Lieberman’s Un-Obama Approach

Sen. Joe Lieberman agrees with virtually nothing Obama is doing or saying with regard to Iran, Israel, and the threat of Islamic terrorism. On Iran, Obama is pursuing insignificant sanctions and has effectively ruled out military action. Lieberman sees things differently:

“I don’t think it’s time to use military force against Iran, but I certainly think it’s time for the United States to have plans that will enable us to use force to stop the Iranian nuclear program if the president orders such an attack,” says Sen. Lieberman, chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

In other words, Obama is wasting his time on nuclear nonproliferation discussions so long as the Iranian threat goes unaddressed. And likewise, all of the Obami’s efforts on the “peace process” (should we call it the “peace ultimatum”?) will be useless (more than they are now), Lieberman explains, “because the clients of Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas, strengthened by an Iranian nuclear umbrella, will turn more ferocious, not just against Israel but first against their enemies among the Palestinians, which is the current leadership of the Palestinian Authority.”

Lieberman’s list of objections to Obama’s policies is long. He thinks the omission of “Islamic extremists” from our National Security Strategy document “fundamentally dishonest.” He doesn’t like the Obami onslaught over Israel’s settlements and over Jerusalem housing. And he thinks it is unhelpful to rule out nuclear retaliation against an NPT signatory that attacks us with biological or chemical weapons. (He wants to maintain “appropriate ambiguity.”)

In short, Obama and Lieberman look at the Middle East in diametrically opposite ways. Obama wants to reorient the U.S. away from Israel and toward the “Muslim World”; Lieberman wants to solidify the U.S.-Israel relationship. Obama is not willing to do “whatever it takes” to prevent Iran from going nuclear: Lieberman does. Obama spends his time and political capital on everything but the Iranian threat; Lieberman says that’s what matters. Obama wants to win brownie points (by ruling out nuclear retaliation against NPT adherents) with … well, it’s not clear with whom; Lieberman thinks that’s dangerous.

It’s no coincidence that the two differ on so many particulars. Lieberman sees intractable enemies who don’t share our values and who will respond, if at all, only to the use or threat of hard American power. Call it “realism.” Obama is practicing some other brand of foreign policy. Whatever you call it, it’s not working and it’s not making us safer.