Biden’s Comments: Will Obama Abandon Israel if Iran Attacks?

Interesting article by James Tarranto vis a vis what Biden meant by his recent comments about Obama being tested in the 1st months of his presidency:

The Continuing Crisis: Maybe you can figure out Biden’s warning.

We realize we are at risk of sounding like a broken record, but that Biden comment–which we noted Monday and wrote about again yesterday–is really bothering us. And not just us. In a column for the New York Post, Kirstin Powers, a Democrat, says the media’s “scattered coverage” of Joe Biden’s disturbing remarks reflect an “incredible bias.” Powers and both note that even Dan Rather said, “Certainly if Sarah Palin had said this it would be above the fold in most newspapers today.”
CBS News reports that Barack Obama pooh-poohed his running mate’s comments: “You know I think that Joe sometimes engages in rhetorical flourishes.” Or, to put it another way: “We’re gonna have an international crisis. . . . It’s not gonna be apparent initially . . . that we’re right.” Only words!
The idea that America’s adversaries are likely to test a new administration is not shocking. It seems prudent to prepare for such an eventuality. What’s disturbing about Biden’s remarks is that he seems to anticipate a domestic crisis of sorts as well–that Obama’s response to the crisis will be unpoular among the public, or some segment of it, and that his backers will simply have to have faith. But Biden gives us no clue as to what he thinks Obama will do that will prompt a backlash–or which segment of the public he expects to lash back. To hear Biden tell it, a vote for Obama is a vote for God-and-Joe-Biden-only-know-what.
In the absence of clarity from Biden and Obama, people have begun speculating as to what may lie in store. The Boston Globe reports that in a speech yesterday, Palin picked up on the Biden remarks:
Yesterday in Reno, Nev., Palin told supporters, “I guess we gotta say, ‘Well, thanks for the warning, Joe.’ ” She then imagined the “crisis scenarios,” based on what she described as Obama’s foreign policy agenda: his pledge to meet with rogue leaders without preconditions, though he has amended that vow; and Obama saying he would go into the tribal areas of Pakistan to go after Osama bin Laden if the Pakistani government wouldn’t, though Palin has supported a similar policy.
“Crisis scenario number three,” she said, is that Obama’s plan for withdrawing US combat troops from Iraq within 16 months of taking office would leave “some 25 million Iraqis at the mercy of Iranian-supported Shi’ite extremists and Al Qaeda in Iraq” and could force US troops to return.
Palin asserted that after the Russian invasion of Georgia in August, “Senator Obama’s reaction was one of indecision and moral equivalence,” which could encourage Russia to invade Ukraine next. “That would be crisis scenario number four,” she said.
“But I guess the looming crisis that most worries the Obama campaign right now is Joe Biden’s next speaking engagement. Let’s call that crisis number five,” Palin said as supporters laughed uproariously.
But this is not a joke–well, OK, it’s not just a joke. There really could be an international crisis–or more than one–in the early days of a new administration, and more specificity about this Biden warning would be helpful in evaluating whether an Obama presidency is too risky–or whether we should take comfort that his instincts would be the right ones.
The Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz points to one possible crisis:
Senior Tehran officials are recommending a preemptive strike against Israel to prevent an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear reactors, a senior Islamic Republic official told foreign diplomats two weeks ago in London.
The official, Dr. Seyed G. Safavi, said recent threats by Israeli authorities strengthened this position, but that as of yet, a preemptive strike has not been integrated into Iranian policy.
The Ha’aretz report does not discuss the U.S. response to a possible Iranian strike against Israel, although Safavi does say “that a victory by U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama would pave the way for dialogue with Washington, while a John McCain presidency would bolster Iran’s extreme right, which opposes dialogue.”
Yesterday we noted Hugh Hewitt’s theory that Biden was warning that an Obama administration would not support Israel in a confrontation with Iran. We noted that Biden’s remark was open to multiple interpretation and asked for clarification for voters’ sake. Reader Ray Hendel observes: “What may be more important is a clarification so Iran does not interpret Biden’s remarks the way Hugh Hewitt does and see it as a green light.”
Meanwhile, “IJane,” a contributor to the Hillary Clinton Forum, a dead-ender Web site, speculates that Obama’s response to whatever crisis arises will be to impose a military draft. She quotes from Obama’s comment at a widely ignored Columbia University forum last month:
But it’s also important that a president speaks to military service as an obligation not just of some, but of many. You know, I traveled, obviously, a lot over the last 19 months. And if you go to small towns, throughout the Midwest or the Southwest or the South, every town has tons of young people who are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. That’s not always the case in other parts of the country, in more urban centers. And I think it’s important for the president to say, this is an important obligation. If we are going into war, then all of us go, not just some.
Let’s throw this open and see if we can shed some light on Biden’s mysterious and troubling remark. If you have an idea of what he meant, email us at We’ll compile the best ones and include them in a column soon. If Obama and Biden won’t tell us what they mean, maybe we can figure it out ourselves.

1 thought on “Biden’s Comments: Will Obama Abandon Israel if Iran Attacks?”

  1. Funny that OB dismisses Joe’s “rhetorical flourishes” as “only words” YET speach after speach from OB echo that “we have a dream…” or “we have nothing to fear…” were just only words. OB didn’t think words were so trivial then, BUT now political convenience dictates OB’s change in position and dismisses his running mate’s freudian slip…predictable!

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