Will some south Florida Democrats defect to Marco Rubio thanks to President Obama’s foreign policy?

I will be perfectly honest — I sat with folded hands in recent weeks as I watched some of my fellow progressives in south Florida take to social media to attack President Obama’s Middle East policies and cheer Benjamin Netanyahu on to victory in Israel’s recent General Election. Some of these same progressives have attacked the President and Secretary of State’s attempts to use diplomacy to bring about a peaceful settlement to the nuclear dispute with Iran, while parroting the arguments made by Marco Rubio and others on numerous issues of foreign policy. I understand some of the anxiety about Iran, but I have continuously advocated engagement with Iran as an important buffer against continued American tilting toward the despotic Arab dictatorships in the Persian Gulf region such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait.

The Obama/Kerry negotiations with Iran opens an important chapter in triangular diplomacy that should be embraced by progressives. But for some the perceptions of right-wing Israeli politicians creates a “reality” more important than what is actually on the surface – a deal that potentially improve Israel’s security AND re-position the United States properly in a region where we have made a mess with our short-sighted policies. Security for Israel is always of paramount importance to American diplomats and to claim President Obama has anything but this in mind as his administration negotiated with Iran was ridiculous. And as our interests in the Middle East evolve dealing with Iran I am confident will prove to be one of this administration’s lasting positive legacies.

The neo-conservative doctrine advocated most forcefully in 2015 by Florida Senator Marco Rubio, has led this nation into an endless state of war is actually a liberal idea that originated on the Democratic side of the aisle in the office of the late Senator Scoop Jackson (D-Washington) and eventually was adopted by elements of the Republican Party. Historically, Republicans had been less willing to use force than Democrats but that radically changed during the administration of George W. Bush. The neo-con takeover of GOP foreign policy realigned where the major parties stood on foreign affairs and during the Obama Administration, persistent criticisms of the President’s policy have come from the neo-conservatives. We have also seen persistent critiques from Democrats – I personally have felt the President has been naive in how he’s handled parts of the global picture including Putin’s Russia which I have long felt was a major threat to American and western interests. The neoconservative critique of the President seems to be particularly appealing to some Democrats in south Florida, whether it be on the issue of Cuba, Iran or the Middle East/Persian Gulf region.

The support for Netanyahu coupled with the critiques of Obama leave a particularly sour taste in my mouth. Why did  some Democrats feel the right-wing government in Israel that has  undermined the traditions of progressiveness and secularism in Israel, which has been historically a more liberal and open country than the United States is worthy of support? Why do these same people simply accept the Likud narrative about President Obama?

I understand the disappointment in President Obama’s foreign policy which has been at times very naive and willing to sacrifice American interests for idealistic goals. This is similar to the idealism of the Bush years which promoted the spread of democracy in the Middle East even though in retrospect it was clearly in American interests to keep the most despotic and right-wing regimes in power if they were secular (like Iraq, Egypt, Libya and Syria) or not associated with major terrorist organizations (Iraq and Egypt). Some people like myself warned before the Invasion of Iraq in 2003 that Iranian influence would grow in the region. This happened, and instead of becoming partners with Iran given the reality, saber-rattling towards Tehran intensified despite the truth that the US had empowered pro-Iranian regimes in both Baghdad and Kabul by use of force. The pivot towards Iran is badly needed in American foreign policy and in time it will serve to add layers of security for Israel that they do not currently enjoy.

The idea of liberals cheering on a conservative who has disrespected our President so openly has opened wounds that are indescribable.  Even the feeling that the opposition might be weak is not an excuse –  Would progressive Americans back the mealy-mouthed P.M. David Cameron in the UK General Election even though many think Ed Miliband is completely ineffectual and Nick Clegg is a sellout?  I find it unlikely, though Cameron has not been confrontational the way Netanyahu has been by any standard imaginable. But the idea of progressives openly backing a Tory candidate for British PM is almost unimaginable.

Foreign policy and the security of Israel are important – no doubt. Israel’s security and sanctity can never be sacrificed and won’t be by any American President in either major party. But my advice to some Democrats in South Florida who may think this administration has sold out Israel’s interests because Netanyahu and his allied American interests (mostly hawks and religious conservatives) claims so, and thus are willing to adapt a knee-jerk right-wing view of things is simple – if you feel as strongly as appear to, don’t watch the Democratic Primaries next year, watch the Republican ones .. and you probably will find your candidate close to home in none other than Florida’s one-term Junior Senator, Marco Rubio.

