The recent revelation that the Obama administration awarded U.S. taxpayer dollars to a group that helped a campaign to defeat Israel's sitting prime minister in last year's elections is reminiscent of the president's long list of dubious and ill-advised attempts to cause leadership change in other sovereign nations.
The call for regime change in Egypt, also successful, was even more astounding. President Hosni Mubarak had been a stalwart U.S. ally for decades, but the administration chose instead to support the Muslim Brotherhood — a group devoted to Sharia law — and its leader, Mohamed Morsi, after they won post-Mubarak elections. Morsi's assertion of dictatorial powers set off massive protests and nationwide violence. A bloodless coup finally restored order to the country in 2013.
In Syria, Obama and Clinton’s inept support of rebel groups and their phony drawing of "red lines" have resulted in chaos, violence and tumult throughout the country, including the mass slaughter of civilians and an exodus of 4.8 million refugees.
One would hope that Obama would learn from such seismic policy failures by refraining from further efforts to unseat foreign leaders.
But alas, he has not.
A new Senate report reveals that Obama's regime-change efforts were not restricted to regions in utter upheaval, but were also orchestrated in Israel, an allied country with a strong, functional, checked, liberal democracy. Just like ours.
According to the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations report, the State Department provided $465,000 in U.S. taxpayer funds in an effort to oust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The funds were transferred to an organization called OneVoice Movement, which purports to advance peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Instead of being used for that purpose, the organization allegedly redirected State Department funds toward a political campaign, spearheaded by a former Obama senior campaign aide, aimed at defeating Netanyahu in last year's elections.
Obama's effort to topple Israel's prime minister failed miserably. But it raises an important question: Should a U.S. president be interfering in other countries' democratic elections?
And how would Obama react to foreign interference in an American election?
As it turns out, we already know the answer. A year ago, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest criticized Netanyahu for accepting an invitation to address a joint session of Congress on the subject of the proposed Iran nuclear deal. Allies of Obama on Capitol Hill accused Netanyahu of meddling in the U.S. domestic debate over whether to support it.
Meanwhile, Obama himself has spoken out against foreign interference in U.S. elections. At his State of the Union address in 2010, he famously scolded the Supreme Court for its Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision, stating: "Last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests — including foreign corporations — to spend without limit in our elections. I don't think American elections should be bankrolled by America's most powerful interests or, worse, by foreign entities."
It is one thing for the president to attempt to influence regime change in regions beset in turmoil and disorder; regions where mass casualties are the norm and legitimate elections nothing more than a dream. Would only that the president had used his influence adeptly in those regions. But while Obama claims to oppose foreign interference in America's democratic elections, he seems to hold no reservations whatsoever about interfering in those of other liberal, democratic countries.
To date, Clinton, now the Democratic nominee for president, has remained silent on the revelations that State Department funds abetted efforts to unseat Israel's prime minister. Might she sympathize with those efforts? Or could her reticence owe to the disturbing irony that State Department officials admit to having deleted emails about the anti-Netanyahu campaign?
Either way, Donald TrumpDonald TrumpThe Hill's 12:30 Report David Friedman, ambassador to Israel, the crown jewel of Jewish pride Trump daughter-in-law joins Trump campaign digital vendor: report MORE, her Republican opponent this November, finds the conduct appalling. He sees it as merely the latest example of President Obama's efforts — and those of his preferred successor — to antagonize America's allies and reward her adversaries. In a Trump administration, the U.S. will work tirelessly to mend the frayed trust of its allies, rebuild its prestige abroad, and restore its respect for the sovereignty and democratic traditions of other countries.
Greenblatt is an executive vice president and chief legal officer of the Trump Organization, co-chairman of Donald Trump's Israel Advisory Committee and co-founder of the popular parenting and family website www.inspireconversation.com. You can follow him on Twitter @JasonDovEsq.
The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.