A virtual media storm has erupted at the suggestion that President Trump might renege on President Obama’s agreement to take up to 2000 refugees off Australia’s hands presently languishing on Manus Island and Nauru (“Obama-Australia Commitment”.
The Obama-Australia Commitment was made in the dying days of Obama’s eight years' reign as president in November 2016.
Yet the same media remained silent for the last eight years as President Obama reneged on President Bush’s agreement supporting Israel’s unilateral disengagement from Gaza and part of the West Bank, as well as advancing President Bush’s Roadmap designed to end the 80 years long unresolved Jewish- Arab conflict (“Bush-Israel Commitment”).
The differences between the Obama-Australia Commitment and the Bush-Israel Commitment could not be starker for the following reasons:
1. Search as you might, you cannot find what the Obama-Australia Commitment specifically states.
Dara Lind sums up this “agreement” as follows:
“The details of the agreement were a little fuzzy. It wasn’t clear how many refugees the US would end up taking, and there was some confusion about what role the UN High Commissioner for Refugees would play in the process. While Australia’s top immigration official, Michael Pezzullo, called the deal “an agreement entered into through diplomatic means,” it’s not clear whether a text was ever actually signed.”
On the other hand the Bush-Israel Commitment comprises a letter from President Bush to Ariel Sharon dated 14 April 2004 – which can be read here
2. There is a strong suggestion that the Obama-Australia Commitment was concluded in some sleazy backroom deal between the Australian Embassy in Washington and the US State Department that would see refugees from Central America presently housed in camps in Costa Rica being resettled in Australia.
On the other hand the Bush-Israel Commitment was openly discussed in the US Congress and endorsed in the House – 407 votes to 9 – and in the Senate – 95 votes to 3.
Obama had no qualms in sticking it to his own Democratic Congressional colleagues – including Hillary Clinton – voting in favour then as a Senator – by ignoring their almost unanimous support for the Bush-Israel Commitment.
Instead Obama led America down the garden path for five years to one of the worst diplomatic and policy failures of his presidency – antagonising Israel in the process.
Israel paid a huge price for its Gaza disengagement in 2005 in reliance of the Bush-Israel Commitment – including:
* the expulsion of 8000 Jews who had lived in Gaza for periods of up to forty years,
* the indiscriminate firing of tens of thousands of rockets into Israeli population centers reaching as far as Tel Aviv
* three military incursions into Gaza to try and end the violence emanating from the Hamas-controlled enclave.
Yet the media never attacked Obama for disgracefully betraying his predecessor’s commitment to a close ally.Now an infuriated President Trump has the supposed gall to tweet:
"Do you believe it? The Obama Administration agreed to take thousands of illegal immigrants from Australia. Why? I will study this dumb deal!"An outraged media see this as a perfect opportunity to thump Trump – as do many politicians.
In doing so they betray their own appalling double standards and biases that sees so many readers abandoning their publications – and voters their political parties – in ever increasing numbers.
Outrage at Trump possibly not confirming the Obama-Australia Commitment stands awkwardly alongside the deafening silence following Obama’s repudiation of the Bush-Israel Commitment. Both are worthy of endorsement by President Trump on his terms – assisting two tried and trusted allies in their time of need.
That’s what friends are for.