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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 6/17/13

Clinton and Netanyahu Not Good for Obama

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With friends like former President Bill Clinton and current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, what is a fellow like President Obama to do?

As a start, he could get a few second opinions.

President Obama is struggling to help resolve an ugly civil war in Syria. He is also working to relieve U.S. tensions with Iran, which has just elected Hassan Rohani (above), a moderate, as its new president.

For most observers who are not in Israel's rapidly shrinking circle of friends, the news of Rohani's election is reassuring. The new president won with 50.7 percent of the vote, avoiding a run-off with his closest opponent who had only 16 percent.

Rohani's victory should be good news for easing tensions in the region. What is not so good for Obama is the advice and public shoving he is receiving from his two self-serving friends, Clinton and Netanyahu.

The only cleric in the list of six candidates, Rohani sided with the Iranian students after the Green Party's apparent victory in the 2009 presidential election was rejected by Iran's ruling clerics. He has served in the past as an effective nuclear negotiator for Iran. He has shown that he is not a hard-liner, but a man willing to negotiate.

The Syrian civil war between Syria's government and rebel opposition is the second Middle East crisis currently confronting Obama. Until now, President Obama has refrained from any military involvement in that war. Until, that is, former President Bill Clinton couldn't resist saying, "Do what I did, Mr. President."

Maureen Dowd reports that Clinton, whose wife is almost certain to run for president in 2016, shoved Obama out of his previous cautious stance on military action in Syria.

In a rare act of disloyalty as a member of the club of former presidents, Clinton joined the chorus of war drum-beaters to persuade Obama to supply small arms to the rebel side of the Syrian civil war.

It is of considerable importance to pro-Israel U.S. politicians like Clinton, that anti-Israel Hezbollah forces helped Syrian government forces retake Al-Qusayr, a crucial border city between Lebanon and Syria. If Israel does not want any help to go to its enemy, Hezbollah, then Bill Clinton is with his Israeli friends. There is, after all, money to be raised for Hillary's race in 2016.

So what does Bill Clinton do?

Dowd wrote in her New York Times column that Clinton told Senator John McCain that Obama "should be more forceful on Syria and should not rationalize with opinion polls that reflect Americans' reluctance to tangle in foreign crises."

"Citing his own experiences in Kosovo and Bosnia, Clinton said that if you blamed a poll for a lack of action, 'you'd look like a total wuss.' He added that 'when people are telling you 'no' in these situations, very often what they're doing is flashing a giant yellow light' of caution."

A former president telling a current president from his own party that he must not be a "wuss", is not exactly a supportive suggestion. It is, in fact, downright insulting.

It does not help that Clinton chose to convey his "wuss" message through McCain, the Republican that Obama defeated for president in 2008. (A wuss is, according to one dictionary, "a person who is physically weak and ineffectual. Often a male person with low courage factor.")

"Wuss" was not the only pejorative term Clinton tossed around so glibly in his discussion with McClain. Josh Rogin wrote in The Daily Beast:

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James Wall served as a Contributing Editor of The Christian Century magazine, based in Chicago, Illinois, from 1999 through 2017. From 1972 through 1999, he was editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine. Many sources have influenced (more...)

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