Does President Barack Obama now love Israel? Is he lying to help his reelection bid? Precisely what is the meaning of this or that sentence in his AIPAC speech?
All of this debate misses the point. What is needed here is not a partisan view or one which focusses on Obama himself but rather a strategic analysis.
Here it is:
Whether he realizes it or not, Obama changed history with his AIPAC speech. What he did is to make a war between Israel and Iran almost inevitable, let’s say more than 90 percent probable, most likely some time in late 2013, 2014, or 2015.
What a lot of people are going to miss is not that Israel now thinks Obama is reliable — it doesn’t — but that Israeli leaders know he has now locked publicly into a major commitment. If Israel ever were to attack an Iran on the verge of getting nuclear weapons, how is Obama going to bash Israel for doing so after telling it to do so? In effect, then, Israel has traded patience for freedom of action.
Obama laid out a very clear chain of events. If and when Iran obtains a nuclear weapon, then the U.S. government will support an attack by Israel on Iranian nuclear facilities. It might even join in with such an attack.
This is a commitment that cannot be retracted. It will apply whether Obama wins or loses the election. It will apply if he changes his mind. Some will see his action as heroic; others will see it as reckless. But it makes no sense to see it as false or to nitpick about his precise definition of Iran obtaining nuclear weapons.
Here is Obama’s simple chain of argument:
–The U.S. government officially and publicly recognizes that Israel cannot and should not accept Iran having a nuclear weapon.
–Iran having a nuclear weapon is a tremendous and unacceptable danger to U.S. interests.
–If Iran obtains even one nuclear weapon, that will prove sanctions have failed.
–Consequently, at that time Israel is entitled to use force to prevent Iran from having such weapons or to destroy any that exist.
–Indeed, according to Obama, Israel must attack Iran at that point. After all, if Obama says Israel cannot live with an Iranian nuclear capability, how can Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu be less concerned about Israeli security than the president? And how can Obama then ignore what he said would be completely unacceptable for U.S. interests by not backing such an attack or even participating in it?