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May 22, 2015 / 4 Sivan, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘George W. Bush’

U.S. Presidents And Israel

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

Several years ago the Monitor ranked the U.S. presidents (from Truman through Clinton) in terms of their relationship with Israel. Since then, readers occasionally have asked whether time and added perspective have had any effect on the list and where Barack Obama would place on it.

The following is a somewhat updated ranking, subjective and open to argument as such things always are. It goes from worst (12) to best (1) and is based on an overall assessment of a president’s attitude, actions and consistency as well as whether his decisions and policies were a help or hindrance to Israel.

12. Jimmy Carter (1977-1981): He mediated between Egypt and Israel at Camp David, but Anwar Sadat’s initiative had caught him completely by surprise after he’d foolishly agreed to bring the Soviets into Mideast talks. He never hid his intense dislike for Menachem Begin and the Carter foreign policy team was unusually ill disposed toward Israel.

11. Dwight Eisenhower (1953-1961): Though the atmosphere improved a bit during Ike’s final three years in office, the relationship between the U.S. and Israel ranged from chilly to lukewarm throughout his tenure.

10. Barack Obama (2009-): Appears to lack any instinctive warmth toward Israel and has had an adversarial relationship with Prime Minister Netanyahu, but he’s maintained strong Israel-U.S. defense and intelligence ties and last year stood against the world at the UN to prevent the unilateral declaration of an independent Palestinian state.

9. George H.W. Bush (1989-1993): His administration successfully pushed the UN to rescind its 1975 “Zionism equals racism” resolution and rushed anti-missile batteries to Israel during the Gulf War, but his 1991 lectern-pounding attack on pro-Israel lobbyists and the hostility toward Israel exhibited by his secretary of state overshadow any positives.

8. Gerald Ford (1974-1977): The Kissinger-Ford “reassessment’’ of American policy caused a strain for several months, but U.S.-Israel relations remained strong for the duration of Ford’s brief term.

7. John Kennedy (1961-1963): Viewed in his day as friendly toward Israel, his Mideast policy was in fact nearly as “even-handed’’ as Eisenhower’s. Constantly hectored Israel concerning its nuclear program and in 1962 wrote a craven letter to Egypt’s Nasser pleading for friendship and implying that he – Kennedy – had supported Eisenhower’s tough line toward Israel during the 1956 Sinai war.

6. Bill Clinton (1993-2001): After enjoying an excellent relationship with the Rabin-Peres Labor government, he showed a much colder face to Likud prime minister Netanyahu. Showered terror chief Yasir Arafat with respect and affection, inviting him to the White House more often than any other foreign leader.

5. Harry Truman (1945-1953): Supported partition in 1947 and statehood in 1948 but refused to sell arms to Israel and whatever economic aid he extended was belated and miserly. His recognition of Israel would have been meaningless had the Arabs prevailed militarily.

4. Ronald Reagan (1981-1989): Probably felt personally closer to Israel than any other president save George W. Bush, but his administration had a number of serious policy disagreements with various Israeli governments through the 1980s. Nevertheless, U.S.-Israel ties grew immeasurably stronger during his two terms in office.

3. Lyndon Johnson (1963-1969): Dramatically increased economic aid and upgraded military sales to Israel. In contrast to Eisenhower in 1956, did not squeeze Israel to unilaterally retreat after the Six-Day War.

2. George W. Bush (2001-2009): Despite being the first U.S. president to call unambiguously for an independent Palestinian state, he had a visceral affection for Israel. Former treasury secretary Paul O’Neill disclosed that just ten days after his inauguration Bush met with his national security team and declared: “We’re going to correct the imbalances of the [Clinton] administration on the Mideast conflict. We’re going to tilt back towards Israel.”

1. Richard Nixon (1969-1974): His support for Israel was not as sentimental as that of Lyndon Johnson or as heartfelt as that of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, but the bottom line is he saved the state from catastrophe in the 1973 Yom Kippur War with a massive month-long arms airlift in the face of European non-cooperation and a retaliatory oil embargo imposed on the U.S. by Arab states. That alone qualifies him for the number one spot on a list of this kind.

