Wednesday, September 14, 2011

How President Obama helped to save six Israelis with a phone call...

First caught by Andrew Sullivan.  This was an interesting read, but as an Obama fan I'm glad the President did what he did, I'm just not sure why this was "historic" as the author keeps suggesting.  For the record, the guy doing the speaking I don't believe is a native english speaker. He's also the former head of the Mossad, Efraim Halevy. That might explain some of the blocky usage you're about to read.

During [last Friday night], as you know, [the Israeli] embassy [in Cairo] was surrounded and was on the verge of being stormed. And [Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu] went to the special command center in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and from there he actually ran and commanded this operation of trying to extricate our staff from the embassy. And, at the end, there were six people left, six people of the security detail of the embassy. They were there inside the last room, which had been the ultimate room in the embassy. And, they had one steel door, which was between them and the mob.

And the Prime Minister took many very, very important decisions that night. Successful decisions, very responsible decisions. And for that he has been lauded, and rightly so I think by the public in Israel and by the population at large for his cool and his measured way of handling this crisis.

But one of the decisions he had to take in the end, he wanted to take, was to find ways of extricating his people, our people, out of that embassy. And he turned to one man, to the President of the United States, and he spoke to him. And the president of the United States, without having much time to consult with Congress, and with the media, and with the analysts and with all of the other people who have to be consulted on major and grave decisions. He took a decision to take up the telephone and get on the line with the powers that be in Egypt, and get them to order the release of these six people, and the detail of the Egyptian commando forces entered and saved them.

I think that this decision by President Obama was a unique decision in many ways. Because I don’t have to tell you, and this was just said time and time and over again this afternoon/this evening, that the United States is not in a position the way it was many years ago in the Middle East, it has its problems, it has its considerations, and rightly so. But I believe the leadership that the President of the United States showed on that night was a leadership of historic dimensions. It was he who took the ultimate decision that night which prevented what could have been a sad outcome—instead of six men coming home, the arrival in Israel of six body bags.

The rest can be found here. Like I said, I don't know about "historic". The United States and Israel are allies, and this is what allies do for one another.

And let's keep in mind that our non-interference in the Egyptian Uprisings also helped out a lot.  Because we don't go in as strong (as McCain and Graham always suggest), we don't screw up relations with the new Egyptian Government, so there is someone willing to take our call and listen.  And I also doubt Obama ordered the Egyptians to do anything.  It's not his style, and he wasn't in much of a position to order anything.  He picks up the phone, and makes a simple request, laying out how a non-violent resolution helps everybody.  The Egyptians listened, said sure, and sent their own Commandos in to save the Israeli Security personnel.  Done.  All in a night's work.

I appreciate the story, and this is pretty much what I voted for in 2008.