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Obama’s Moral-Equivalency Problem

President Obama sat down with Larry King last night for a wide-ranging discussion, including an exchange about the deliberately provoked jihadi flotilla crisis. King tried to goad the president into addressing Jimmy Carter’s recent (and knee-jerk) denunciation of Israel:

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KING:  Couple of other things. Former President Carter has condemned the Israeli raid against those ships in the flotilla trying to break the blockade of Gaza. 


Where do you stand in that? A former American president has condemned it. 


OBAMA:  The United States, with the other members of the U.N. Security Council said very clearly that we condemned all the acts that led up to this violence. It was a tragic situation. You’ve got loss of life that was unnecessary.

The President of the United States condemns “all the acts that led up to this violence.” All the acts. This is a vacuous, meaningless statement. It makes no serious attempt to distinguish those acts that were justified and those that were criminal — and immoral. Several questions arise from the president’s catch-all condemnation:

Is the president condemning Israel for its legal naval blockade of Gaza? For its legal decision to board the vessel to inspect it for weapons? For its commandos’ necessary and clear cut acts of self-defense? All of these actions would constitute acts leading up to “this violence,” would they not?

And what about the “unnecessary” loss of life he laments? Is the president unaware that several of the terror-affiliated jihadis were preparing for, if not actively pursuing, martyrdom on their voyage? How do these facts impact the president’s condemnation calculus, if at all?

Barack Obama has a moral-equivalency problem. On a number of crucial foreign-policy questions, the president has exhibited a deficit of moral and ethical judgment, and an appalling lack of leadership. During the campaign, he hedged unacceptably when Russia illegally invaded neighboring Georgia. Rather than offering a clear-eyed defense of an ally and denouncing Russian aggression, Obama issued a bland statement urging “restraint” on both sides. The administration seems to share the president’s impulses: His Secretary of State recently infuriated the Brits by needlessly straddling the fence on a question about sovereignty over the Falkland Islands. Simply put, last night’s performance was sadly not out of the ordinary for this president and his cloudy worldview.

The Obama years will be remembered as a deeply disquieting era for U.S. allies, and an emboldening one for our adversaries.


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