Rubin Reports: Bush and Obama Together At Last – In Misunderstanding the Middle East

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

http://www.rubinreports.blogspot.com/2012/05/bush-and-obama-together-at-last-in.html

In one of his first statements since leaving office, former President George W. Bush remarked on Middle East developments in an article, “The Arab Spring and American Ideals,” in the Wall Street Journal, May 18. The former president reflects certain American misconceptions about the Middle East that are starting to blow up big-time in the region.

Bush writes: “We do not get to choose if a freedom revolution should begin or end in the Middle East or elsewhere. We only get to choose what side we are on.”

While one should not overestimate U.S. influence, one should also not underestimate it. Consider:

–In the Gaza Strip, by supporting the inclusion of Hamas in elections for which it was not qualified to run (since it had not accepted the Oslo accords), Bush’s own administration ensured that there would be a radical Islamist revolution in the Gaza Strip. This weakened the already dim prospects for any Israel-Palestinian peace process, has already brought one war, and will certainly bring others.

–In Lebanon, by refusing to give strong support to the moderate forces, the last two presidents ensured that the “freedom revolution” in that country would end in an Iran-Syria-Hizballah takeover.

–In Egypt, by taking the side not only of a total overthrow of the regime and even openly and unilaterally supporting the possibility of a Muslim Brotherhood government, the Obama Administration did help ensure that the fundamental transformation of Egypt began with the inevitable end of an anti-freedom Islamist regime.

–In Iran, by ignoring the upsurge of protest following the stolen election, the Obama Administration ensured that a “freedom revolution” didn’t get started there.

–In Syria, by refusing for all practical purposes to help the rebels, the U.S. government ensured that the “freedom revolution” would be defeated. Equally bad, by giving disproportionate help to the Islamists, the administration made it far more likely that if the rebellion succeeded it wouldn’t be a “freedom revolution.”

–And finally, in Libya, the United States and its European allies determined pretty much everything, overthrowing Muammar Qadhafi and determining who would rule the country.

Thus, a simple claim by Bush, which is also about the closest he and his successor would agree on any issue, is easily and can be demonstrably proven false. One hallmark of those favoring “neoconservative” positions is their lack of knowledge about the actual Middle East.

But that’s not all. The most important point of all is this one: “We only get to choose what side we are on.” The underlying assumption here is that there are two sides: evil dictatorship and noble democracy advocates.

In fact, there are three sides:

–Dictatorships of various levels of repressiveness, some of which are friendly and some that are sworn enemies of the United States.

–Moderate democracy advocates who want freedom in the Western sense of the word.

–Revolutionary Islamists who want a new, and anti-American, dictatorship run by themselves.

During the Cold War, American policymakers were very much aware of this three-part distinction (the third being Communists, in that case). They didn’t always choose correctly but they tried to evaluate each situation seriously. Sometimes they chose the dictators; sometimes they chose the democrats; and sometimes they even helped nudge the dictators (usually military juntas and especially in Latin America) into returning to the barracks and letting democracy resume.

No such careful process goes on now. In fact, the Obama Administration has repeatedly done the opposite of what a proper policy would be.

Bush also reflects Obama in using the be-on-the-right-side-of-history argument, a fatal flaw in a president of the United States who should be making choices based on U.S. interests.

Here is Bush’s argument annotated by me:

“The idea that Arab peoples are somehow content with oppression has been discredited forever.”

Again, the question, sadly, is not necessarily dispensing with oppression altogether but which kind of oppression we’re talking about. They are either willing, or can be forced, into getting rid of the old Arab nationalist oppression and then substituting Islamist oppression for it. Bush argues as if they are going to jump out of the frying pan with no danger of ending up in the fire.

He speaks critically about policymakers who “argue [that America] should be content with supporting the flawed leaders they know in the name of stability.”