27 comments

  1. Blue Dog Dem · · Reply

    It’s about time someone wrote this.

    Good for you Kartik!

    I completely agree. The neo-conservative really liberal critique of Obama is based on Israel and AIPAC. They are more concerned with Israel than the United States.

  2. Ku Klux Kartik · · Reply

    Good to see anti-semitism is alive and well.

    Obama’s friends on the left cannot hide it. Hatred for Israel and non-secular Jews drives the left.

    Ku Klux Kartik shows his racism and clear anti semitism. In another day and age he could be jailed or deported back to India for this irresponsible and hateful use of “free speech”.

    How the hell would an Indian know what is American interests anyway?

    Fuck off and go back home to that rat infested over populated gulag you come from.

    1. Who is the real Ku Kluxer? Certainly not me. Read this article and respond with something more intelligent than a knee-jerk reaction.

      1. Ku Klux Kartik · ·

        This is a strictly racist post.

      2. I would say Ku Klux Kartik is clearly the racist.

  3. Why was my comment saying the opposition to Obama from some of these people might be racist deleted?????

    Backpeddling already?????

    1. Not backpeddling, I just think it is wrong and deleted it. Now I will respond. Jewish-Americans formed much of the backbone of the Civil Rights movement and early days of the NAACP and were largely responsible for funding the legal challenges to segregation in the south. So calling them racists is just plain wrong. IF anything they have been the most color-blind group in American society through the years.

      This is about something entirely different. Neo-conservatives be they Jewish or Christian.

      1. Ku Klux Kartik · ·

        Too bad dirty Indians got Civil Rights also. Take your Tandoori Chicken and get lost! With a billion of you out there and you multiplying like rabbits ever hear of contraceptions we will have more racist trolls like this on american soil unless we take action!

      2. And you are saying I am racist? By the way I was born in the United States FWIW.

  4. Well Obama has been terrible for Israel I think we all know that. They won’t abandon Hillary. She’s solid.

    AIPAC favors democrats often.

    1. SamFeldman (@SamFeldman) · · Reply

      The American left dislikes the rightwing Netanyahoo cause he is crazy rightwing. So the American left supports the fundamentalist (anachronistic ultra conservatives). Makes total sense to me….

      It’s not like there is an Israeli left, or Israeli peace movement, or an American Jewish leftist and peace movement. Don’t like the rightwing? Then, support the extreme rightwing…

      Someday this will come home to roost.

  5. It's 2015 not 2006 · · Reply

    Spot freaking on!

    Preach it Kartik!

    Sell it Kartik!

  6. get over it · · Reply

    Wow. Talk about being provocative.

    I think it is unfortunate. This article will be interpreted as anti-Semitic by many. Whether it is or not I won’t charge but it very well will be viewed that way.

    But I would expect nothing less than this site to ask the hard questions. But this might be the hardest of all. Could some Ds defect to Rubio? If he were the nominee I would expect it yes. Israel issue drives many voters as will Iran.

    1. Not sure how saying I support Israel and that it has been a traditionally progressive country is anti-Semitic. Really, I don’t.

  7. Dems in Action · · Reply

    Will somebody please tell me why some of you think Obama has been terrible for Israel? I see just the opposite. In the first 4 years of President Obama’s term he bent over backwards to be a friend to Israel. And, they spit in his face. Israel is not always right! Nettie has done nothing but denigrate our President and therefore our country. We don’t need Israel, they need us. We need mutual understanding and so far I haven’ seen it from Israel.

  8. Democratic Operative · · Reply

    The racist shots at Kartik are out of line.

    BUT…

    Here are the issues here.

    Neo-con is CODE for JEW

    Pro-Israel is CODE for JEW

    Siding with Neo-Cons against Obama CODE for JEW

    Supporting Iran is ANTI-ISRAEL and ANTI-JEW!

    A country that support Holocaust denial and wants to exterminate all Jews!!!

    This is a racist post but we must rise above racism in criticizing it.

    1. I will tell you who the racists are. The despotic Arab petrocracies in the Gulf region who Netanyahu has made a tacit alliance with over Iran. Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, etc. Places where people who look like me and share my name get their passports seized, get cooped up in housing not even fit for cattle and are dying at least once or twice daily building gleaming skyscrapers and soccer stadiums with oil money and American support. Those are the racists. My desire to pivot toward Iran has much to do with this reality.

