President Obama clarified his statement from a speech Sunday Morning at AIPAC that he has Israel’s back at press conference at the White House this afternoon.
“What it means is that historically, we have always cooperated with Israel, with respect to the defense of Israel,” the president said in response to a question today from ABC's Jake Tapper.
But then Obama expanded the statement to say the relationship is not unique to Israel, but it’s similar to America’s relationship with its allies altogether. “Just like we do with the whole range of other allies, just like we do with Great Britain and Japan,” Obama said.
For Obama, however, having Israel’s back is “not a military doctrine that we were laying out for any particular military action”—that is, it does not relate to Iran. “It was a restatement of our consistent position that the security of Israel is something I deeply care about . . . [and] confirms how deeply we care about it.”
This statement might undermine what others took the president’s statement to mean. “Not a military doctrine” would suggest that America would not eliminate an Iranian nuclear weapon by using military force, even as some understood President Obama to be saying that Israel should trust him to eliminate an Iranian nuclear weapon should the rogue state develop one.