President Obama Declares Jewish American Heritage Month

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

US President Barack Obama on Tuesday declared May “Jewish American Heritage Month”.

In a ceremony kicking off the month, the president praised Jewish Americans for bearing “hardship and hostility” with the “deep conviction that a better future was within their reach”.

He also noted the achievements and national contribution of Jewish Americans such as Supreme Court Jusice Louis Brandeis, physicist Albert Einstein, and writer and art collector Gertrude Stein.

“Our country is stronger for their contributions, and this month we commemorate the myriad ways they have enriched the American experience,” Obama said.

The first Jewish American Heritage Month occurred during the presidential term of George W. Bush.  It was introduced by Jewish Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D- FL) and passed in December 2005.

In Washington DC, events for Jewish American Heritage Month will take place at the Library of Congress, National Archives, National Gallery of Art, and the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.  Events will also take place in various locations throughout the United States.

Video: White House Kitchen Goes Kosher

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

In honor of the annual White House Hanukkah celebration, Rabbi Levi Shemtov, Director of American Friends of Lubavitch,  kashered the White House kitchen.  Shemtov – with the help of the White House kitchen staff and Chef Tommy Kurpradit, prepared the White House to host 550 guests for the annual celebration.

The  first conducted by President George W. Bush in 2001.

Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren, members of the House of Representantives and Senate, Supreme Court Justices, rabbis,  artists, astronauts, members of the military, Democratic activists and donors gathered in anticipation of Hanukkah at the White House on December 8, enjoying traditional foods such as latkes, jelly doughnuts and smoked salmon as well as new Jewish favorites such as sushi.

Guests were treated to a jazz rendition of “Rock of Ages” and a musical tribute to Jewish-American Composers by the U.S. Marine Chamber Orchestra and lit a Chanukah menorah – a little early – which had been salvaged from a synagogue ravaged by Hurricane Katrina.

President Jimmy Carter was the first to recognize Hanukkah, when he lit the National Menorah in Lafayette Park erected by Chabad-Lubavitch.  The first Hanukkah lighting ceremony at the White House was conducted by President William J. Clinton.

US Troops Leave Iraq as Operation Iraqi Freedom Ends

Sunday, December 18th, 2011

At 7:30am Baghdad time, the final convoy of US troops left Iraq, ending an almost nine-year military operation which began with the toppling of Dictator Saddam Hussein.

Since the first missile strikes of the $806 billion mission were launched under US President George W. Bush in March 2003, almost 4,459 Americans have been killed in Iraq, with 32,200 troops and staff wounded in action.

Military personnel and equipment rolled across the Iraq-Kuwait border just ahead of the December 31 deadline in a highly-organized exit which was planned over several months.  Air Force para-rescue forces remained on alert in case the 500-man convoy faced a critical emergency, yet the withdrawal remained low-key.  At its peak, US forces numbered over 170,000 at more than 500 bases.

On Thursday, US troops conducted a formal ceremony  ending Operation Iraqi Freedom in Baghdad, though a US diplomatic mission will remain on hand as a presence in Iraq, also overseeing military and equipment sales.

The withdrawal was a key component of US President Barack Obama’s election campaign.  As part of its effort to depart Iraq uneventfully, US forces paid $100,000 to tribal sheikhs to ensure their safety on highways toward Kuwait, according to Reuters news agency.

Though it seems the mission succeeded in thwarting attacks in the United States, it appears to have done little for Iraqi stability. Major sectarian violence led to thousands of Iraqi civilian deaths over the years, with a complex and fragile governmental coalition of Shi’ite, Sunni, and Kurdish parties threatening to collapse,  persistent insurgent attacks against government officials, and looming regional power wielders such as Iran and terror group Al-Qaida poised to take control.

The Left’s Nervous Breakdown

Wednesday, September 12th, 2007

President Bush, writes Graydon Carter, paranoiac editor of Vanity Fair, the magazine that strives mightily to be taken seriously while championing celebrity narcissism and mindless titillation (“Nicole Kidman Bares All,” trills the cover of the current issue, thick as always with ads for perfume, lingerie and high-priced clothes and toys for high-income yuppies and those who aspire to be), “has taken away our civil liberties.”

