Analysis: The challenge

By David Horovitz November 6, 2008

Extracted from the ‘Editor’s Notes’ column, which will appear in Friday’s Jerusalem Post

Winning over his country, as Barack Obama did on Tuesday, was an extraordinary achievement for this improbable presidential candidate.

But that was the easy part.

In his victory speech, only the latest example of his consistently soaring oratory, Obama hailed the dazzling election outcome as a response from those ‘who’ve been told for so long, by so many, to be cynical and fearful and doubtful about what we can achieve,’ but who had nonetheless ‘put their hands on the arc of history’ and bent it ‘once more toward the hope of a better day.’

President-elect Obama’s challenge is not to disappoint them. America’s future depends on it. And so, to a considerable extent, does Israel’s.

Obama’s electoral success was built on insistent light and optimism – on that empowering ‘Yes, we can!’ mantra.

Obama’s presidential success will depend on outmaneuvering, deterring and ultimately defeating those malicious global forces that peddle darkness and misery, and are sneering to themselves right now: ‘No, you can’t.’

Blocking Iranian Islamist ambition is central to the vow at the heart of his victory speech: ‘To those who would tear the world down: We will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security: We support you.’

The stirring sentiment will count for nothing if this confrontation is ducked. For only by thwarting the death- cult Islamists can the new leader of the free world liberate the moderates who seek reconciliation; it simply won’t work the other way around.

The incoming president will have to make Iraq a priority, to honor his pledge for a speedy resolution of that conflict. But a successful strategy in Iraq also depends on quashing Iranian malevolence. The two must go hand-in-hand; Iran, its thousands of centrifuges spinning, cannot be temporarily put aside.

Weak Arab despots shy away from publicly and strenuously opposing Iran’s march toward greater regional dominance. In their skewed reality, if Iran is gunning for Israel, how can they object?

But they are only too aware that the mullahs’ threat is directed toward their regimes as well. Jordan, Egypt, the Gulf states – all are silently trembling. All are watching the confrontation between an emboldened Iran and an America that has appeared to be in retreat in this region. All are quietly praying that Obama can reverse that flux.

Meanwhile, Iran conveys immense amounts of materiel into a Gaza controlled by its partners in Hamas. And to the north, in Lebanon, Iran’s Hizbullah organization quadruples its pre-2006 missile arsenal, bringing all of Israel into range, deepening its subterranean infrastructure and, above ground, gaining ever-greater control of the government.

These are the flexing tentacles of those ‘who would tear the world down.’

These are the forces who would bend ‘the arc of history’ to dash all ‘hope of a better day.’

These are the bleak fundamentalists whom a president Obama will have to face down if he is to bring dependable support ‘to those who seek peace and security.’

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