By Dmitry Babich for RIA Novosti
Comparison of Barack Obama to Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev before the November 2008 elections turned out to be true by at least one count.
Although he has assumed office only four months ago, Obama already has many opponents who accuse him of weakness, pandering to the enemies, and betraying principles. These are the sins Gorbachev was accused of by the Communist Party’s conservatives.
Obama’s opponents are criticizing his plans of major financial injections in the economy, expected to produce a “growth miracle.” However, many analysts fear that this will only spur inflation, which will boomerang at all dollar holders across the world.
Their other targets are a record-high budget deficit and the bankruptcy of several companies that had seemed to be unsinkable.
But Obama’s biggest sin, according to his opponents, is his neglect for the security of Israel, even though that neglect has so far been only verbal.
Several weeks ago, the U.S. President made an unprecedented direct appeal to the people of Iran, a country with which the United States has had no diplomatic relations for 30 years and which it planned to bomb five years ago, inspired by the initial success of its invasion of Iraq.
This week, Obama gave a cool welcome to Benyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s new conservative prime minister. He pointed to the need for establishing an independent Arab Palestinian state under the so-called two-state solution, which stipulates the establishment of a Jewish and an Arab states in the territory of Israel with a common capital in Jerusalem.
So far Israel is not on the itinerary for the president's June trip to the Middle East, although he plans to go to Egypt.
Conservative WASPs in the U.S. expert community interpreted all of the above as betrayal of America’s old ally in the Middle East.
Ariel Cohen, a Russian and Eurasian expert at the Heritage Foundation, has published a most radical article on this issue in The Washington Times on May 18, 2009.
He writes that the Obama Administration’s policy “is dangerously close to extorting concessions with the threat of a nuclear holocaust, which may be initiated by the vitriolic Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.”
“The administration wants Mr Netanyahu to retreat fully to the June 4, 1967, cease-fire lines, including partition of Jerusalem,” Cohen writes. “A vast majority of Israelis oppose such an untenable scenario. Those lines are widely considered indefensible. The late, dovish Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban called them ‘the borders of Auschwitz.’”
Another critic of Obama, Marc Gerecht, a former CIA officer and a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, writes in The Wall Street Journal: “A European effort to cripple Iran's production and transport of liquefied gas – an enormous future financial reservoir for Iran given its reserves – could cause a political earthquake in Tehran. The mullahs just might suspend uranium enrichment. But the Obama administration appears deeply conflicted about using ‘sticks.’”
Obama is definitely uneasy about that criticism. Even though claims that the new Nazis intend to force their allies into new concentration camps or to incinerate them in a nuclear strike sound demagogical, they are still supported by part of the U.S. population.
According to the last Zogby International survey, the situation in the Middle East is polarizing U.S. public opinion. As many as 73% of McCain supporters are against forcing a two-state solution on Israel and only 16% support this formula, which is part of the new president’s Mideast policy.
As for Obama backers, 71% believe that the United States should “get tough with Israel” to stop settlements and achieve a two-state solution to the conflict, while 18% are against such a move.
Even if Obama chooses to ignore the opinion of 73% of McCain backers, his overzealous attempts to pressurize Israel into concessions could lose him an important part of his electorate, namely the liberal American Jews.
During the 2008 election, 76% of Jewish Americans voted for Obama, partly because of their dislike for George W. Bush and their disappointment with the war in Iraq. But they may turn their backs on Obama if he refuses to honor his commitment to “leave Jerusalem the undivided capital of Israel.”
So far, Obama has been responding to criticism just as Mikhail Gorbachev did, by making optimistic statements, pretending not to hear harsh criticism, or speaking in favor of everything good and against everything evil.
Still, he will have to answer even the most unpleasant questions sooner or later.