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Op-Ed: Obama, Learn From Putin's Fierce Independence

Obama only knows how to put the pressure on Israel. Perhaps he can learn something from Russia's leader.
Published: Tuesday, September 10, 2013 4:15 PM


As President Barack Obama falls over himself to explain why America will not intervene in Syria, one wonders if American non-intervention will extend politically to America’s allies in the Middle East.

Despite Obama’s repeated pronouncements saying Assad had better not cross red lines, America is still not intervening.

But despite repeated American warnings, Russian President Vladimir Putin does what he feels is best for his country - even when the West thinks differently - and puts the good of his nation first rather than worrying about the rest of the world.  He evinced disrespect for America on the Snowden issue, and appears to be a shrewd patriot, a conservative who has brought Russia back from the brink of disaster.

Putin repeatedly shows that his behavior will be governed solely by what is in Russia’s best interest. Putin understands that an overthrow of Assad would create the risk that Russia would lose influence in Syria.

Putin told Obama that there have been "previous examples of political transition in Egypt and Libya as well as their concern that the West does not have a credible plan for what would happen to Syria’s various battling factions and ethnic groups if Mr. Assad stepped down from power."  Putin strongly mocks American failure.

As Mubarak and others have asked, Israel similarly can ask, whether Obama’s America knows the difference between how to treat friends vs. how to treat enemies. Obama regularly pressures Israel – and one wonders what that will mean after he has been emasculated as the result of Syria.

With the non-action on Syria as a backdrop, one wonders if the Israeli government will now go all out in acting solely in Israel’s best interest.   Our people, who only 70 years ago were at the brink of extinction, now have a strong and sovereign state and depend on leaders who should protect the people of Israel.

While Obama doesn’t act on Syria, American intervention in Israel shouldn’t be forgotten.

Against the Likud, America acts. Against someone who kills 100,000 of his own citizens, they don't. Nor do they act against the Iranian nuclear bomb.

A few days before this year’s Israeli elections President Barack Obama was quoted as saying “Israel doesn’t know what its own best interests are,” and commented that with “each new settlement announcement Netanyahu is moving his country down a path toward near-total isolation.” When there is an election, Obama can interfere and tell candidates what to do and voters for whom to vote – but when it comes to stopping the gassing of people, perhaps Obama is less effective?

In 1992, when Israeli Prime Minister Shamir refused to surrender to President George H.W. Bush’s demands that Israel stop building in Judea & Samaria, Bush withheld loan guarantees on the eve of Israeli elections.  He then dispatched his Secretary of State James Baker to promote the Labor party.  The Likud & Shamir lost the election. (The aftermath of this election brought Israel the Oslo peace process which has resulted in over a thousand dead.)

Four years later Clinton did everything he could to aid then PM Shimon Peres in his bid to stay in power – including making a virtual joint campaign appearance. The President appeared with Peres in Israel and in the U.S. during the campaign and repeated Labor Party electoral slogans almost verbatim.

In the late 1990’s, Ehud Barak was endorsed by President Bill Clinton to help bring down Netanyahu’s government. Clinton pressured Israel’s Likud coalition partners to bring down the government – and Clinton's close aides and political strategists, James Carville, Stanley Greenberg and Robert Shrum ran Barak’s election campaign.

From a Public Relations standpoint, Israel should remind America of the many benefits of having Israel as an ally of America – and not just Israel's benefits from having America as its friend.

As the great Prime Minister Begin told an American Ambassador “We are not a banana Republic.”

And  Israel is the only place in the Middle East where the American flag isn’t burnt regularly.

Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR and a passionate supporter of Israel.