Op-Ed: Obama Squandered a Golden Opportunity in Iran - Can a GOP Congress Now Take Action?


In November, both the U.S. and Israel held monumental elections.

For America, it was the highly-contested midterm races for the House and Senate. In Israel, the entire parliament (called the K’nesset) was up for election.

The rather bizarre hybrid government of left-leaning Yair Lapid and right-leaning Naftali Bennett and their smorgasbord coalition — all allied by little more than opposition to Israeli political giant Benjamin Netanyahu — had finally collapsed after a year of chaotic bickering.

While the election results in the U.S. are still being contested (especially in Arizona), the Republican Party has successfully seized the House of Representatives from Democratic control. In Israel, Netanyahu and other right-leaning political figures and their respective parties had a strong turnout, securing a solid majority for their right-wing coalition.

(As a side note, the election in Israel only used in-person paper ballots, and the votes were counted for the most part within 24 hours, as opposed to the U.S., where malfunctioning computers, midnight dumps of mail-in ballots, and weeks-long counting processes have suddenly become “normal” in the past two election cycles.)

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As Netanyahu works to form his new government, it is clear that he will return to lead the Jewish state as prime minister. Perhaps more noteworthy, however, is the sudden rise to prominence of a controversial right-wing political figure named Itamar Ben-Gvir, who in some ways could be dubbed the Israeli Marjorie Taylor Greene.

Previously, Ben-Gvir had struggled to achieve a position of any kind of significance in the Israeli government, and had been lambasted by some as being too far-right and therefore a “violent racist.” But in the recent election, Ben-Gvir soared in the polls, effectively becoming the third most popular and successful parliamentarian in Israel (after only Netanyahu himself and the temporary incumbent, Lapid).

According to some reports, the Biden administration took note of Ben-Gvir’s expected rise in the Israeli political sphere before the election.

In September, a Biden administration official was quoted as saying, “[Ben-Gvir being part of the Israeli government] would be a huge problem for us. … Look at Ben Gvir’s history, his actions, his statements. This is not someone we want to see as part of the [Israeli] government. Netanyahu is very smart and experienced and understands the consequences of such a development.”

In other words, the Biden administration apparently attempted to interfere in the Israeli election by emphasizing its expectation that a certain right-wing politician would be sidelined in the upcoming government should he win. And — spoiler alert — Ben-Gvir did win with an outstanding turnout.

It seems that Netanyahu paid little attention to the thinly veiled and highly inappropriate threats of the Biden administration, instead granting Ben-Gvir his requested position as the national security minister, who oversees the Israeli police forces.

At any rate, regardless of the wishes of President Joe Biden and the Democratic Party, the reality is that Republicans will control the House in America, and Netanyahu and his right-wing coalition — including Ben-Gvir — will dominate the government in Israel. And that reality, along with the continued popular revolt in Iran, brings us back to the Obama-Biden era.

In June of 2009, protests and riots broke out all over Iran after the incumbent Iranian president, the radical tyrant Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, declared victory in the election despite accusations of fraud and suspicious irregularities, including exceedingly high voter turnout (in some cases more than 100 percent) as well as supposedly swinging voters in his favor in eyebrow-raising defiance of visible political trends. (Hmm… Now why does that sound familiar?)

For a year and a half, the people of Iran seethed in fury, rallying behind the much more moderate and tolerant opposition candidates who were presumed to be victorious in reality. Despite the obvious illegitimacy of Ahmadinejad, who was virulently hateful of both the U.S. and Israel and obsessive in his aspiration to acquire nuclear weapons, the Obama-Biden administration seemingly did little to nothing to bolster the legitimate Iranian opposition, even though the U.S. maintained a strong military presence in neighboring Iraq and Afghanistan at the time.

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To be clear, strong support and various forms of assistance for the legitimately elected moderate opposition would presumably have resulted in a regime that abandoned most or all of the Islamic Republic’s unbridled hatred for the U.S. and Israel, ceased the sponsorship of global terrorism, and likewise scuttled the Iranian nuclear weapons program.

Instead of seizing this unprecedented opportunity, then-President Barack Obama was apparently more focused on his own agenda, which was notoriously characterized by his worldwide “apology tour” in which he expressed his shame for being affiliated with the country he led. To Obama and Biden, such policy matters were clearly more important to them than taking a stand on behalf of democracy and the peace-loving population of Iran against nuclear-minded, illegitimate, radical Islamist tyrants.

With the Obama-Biden administration catering to dangerous Muslim extremists and dictators who screamed for the destruction of the Jewish state, it was no surprise when Netanyahu began to butt heads with Obama. In many ways, this feud resulted in Netanyahu visiting the U.S. in March 2015 to speak to the Republican-controlled Congress about the looming and unacceptable threat of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons. Obama and Biden both refused to attend the speech. In fact, they snubbed their noses at the Israeli premier, refusing to even meet with Netanyahu in any capacity.

Now, as we approach 2023, many of the cards on the proverbial table are oddly similar: Biden is in the White House, Republicans control the House, Netanyahu is the prime minister of Israel, Iran is surging toward nuclear weapons and sponsoring global terrorism, and the Islamic Republic is also reeling from internal political instability that could topple the government and thereby cleanly terminate the country’s agenda of terror and nuclear holocaust.

We are left to speculate if Netanyahu will once again appeal to a Republican Congress to help stave off Iran and the related foreign policy disaster unfolding under the watch of Obama’s former sidekick. And if Netanyahu does take such a course of action, will the Republicans in Congress be able to effectively take action to bring Iran to peaceful moderation — a golden opportunity previously squandered by Obama and Biden more than a decade ago?

Only time will tell… But Netanyahu’s rhetoric and political history leave few in doubt that he and the state of Israel under his leadership simply will not tolerate a radical Islamist, nuclear-armed regime in Iran.

The views expressed in this opinion article are those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by the owners of this website. If you are interested in contributing an Op-Ed to The Western Journal, you can learn about our submission guidelines and process here.

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Ben Kerido is an American-Israeli special forces operator and former U.S. Department of Defense contractor focusing on psychological warfare training and now serving in the Israel Defense Force reserves. He and his wife Sarai live in Jerusalem and are writers for Intrepid Tower Publishing and hosts of the "From Israel with Love" podcast. They are also the authors of five books, including "The American Holocaust: Early Tomorrow Morning," an Orwell-style thriller and satirical parody of the American and Middle Eastern political and military arenas.