It is seldom that we know that a new year will start well. Or, to put it more circumspectly, lest the jealous gods take umbrage, that one hugely pleasant event will occur in January – on the 20th to be precise. No, I am not referring to Donald Trump’s inauguration (though that is hugely pleasant too) but to Barack Obama’s exit.
Hussein is his middle name and mayhem and malaise will be his lasting shame. His legacy is a weakened America and, correspondingly, an infinitely more dysfunctional and violent Middle East than when he came to power. Russia, China, Iran and North Korea have all grown more belligerent. ISIS – “the JV team” — was spawned and grew on his feckless watch. Millions of Syrian and other Muslim refugees fleeing conflicts have streamed into Europe creating havoc. And then we have his last dastardly deed; an abject betrayal of Israel, which I will come to.
At home in the US he encouraged identity politics and racial division. Among numbers of prejudicial utterances, who can forget him saying that the black thug Trayvon Martin, killed in self-defense by George Zimmerman, could have been his son. And how about the frequent visits of Black Lives Matter shysters to the White House – you know, the leaders of a racist anti-cop rabble, built on the lie that another black thug, Michael Brown, was unjustifiable killed by a cop. And the result: cops gunned down and inner-city black neighborhoods less safe for law-abiding people. According to the Chicago Tribune, shooting victims numbered 2989 in Chicago in 2015. By Christmas Day in 2016 the number had reached 4291.
He also presided over an insipid economic performance. He is the first president in history to not have one year of 3% GDP growth. Incomes have been stagnant. Millions more people have been forced out of the workforce and onto food stamps. The national debt has doubled. A stream of new regulations, including EPA rules forlornly designed to cool the planet, are estimated by the Heritage Foundation to cost business over $100 billion per year. They have dampened growth and killed jobs. Then we have Obamacare, “the craziest thing in the world,” according to Bill Clinton before he tried to walk-back his ‘honest’ verdict.
Unfortunately, President Obama lives in his own world where all of his policies are meritorious. I would like to know his secret. That way I could see my own life of missteps and mishaps in a more positive light. Okay, it would be delusional but I would be happier. As it is brutal reality breaks through. This makes me much less happy but at least, maybe, I have learnt something. Maybe!
There is no chance of Obama learning anything. Hence he intends to go out trying to augment his lame legacy whatever the cost to the USA. He shows no class in his lame-duck days. His plan is to queer the pitch for The Donald, whose success, if it were to occur, would leave Obama’s legacy in shreds, in the dustbin of history. He would qualify to join the likes of James Buchannan (1857-61) and Warren Harding (1921-23) among the worst of presidential flops.
His rearguard trick is to do things which are not reversible or at least reversible only with time-consuming difficulty. Giving away $1.7 billion to the Iranians is irreversible. The Iranians are not going to give it back. He is hurrying to transfer another 22 Islamic terrorists from Guantanamo Bay (GITMO) before Trump gets the White House keys. They won’t volunteer to return.
He has declared large offshore areas of the Arctic and Atlantic Ocean off-limit for oil and gas exploration. Cunningly, he did this using an obscure provision in the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (1953). The suggestion is that this will make it more difficult for Trump to undo without going through Congress. No doubt the EPA burnt the midnight ethanol to come up with it. But, the biggest debilitating doozy of them all so far (though be afraid he still has weeks to go) is his conniving at the United Nations to damage Israel and reward his Islamic mates.
In 2016 the UN General Assembly adopted 20 resolutions condemning Israel compared with 4 to do with the rest of the world. (Source: unwatch.org) UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recently said (17 December) that the UN “had a disproportionate focus on Israel.” There is nothing new about this preoccupation with the supposed sins of Israel. But, of course, only the Security Council really matters, where the power of veto is held individually by the five permanent members – China, France, Russia, the UK and the USA.
The good old USA does not always veto resolutions critical of Israel but it can be absolutely depended upon to veto those which strike at Israel’s territorial integrity. That, in any event, was the case until cometh Obama on 23 December.
The offending resolution was originally put forward by Egypt but withdrawn, perhaps because of Trump’s excellent intervention. Nevertheless, Obama and his henchmen were not to be denied. New Zealand (what a shame), Venezuela, Malaysia and Senegal, brought it up again. It passed with fourteen ayes and one (infamous) US abstention. If still on the Council as a non-permanent member, how would Australia have voted I wonder?
Here are the five operative clauses of the resolution, of which the first is foundational; the rest is waffle.
“1. Reaffirms that the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace;
“2. Reiterates its demand that Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and that it fully respect all of its legal obligations in this regard;
“3. Underlines that it will not recognize any changes to the 4 June 1967 lines, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties through negotiations;
“4. Stresses that the cessation of all Israeli settlement activities is essential for salvaging the two-State solution, and calls for affirmative steps to be taken immediately to reverse the negative trends on the ground that are imperiling the two-State solution;
“5. Calls upon all States, bearing in mind paragraph 1 of this resolution, to distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967.
A first thing to note is that the idea of a two-state solution is fanciful. The Palestinians hate and are taught to hate Israelis from an early age. Nothing short of Israel’s demise will ever satisfy them. Any leader offering less, without being tongue in cheek (i.e. practicing taqiyya), is likely to be assassinated. In case there is any doubt, Israel is not bordered by Belgians or by the Swiss. Second, the 1967, pre Six-Day War, borders are indefensible. Israel will never withdraw to them and if it ever did it would be no more than a first course for the Palestinians and their Arab allies, as Israelis know. Third retreating to 1967 borders would mean giving up historical Jewish sites, including the Western Wall in East Jerusalem. That is unthinkable for Israel.
Now look at the resolution (particularly clause 1) which the United States was deeply complicit in passing. It effectively calls for the dismemberment and eventual destruction of Israel. Words have meaning. You can make all the excuses in the world for Obama’s legacy; this is an indelible stain. I use ‘indelible’ advisedly because the resolution can’t be undone. Any counter resolution is sure to be vetoed by Russia or China and probably (and pathetically) by France or the UK.
This infamy is Obama’s lasting legacy. Was his personal enmity towards Netanyahu behind it? Unfortunately, it would not be the least surprising. His going can’t come soon enough. Good riddance!
We have a petty, vainglorious, failed president going out of office with his version of a scorched-earth policy. There is no grace in it. His wife was equally graceless when superciliously expounding to Oprah Winfrey that “now we’re feeling what not having hope feels like”. In fact Donald Trump represents hope for so many people in the US. And he optimistically reckons that everyone will eventually come along. Now that is a triumph of hope over realism. Part of the realism for Trump and his team will undoubtedly arrive when they try to unravel the mess Obama has made, not the least of which being the mess of his last days.