By Odd Man Out
Earlier this week, Benjamin Netanyahu stormed through Washington beating the drum for war with Iran, to thunderous applause by AIPAC members and Congressional neo-cons. President Obama appeared to strike a moderate pose on the issue, but it’s anybody’s guess whether Israel will pull the trigger in the near future:
The greatest danger the United States (and any peace-loving person in the Middle East) currently faces is that [Ehud] Barak and Prime Minister Netanyahu will spring an October surprise (or a surprise in any month between now and the first Tuesday of November) in the form of an armed attack on Iran….
President Obama’s attempt to handle this problem was reflected in his speech on Sunday to the AIPAC conference. He and his speechwriters pushed back as much as it was politically safe to do. In addition to recounting the ample evidence that “when the chips are down, I have Israel’s back” and recalling how his administration has mustered far more international pressure on Iran than his predecessor did, Mr. Obama spoke favorably and optimistically about diplomacy, rightly observed that there is “too much loose talk of war,” and talked about nuclear weapons as distinct from mere nuclear-weapons capability.
But staying with what is politically safe still leaves an unsquared circle. The president said more than enough about the unacceptability of an Iranian nuclear weapon to set the stage for Netanyahu to demand later that the United States do whatever it takes to prevent such a weapon.
In the nearer term, the president’s comments about how “no Israeli government can tolerate a nuclear weapon in the hands of” Iran and reference to “Israel’s sovereign right to make its own decisions about what is required to meet its security needs” sound almost like an invitation to Netanyahu to launch a war…