Once in a blue moon, politicians get praise from the most unlikely of sources.
Such as when an Israeli prime minister known for his hawkish views relating to anything involving highly hostile neighbors heaps praise on you for not using military force in a crisis.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — the hawk’s hawk — said President Obama was right to back away from his “red line” threat to use force against Syria when it became known that the Syrian government had used poison gas on its citizens.
In an expansive interview with Bloomberg News, Netanyahu said President Obama offered “the one ray of light in a very dark region” when he backed off the threat of force. What happened next, of course, was when the Russians brokered a deal to get the Syrians to turn over their stockpile of chemical weapons.
“We are concerned that they may not have declared all of their capacity. But what has been removed has been removed. We’re talking about 90 percent. We appreciate the effort that has been made and the results that have been achieved,” Netanyahu told Bloomberg’s Jeffrey Goldberg.
Goldberg makes it clear in the interview that Netanyahu and Obama haven’t yet healed the deep rifts between the men, who he writes have a “famously contentious relationship.”
It’s intriguing, though, to hear Netanyahu offer words of encouragement for the use of diplomacy over military action, which is the course sought by Obama in trying to find a path to peace in the Middle East.
Indeed, when someone with Netanyahu’s experience battling next-door enemies who swear to eradicate his country speaks of the virtues of diplomacy, there ought to be lessons learned by other critics who have far less skin in this game. I refer, of course, to Obama’s critics at home who continue to harp on the need to employ “the military option” to solve foreign crises.
The Israeli leader has many issues yet to settle with the United States. For example, Netanyahu wants to continue building Israeli settlements on land taken during the 1967 Six-Day War, something the United States opposes.
However, the cause for diplomacy has chalked up an important ally who has an up-close stake in finding peace in one of the world’s most violent regions.