If that were true, of course, Carter would hardly be at liberty to write his monthly screeds against the administration, accusing the president and his aides of every inanity, moral outrage, crime and depredation known to mankind.

But as Noemie Emery writes in the September 3 issue of The Weekly Standard, America’s liberals and leftists have become so “increasingly unhinged” that they really have convinced themselves a dictatorship is being methodically assembled by Washington’s Republican Brownshirts.

Emery quotes a coterie of leftists in full breakdown mode, including feminist author and former Al Gore adviser Naomi Wolf who insists that “Beneath our very noses, George Bush and his administration are using time-tested tactics to close down an open society. It is time for us to be willing to think the unthinkable…that it can happen here.”

Wolf seems positively sane compared to Mark Crispin Miller, a professor and playwright obsessed with the notion that Republicans routinely steal elections. Asked why most journalists and even Democratic Party officials weren’t buying into his theories, the addled academic responded that they were unwilling to recognize that “the United States is clearly not a democratic country, or that the Bush administration are [sic] dangerous extremists, intent on building a one-party theocratic state.”

This scenario of Bush as iron-fisted dictator shredding our rights and freedoms “explains,” as Emery wryly puts it, “why poor Cindy Sheehan is now sitting in prison; why Bush critics like CIA retiree Valerie Plame have been ostracized by the corporate media and are wasting away in anonymity; why no critic of Bush can get a hearing, why no book complaining about him can ever get published, and why our multiplexes are filled with one pro-Bush propaganda movie after another, glorifying the Iraq war and rallying the nation behind its leader.”

But of course, she continues, “back on planet Earth, Cindy Sheehan is running for Congress; Valerie Plame is rich and famous;…and press censorship is now so far-reaching that you can’t even expose a legal, effective, and top-secret plan to trace terrorists without getting a Pulitzer Prize.”

Emery also unlocks the padded cell of political writer Michael Lind, introducing readers to the intellect behind the 2004 book Made in Texas: George W. Bush and the Southern Takeover of American Politics, which, in Emery’s thumbnail description, purported to reveal a plot hatched in the Lone Star State to resurrect not just the Confederacy but slave labor as well.

As Emery sums up, being a liberal or leftist in America today means believing some or all of the following:

• Global warming causes both hot and cold weather, just as elections are stolen when the Democrats lose them, but are stolen too when they win.
• A country in which dissent is a flourishing industry is on the brink of a great fascist crackdown, as you can tell by all the books written attacking the president, the plays put on that call him an idiot, and the movies that call for his death.
• When exit polls indicate a different result from the actual vote count, the polls are correct and the vote count is fraudulent, a fact covered up by journalists who are (a) Democrats by something close to a nine-to-one ratio; and (b) dying to uncover a huge government scandal, so that they too can be famous like Woodward and Bernstein, make millions of dollars, and be played in the movies by Hollywood stars.
• That [both] Presidents Bush, from Yale and a long line of Yankees, who made the careers of the first black secretaries of state ever named in this country, are secretly longing to bring back the South of 1859.
• And, that the Republican party, whose frontrunners are a once-divorced actor (just like Ronald Reagan), a Mormon from Massachusetts by way of Michigan, and a thrice-married Italian Catholic from the streets of Brooklyn, is a shrunken husk of a regional faction, punitive, narrow, and wholly obsessed with extreme social mores, relying on extralegal repression to perpetuate itself in power.

Ranking The Presidents

Wednesday, January 10th, 2007

The Dec. 29 front-page essay on Harry Truman by this modest scrivener continues to generate a heartening response – and not just from Jewish Press readers, as the piece was featured on FrontPageMag.com and reprinted by the Kansas City Jewish Chronicle in Truman’s home state of Missouri.

