Welcome Back the Real Barack Obama


President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu deliver a press conference following their meeting in the Oval Office.

Article Highlights

  • Let’s face facts: Barack Obama doesn’t have Israel’s back. He’s down with his own rockin’ foreign policy.

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  • Lessons learned: 1) Hope Obama doesn’t have your back. 2) listen to the press conferences, not the speeches.

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In a major effort to win back pro-Israel voters, Barack Obama went before AIPAC’s 2012 policy conference and reassured the audience that he “has Israel’s back”.  He got a big round of applause, and more than a few in the audience breathed a sigh of relief that the President was once again in Israel’s camp, especially on the dangerous question of Iran.  But at the presser he gave at noon on Tuesday, it became clear that that was then, this is now.  Apparently, having Israel’s back “isn’t a military doctrine”.  It isn’t… anything.  Talks with Iran are the way forward.  Sanctions are biting.  Talk of war is dangerous. There are costs.

Let’s face facts: Barack Obama doesn’t have Israel’s back.  He’s down with his own rockin’ foreign policy.  He’s not interested enough in Israel to visit once as President.  He’s not worried enough about U.S. interests to resource the forces needed in the region.  He’s pretty sure that talks will lead somewhere.  Oh, and by the way, he’s also pretty uninterested in that whole fight for democracy thing in Syria or Iran.  That’s the kind of “unilateralism” he can’t support.  Or something.

And another thing: Barack Obama thinks everyone who listens to him is a fool.  How otherwise can he give one speech on Sunday and another on Tuesday? How can he suggest that “got your back” means “we have historically cooperated with Israel”… “just like with a host of other countries” when he clearly intended his AIPAC audience to believe something else?

Lessons learned: 1) Hope Obama doesn’t have your back. 2) listen to the press conferences, not the speeches.  Only the former show us the real man behind the words.

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About the Author



  • As a long-time Senate Committee on Foreign Relation senior professional staff member for the Near East and South Asia, Danielle Pletka was the point person on Middle East, Pakistan, India and Afghanistan issues. As the vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at AEI, Pletka writes on national security matters with a focus on Iran and weapons proliferation, the Middle East, Syria, Israel and the Arab Spring. She also studies and writes about South Asia: Pakistan, India and Afghanistan.

    Pletka is the co-editor of “Dissent and Reform in the Arab World: Empowering Democrats” (AEI Press, 2008) and the co-author of “Containing and Deterring a Nuclear Iran” (AEI Press, 2011) and “Iranian influence in the Levant, Egypt, Iraq, and Afghanistan” (AEI Press, 2012). Her most recent study, “America vs. Iran: The competition for the future of the Middle East,” was published in January 2014.


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