Let’s say you’re Israel. An enemy dedicated to your destruction is developing the means to wipe you off the face of the earth, with the covert and overt help of world powers like Russia and China. It’s only a matter of months before that enemy achieves its goals – and when it does you will not be able to stop the mushroom cloud rising over your cities.
So you come up with a sophisticated military plan to strike your foe in an extraordinarily targeted fashion. And you ask for the help of your longtime ally – virtually your only ally – the United States. All you want is covert logistical support … and secrecy. Secrecy is of the utmost importance, since a full-scale aerial assault on your enemy is unfeasible.
Let’s say you’re Israel. What would you say if the United States promptly proceeded to broadcast your military plans to the rest of the world?
Two little words come to mind. And neither of them is “thanks.”That’s precisely what happened this week, when Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced via the Washington Post that “there is a strong likelihood that Israel will strike Iran in April, May or June – before Iran enters what Israelis described as a ‘zone of immunity’ to commence building a nuclear bomb.” What was the point of spilling the beans? To scuttle the attack, of course. According to the Post, “President Obama and Panetta are said to have cautioned the Israelis that the United States opposes an attack, believing that it would derail an increasingly successful international economic sanctions program and other non-military efforts to stop Iran from crossing the threshold.”
This has become pattern for the Obama Administration. Back in June 2010, you’ll recall, the London Times reported that the Saudi Arabians had cut a deal with the Israelis to allow them to use Saudi airspace for a strike on Iran. Where did the Times learn this? According to the Jerusalem Post, “The report cited a US defense source as saying the Saudis have already done tests to ensure no jet is shot down in the event of an Israeli attack. The source added that the U.S. State Department is aware of the agreement.”
Well, isn’t that odd – two blown secrets, two references to the U.S. Defense Department.
The real problem isn’t just the blown secret, of course. It’s the signal it sends to the Iranian regime. By letting the cat out of the bag, the United States has signaled to the Iranians that the Israelis are on their own – that the Israelis are in fact a rogue state operating outside the bounds of conventional international politics. By signaling open opposition to the Israelis defending themselves, the Obama Administration has demonstrated to the Iranians in crystalline fashion that even if Iran develops weapons, and even if the Iranians hand those weapons off to a terrorist group for use against Israel, America may stand idly by. There is an obvious question here: why? Why is the Obama Administration so intent on stopping an Israeli attack on the Iranian nuclear facilities?
There are three answers. The first is ideological, the second political, the third electoral.
First, the ideological. President Obama believes that he is a global leader, and that in order to be viewed as a global leader, he must play “honest broker” between America’s allies and her enemies. That means that if Israel has covert nuclear weapons, Iran might as well have them too – for the sake of fairness, you understand. Obama has made every effort throughout his tenure to reach out to Islamists across the Middle East, from Tunisia to Libya to Iraq to Egypt to Afghanistan – and he has succeeded in empowering Islamists to attack Western interests across the region. In Obama’s “world citizen” view, this is a good thing: if America is willing to subsume her own interests in favor of the interests of others, Obama believes, such international altruism will bear the fruits of peace.
Second, the political. There is something bizarre about using the Defense Department as a leak-source for anti-Israel activity. Typically, the Arabist State Department is all too happy to undermine Israel; the Defense Department, which works closely with the Israelis, is the friend of Israel in the room. But Obama has a political problem: he’s seen as weak. That means he must use the Defense Department as a tool for his pusillanimous foreign policy. Ripping the steel out of the Defense Department’s spine has become a mission for the Administration; if Obama can get the Defense Department to fall in line behind him, he can look the hawk while playing the dove.
Finally, the electoral. Wonder why Panetta said Israel might attack in April, May, or June? Why not July, August, September? The answer’s obvious: Obama is hoping to delay an Israeli strike for several months. If it does happen close to the election, he’ll back Israel’s play to make a stab at the Jewish vote in Florida. It would create a rally-round-the-flag situation for many Americans close to November 6 – a perfect storm for Obama.
All of these considerations undoubtedly came into play. Only one consideration did not: the safety and security of America’s strongest ally in the Middle East. That was a minor matter for Obama and his cronies. After all, when you’re president of the world, what does a few hundred thousand Jews matter here or there?