Several respondents have taken the opportunity in their e-mails and letters to rate the various U.S. presidents who’ve held office since the creation of Israel and ask for the Monitor’s own assessment.

The following ranking, subjective and open to argument as such things always are, goes from worst (11) to best (1) and is based on an overall assessment of a president’s attitude, actions and consistency as well as whether his decisions and policies were a help or hindrance to Israel.

11. Jimmy Carter (1977-1981) – Sure, he was the mediator between Egypt and Israel at Camp David, but Sadat’s initiative caught him completely by surprise after he’d foolishly agreed to bring the Soviets into Mideast talks. He never hid his intense dislike for Menachem Begin, made disparaging comments about Jews, and his foreign policy team was unusually hostile to Israel.

10. Dwight Eisenhower (1953-1961) – The atmosphere improved to some degree during Ike’s final three years in office, but the relationship between the U.S. and Israel remained lukewarm throughout his tenure. Even so, it may have been an improvement over the Truman years – as Isaac Alteras writes in his comprehensive study Eisenhower and Israel (University Press of Florida), “if the Eisenhower administration was less free with pro-Israel declarations [than the Truman administration had been], it was more forthcoming with pro-Israel deeds.”

9. George H.W. Bush (1989-1993) – In many respects not as bad on Israel as his reputation would suggest. His administration successfully pushed the UN to rescind its 1975 “Zionism equals racism” resolution and rushed anti-missile defense systems to Israel during the first Gulf War, but his 1991 lectern-pounding attack on pro-Israel lobbyists and the hostility toward Israel exhibited by his secretary of state will forever overshadow any positives.

8. Gerald Ford (1974-1977) – The Kissinger-Ford “reassessment’’ of American policy caused a strain for several months, but U.S.-Israel relations remained relatively strong for the duration of Ford’s brief term.

7. John Kennedy (1961-1963) – Viewed in his day as friendly toward Israel, his Mideast policy was in fact almost as “even-handed’’ as Eisenhower’s. Hectored Israel almost non-stop on the Jewish state’s nuclear program and in 1962 wrote an absolutely craven letter to Egypt’s Nasser pleading for friendship and implying support for Eisenhower’s tough line toward Israel during the 1956 Sinai war.

6. Bill Clinton (1993-2001) – After enjoying an excellent relationship with the Rabin-Peres Labor government, showed a much colder face to Likud prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Showered terror chief Yasir Arafat with respect and affection, inviting him to the White House more than he did any other foreign leader.

5. Harry Truman (1945-1953) – His decisions to support partition in 1947 and statehood in 1948 were monumental, but his administration’s policy toward Israel from 1949 through 1952 was lukewarm. He refused to sell arms to Israel, and whatever economic aid he did extend was belated and miserly. His recognition of Israel would have been absolutely meaningless had the Arabs prevailed militarily.

4. Ronald Reagan (1981-1989) – Probably felt personally closer to Israel than any other president save George W. Bush, but his administration had a number of serious policy disagreements with various Israeli governments through the 1980’s. Nevertheless, U.S.-Israel ties grew immeasurably stronger during his two terms in office.

3. Lyndon Johnson (1963-1969) – Dramatically increased economic aid and upgraded military sales to Israel. In contrast to Eisenhower in 1956, did not squeeze Israel to unilaterally retreat after the Six Day War.

2. George W. Bush (2001-present) – In his book The Price of Loyalty, former treasury secretary Paul O’Neill disclosed that just ten days after his inauguration Bush met with his senior national security team and declared: “We’re going to correct the imbalances of the previous administration on the Mideast conflict. We’re going to tilt back towards Israel.” Arguably the most pro-Israel of all U.S. presidents.

1. Richard Nixon (1969-1974) – His support for Israel was not as sentimental as Johnson’s or as heartfelt as Bush’s, but the bottom line is he saved the state from near-certain catastrophe in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. And that alone qualifies him for the number one spot on a list of this kind.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/media-monitor/ranking-the-presidents/2007/01/10/

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