  9. jrogers · · Reply

    I know Kartik personally and you wouldn’t find a more liberal minded person without a racist bone in his body. The fact that he’s accused of it because some people don’t like his point of view is absurd and wrong. What makes right-winger Netanyahu immune to criticism where his policies are beyond reproach? And Kartik seems to be talking specifically to progressive Democrats considering you would not find an Israeli leader in our lifetime so unabashedly aligned with American right-wing Republicans. There was a lot of focus on his address to Congress, but Netanyahu for years has openly courted and embraced Republicans and right-wing policies. He is right-wing in every sense of the term whether its domestic or foreign policy.

    And since when does the right-wing-left wing political spectrum become irrelevant when it pertains to discussing Israel? The Labor-Likud debate on the Palestinian issue among others has been hot for decades with Jewish voters both in Israel and elsewhere having different perspectives and points of view. Clearly, its still the case in Israel now. Netanyahu won his last election by a hair. So are the numerous Israeli voters who disagree with Netanyahu somehow out of line and anti-Semitic? Clearly, not.

  10. The alliance with secular liberal Jews and the Christian conservatives over this single issue has been sickening to watch. It has cost the progressive movement quite honestly.

  11. fldemwin2016 · · Reply

    I am Jewish and I have no issue with any of the points made. In the 90s, policies pushed by Labor and more moderate Likud leaders, brought Israel on the brink of peace agreements or at the very least progress in the Arab world with countries including Syria. The Labor-Likud debates within Israel are as polarized as our own country’s partisan debates. The idea of being pro-Netanyahu or anti translates to being pro or anti Jewish or Israel is absurd.

    However, if for some reason Netanyahu has earned a new fangled elevated status as a leader where he needs to be embraced no matter what, it should be interesting considering the party that embraces that point of view in full force is the Republican Party. In contrast, Hillary Clinton admitted that she has jousted with Netanyahu on the West Bank settlement issue among others. As a loyal Democrat, Kartik just seems to be posting his position which seems to be asking Democrats especially Jewish Democrats to hang in there with Obama in spite of the warts and there is a method to his policies that aren’t always obvious. This is likely going to be a close presidential election and Florida is likely going to be pivotal.

    I think its a worthy discussion. Good article.

    1. Jonathan · · Reply

      This is a worthy discussion. I am Jewish and have been ostracized here locally for expressing concerns about Netanyahu and Likud in general. It seems our community has shifted hard right as a reaction to Obama. Our brothers who are mostly Democrats are talking as if they would like a return to the gunslinging war mongering of George W. Bush. Heaven help us please!

      1. I am Jewish. I criticize Bibi and Israeli policies. My Jewish friends and relatives think I support Hitler. All others believe I hate Muslims and want to kill them all because I support Israel.

        Hey Kartik, can we move to India? We can then hate Pakistanis and Bangladeshis without any problem. Pass the dal and roti..

  12. Keeping it real in 16 · · Reply

    This is a TERRIBLE posting. I cannot believe I am reading this shit.

    This is totally anti-semetic. Code words are clear. It’s easy for you, a muslim to take shots at Netanyahu. Dripping with racial innuendo.

    Have your people gone through the Holocaust? The pograms? Your shitty ass people multiply and have animals roaming the streets. You piece of shit.

    Obama shares your world view. blame the Jews, blame America, and empower the Arabs.

    We will be discussing this with the ADL and other groups. A boycott might be in order.

    This post is a virtual hate crime in itself.

  13. Jackson Hewitt · · Reply

    Really good blog. Needed discussion with all these neocons spoiling our party.

  14. You can be critical of Israeli leadership and still support the country. I think Netanyahu has been a terrible PM, and has caused Israel to lose critical support from her allies.

  15. The Republican’s used Israel and BeBe for political purposes. A lot of stupid Republicans fall for that shit. I am disappointed that some of the your readers fall for it too. Israel must be kept a non-partisan issue. We need to support democracies and our allies period.

  16. […] It’s difficult to rationalize why exactly voters who reject Donald Trump would lend support to Marco Rubio. But the problem appears to be too widespread for comfort in southeast Florida, perhaps due to foreign policy issues. This week the “45 Committee” began running ads targeting Patrick Murphy on the Iran Nuclear Deal, something Marco Rubio’s campaign has exploited among some hawkish southeastern Florida Democrats for over a year now.  […]

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