Obama or the Israelis: Whom Do You Believe?
Bloomberg, among other news outlets, reports that the U.S. and Israel are split over when to attack Iran's nuclear facilities. Perhaps for the U.S., in the person of Barack Obama, it's still more if the U.S. should attack Iran.
Middle East expert and former Clinton administration official Aaron David Miller is quoted by Bloomberg as saying that there's a "significant analytic difference" between the U.S. and Israel as to how close the Iranians are to an effective shield for their nuclear weapons program. Miller continues:
There's a growing concern -- more than a concern -- that the Israelis, in order to protect themselves, might launch a strike without approval, warning or even foreknowledge.Imagine that. The Israelis have a sense of urgency, based on their intelligence estimates, their geographic proximity to Iran, and the not trifling fact that the Iranians are world-class Jew-haters sworn to erase Israel from the face of the earth. And golly-gee, with national survival at stake, the Israelis may not come to President Obama for approval to act against Iran. Unthinkable.
How close should the Iranians come to possessing nuclear weapons capability before Mr. Obama decides to loose the dogs of war? Is Mr. Obama playing a game of chicken? And why? Not with our families' lives, say Israelis (and so should Americans).
Here's what Americans are getting from the Obama State Department, per Bloomberg:
The U.S. holds the view that "there is still time and space to pursue diplomacy" with Iran over its nuclear program, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said today in Washington. He added that the U.S. "is absolutely committed to preventing Iran from getting nuclear weapons."Right. Hasn't the United States and its allies been pursuing diplomacy with the Iranians -- for years now? What has that approach availed, other than buying time for the Iranians to proceed toward nuclear weapons capability? More diplomacy and sanctions are going to finally deter true-believers Khamenei and Ahmadinejad from possessing nuclear weapons?
One wonders if the Neville Chamberlain look is in vogue at the State Department -- you know, bowlers and umbrellas? You remember Neville "Let's Keep Talking to Adolph" Chamberlain? Chamberlain's insistence on diplomacy bought Germany time to further prepare for war and emboldened Hitler to act when he thought the time was right. One imagines that Khamenei and Ahmadinejad have photos of Hitler taped to their bathroom vanity mirrors for a little morning inspiration.
The Americans and Israelis may have very active clandestine operations underway to thwart Iran's nuclear ambitions. The assassination of an Iranian nuclear scientist may have been the result of Israeli actions -- actions sanctioned by the United States. But if the Israelis are judging that clandestine operations alone are insufficient to stop the Iranians, it's a good bet that they're right.
The Israelis acutely appreciate the costs of conventional military operations against Iran, in terms of earning yet more international opprobrium (if that's possible), stepped up terrorist attacks against themselves (and the U.S., by virtue of association), and outright military reprisals by the Iranians. But doing nothing -- or delaying too long -- may result in annihilation.
An exaggeration, you say? Annihilation? It's an exaggeration only to willfully naïve or blinkered Americans who refuse to take the Iranians at their word: kill Jews, and then kill Americans.