IMRA Weekly Commentary: Pres. Obama, Gen. McChrystal, Jonathan Pollard - Civics 101

Dr. Aaron Lerner - IMRA - June 24, 2010

"...our democracy depends upon institutions that are stronger than individuals. That includes strict adherence to the military chain of command, and respect for civilian control over that chain of command."

[President Barack Obama June 23, 2010]

With Israel Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu visiting the White House in two weeks, U.S. General Stanley McChrystal set the scene for President Barack Obama to give his team, America, and the world, an important reminder of a crucial core American democratic value.

A value that applies to the entire American security structure.

Bottom line: what the civilian president says goes.

It's U.S. Civics 101.

But for some reason, a lot of people seem to have missed that lecture when it comes to their analysis of the prospects for President Obama pardoning Jonathan Pollard so that he can finally come home to Israel and his wife Esther.

I have heard it argued at high Israeli levels that President Obama cannot free Pollard because various elements in the American security structure oppose the move.

Whether or not there are in fact elements in the American security structure who oppose pardoning Pollard isn't a make or break issue.

Because, as General McChrystal just learned the hard way, what matters at the end of the day isn't what various elements in the American security structure do or do not think. What matters is what President Barack Obama himself believes is the right thing to do.

And the right thing to do, as an American . gesture of freindship, solidarity and yes, reconciliation, with Israel, is for President Obama to use the opportunity of Prime Minister Netanyahu's visit to end the episode and release Jonathan Pollard.

It can all fit together.

A joint American Israeli interest to publicly demonstrate our deep ties in a gesture that isn't complicated by the need for a balance of countervailing gestures to the Arabs.

Prime Minister Netanyahu's restatement this week of official Israeli responsibility for Israel's agent, Jonathan Pollard.

President Obama's reminder yesterday to the American security structure that he calls the shots.

I fervently hope that the teams preparing Prime Minister Netanyahu's White Houses visit understand and appreciate the profound significance of this American civics lesson.

It can, indeed, all fit together.

And a wound that has remained open for a quarter of a century can finally be healed.

Dr. Aaron Lerner is Director IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)