his Inaugural Address, he now stood before Americans and the world and demonstrated that we are endangered by his hard-line stances on two of the most harrowing threats we face.
And it became obvious by virtue of veteran UPI reporter Helen Thomas' questioning of the President.
Thomas: Mr. President, do you think that Pakistan and — are maintaining the safe havens in Afghanistan for these so-called terrorists? And, also, do you know of any country in the Middle East that has nuclear weapons?
Obama: ...we've got to work in a regional fashion to root out those safe havens. It's not acceptable for Pakistan or for us to have folks who, with impunity, will kill innocent men, women and children…
Well, Mr. Holbrooke is there, and that's exactly why he's being sent there, because I think that we have to make sure that Pakistan is a stalwart ally with us in battling this terrorist threat. With respect to nuclear weapons, you know, I don't want to speculate. What I know is this: that if we see a nuclear arms race in a region as volatile as the Middle East, everybody will be in danger. And one of my goals is to prevent nuclear proliferation generally. I think that it's important for the United States, in concert with Russia, to lead the way on this. And, you know, I've mentioned this in conversations with the Russian president, Mr. Medvedev, to let him know that it is important for us to restart the — the conversations about how we can start reducing our nuclear arsenals in an effective way so that…
Obama: … so that we then have the standing to go to other countries and start stitching back together the nonproliferation treaties that, frankly, have been weakened over the last several years. OK.
Thomas: Why do you have to speculate on who has…
Obama: All right. Sam Stein, Huffington Post. Where's Sam? Here. Go ahead.
Oh, no he di'n't…Oh, snap! Yes, he did! In essence, President Obama avoided the two ton elephant in a VW Beetle: Israel. He refused to answer Helen Thomas' straight-forward question because to answer would be to acknowledge the four-thousand pound pachyderm. The (OFF MIC) and (CROSSTALK) references above were instances of the Grand Dame of the Washington Press Corps pressing the President for an answer. Obama flat refused to answer her.
Of course, no country in the world will now listen to America about nonproliferation of nuclear weapons when Israel has approximately 200 warheads with missile capability to launch and deliver said lethal payloads. Israel's nuclear program is wholly outside legal standards. Israel does not "officially" admit to what everyone knows is true and has never been a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Israel is a rogue state of such dimension that if any other nation in the world had done what Israel has, regarding their nuclear build up, the theft of nuclear fissionable material, open-air testing of nukes and then lying about their weapons of mass destruction, they would have been demonized as a terrorist state and perhaps even been attacked; much like the Iraq scenario engaged in by the Bush regime (Shock and Awe as retribution for WMDs).
Which brings us to Obama's assertion that his administration will fight terrorism with everything it has. Should Likud hard-liner Binyamin Netanyahu win the Israeli election, teaming up with protégé (and former Kahane Kach party member) ultra-nationalist leader Avigdor Lieberman's party (Yisrael Beiteinu) to form a government, we can be assured that Israel will launch an air raid against Iran's nuclear facilities thereby yet again destabilizing the region and setting off a huge burst of righteous outrage from most of the rest of the world.
How does allowing Israel to engage in terroristic actions against another sovereign nation that is a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and which has allowed routine inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and therefore has every right to develop a peaceful nuclear program designed for civilian needs, defuse terrorism? How does Obama's assertion that the United States will do whatever it has to in order to stop proliferation of nuclear weapons sound to the world as he blatantly avoids Israel's nuclear weapons and missile delivery systems?
The hypocrisy is stunning.
On the other front, primarily Afghanistan, how does this speechifying square up with reality:
Obama: The bottom line though — and I just want to remember the American people, because this is going to be difficult — is this is a situation in which a region served as the base to launch an attack that killed 3,000 Americans.
And this past week, I met with families of those who were lost in 9/11, a reminder of the costs of allowing those safe havens to exist. My bottom line is that we cannot allow Al Qaeda to operate. We cannot have those safe havens in that region. And we're going to have to work both smartly and effectively, but with consistency in order to make sure that those safe havens don't exist.
I do not have yet a timetable for how long that's going to take. What I know is I'm not going to make — I'm not going to allow Al Qaeda or bin Laden to operate with impunity, planning attacks on the U.S. homeland.
Remember, folks…Al Qaeda public enemy number one, Osama bin Laden, himself stated unequivocally that Israel's occupation and usurpation of Palestine, Israel's lawless foray into Lebanon during 1982 murdering 20,000 civilians in the first days of unilateral bombardment (add now its Gazatrocity perpetrated on defenseless civilians) is the basis for Al Qaeda's vengeful actions. Unless and until the United States calls Israel to task, there will be a militant Islamic jihad against the West. Terroristic acts will continue unabated and a nuclear weapons race will accelerate. In effect, Obama's stances are continued "closed fist" approaches to the central issues of our time, the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and nuclear proliferation in the Middle East. In fact, it's almost as if the Israelis have Obama's ear as his stances are very likely to worsen the situation rather than help. Oh, that's right. Obama's closest aide, his Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, Israeli citizen, pro-Zionist and Chicago School advocate for taking advantage of financial crises to further agendas (see: "The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism") will lead Obama and, hence, the United States to do Israel's bidding at huge cost in American lives and American freedoms.
Mr. President, for the sake of America's future, stop listening to self-serving pro-Zionist viewpoints before it is too late for all of us. Bring change as promised to the discourse. Hold Israel to the same standards you demand of any other nation in the world. To do any less is to imperil this nation and the world.