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Right Turn
Posted at 11:52 AM ET, 02/13/2012

Israel, Iran’s growing aggression and Obama

The Post reports:

The wife of an Israeli diplomat in New Delhi and her driver were injured Monday when the car they were traveling in was bombed, officials said. A second bomb was defused outside the Israeli Embassy in Tbilisi, Georgia, about the same time.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks. But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu immediately blamed Iran, which has vowed revenge for the recent assassinations of several scientists involved in Iran’s nuclear program. Hezbollah, which receives funding and strong support from Iran, also had promised to avenge the assassination of one of its leaders, Imad Moughniyeh, who was killed in a car bombing in Damascus on Feb. 12, 2008.

If this is the work of Iran or one of its surrogates, we have one more piece of data that Iran is growing ever bolder and more aggressive. The idea that we have “isolated” and weakened Iran’s desire for terrorism with sanctions is one of the many myths the Obama administration is perpetrating in an effort to stave off Israeli military action and quell domestic critics of his Iran policy. If this is Iran now, imagine Iran with the bomb.

Mitt Romney is out swiftly with a statement:

Today’s acts of terrorism against Israeli diplomats underscore the perilous nature of the world we live in. And they underscore the need to stand by our allies in the fight against jihadism. The war against Israel is a war against all democracies, including our own. We can’t afford to let down our guard. And we can’t afford to waver in our support for our closest ally in the Middle East.

His statement of course raises the larger issue beyond these attacks: Beyond President Obama’s public platitudes, what sort of assurances and support are we offering Israel on Iran?

In a must-read piece at the Daily Beast, we learn that Obama is trying to calibrate support for Israel with his own re-election campaign:

Obama’s advisers most concerned about the economy, for instance, have been at odds with allies in Congress most focused on preventing Iran from going nuclear. (It would take much less than an oil crisis to restoke panic about Greece and other feeble European economies.) Israel’s national interests are not always in line with Washington’s. And a messy war—or perceived weakness on Iran—could tip the election for the Republicans in November. . . .
From the get-go, Obama had a frosty relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. “There’s no question that tension grew between the two, because we felt like ... they had a different estimation [of the timeline for Iran to get nuclear-weapons capability],” says the Pentagon source, “and we felt like some of their [kinetic] activities undermined what we were trying to do. Obama’s view was, why would you remove the opportunity for a diplomatic solution for something that was so incrementally significant [as killing a scientist]?”

Understand what that reveals about Obama’s magical thinking on Iran: He thinks a diplomatic solution is possible, after all that we have seen from the Iranians, and he thinks that such a slight (in my opinion, non-existent) chance is worth Israel foregoing measures to stall Iran’s march toward possession of nuclear weapons. It’s hard to fathom, frankly.

But the real zinger in the piece comes close to the end:

The key question now is how much time is left to achieve a negotiated solution. Israeli officials say that the United States thinks it can afford to wait until Iran is on the very verge of weaponizing, because U.S. forces have the capacity to carry out multiple bombing sorties and cripple the Iranian program at that point. Israel, however, would not be able to carry out such a sustained attack and would need to hit much sooner to be effective—before Iran could shelter much of its program deep underground. One former Israeli official tells Newsweek he heard this explanation directly from Defense Minister Ehud Barak. “If Israel will miss its last opportunity [to attack], then we will have to lean only on the United States, and if the United States decides not to attack, then we will face an Iran with a bomb,” says the former Israeli official. This source says that Israel has asked Obama for assurances that if sanctions fail, he will use force against Iran. Obama’s refusal to provide that assurance has helped shape Israel’s posture: a refusal to promise restraint, or even to give the United States advance notice.

Talk about a buried lede. This is conclusive evidence, as if more were needed, that contrary to the wishful thinking of Obama’s supporters, the Israelis cannot rely — indeed they’ve been told not to rely — on Obama to take military action if needed to stop Iran. In other words, “all options on the table” is meaningless. Israel must act accordingly. And, not to put too fine a point on it, but Israel will need to act before the election. The only thing Obama really cares about these days is getting another four years, and his reaction to an Israeli strike pre-election will undoubtedly be more sympathetic than after he has won four more years.

By  |  11:52 AM ET, 02/13/2012

Categories:  Iran, President Obama

 
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