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“A statesman has not to make history. But if ever in the events around him he hears the sweep of the  mantle of God he must jump up and catch at its hem.”

– Otto von Bismarck

President Barack Obama hasn’t changed but the situation has, in part due to his actions. Obama will do everything possible to escape confrontation with Iran, but events, reinforced by his own statements and of course by Iranian behavior, will one day, if he is still in office, force him in that direction. Obama is not a capable enough statesman to grab the hem of the mantle of God, but he has managed — to coin a phrase — to entangle himself helplessly into it.

As usual, Shakespeare said it best, in Hamlet:

“For ’tis the sport to have the engineer
Hoist with his own petard, and it shall go hard”

The word “petard” in Hamlet did not refer to clothing but to a landmine that blew up the sapper who laid it. In other words, a tool intended for one purpose turned against its creator despite his efforts and intentions

I’ve already written a satirical article to make this point and now this piece makes the same argument in a serious style.

The debate over whether Obama is Israel’s “best friend” or just faking it for electoral purposes misses the point. The personality or even the intentions of the man who lives in the White House are not necessarily the main factor shaping international events. Often, what he says and does determines outcomes in ways he never intended.

In his AIPAC speech, Obama set forward a clear strategic approach: either Iran will stop developing nuclear weapons or an Israeli attack is justified. Whatever his intentions, that gives Israel a green light for such an operation. The only question is the timing and it certainly won’t be this year.

Much of the discussion over the speeches by Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the AIPAC meeting has revolved around false issues:

  • The claim that Iran is led by wackos who will attack Israel the moment Tehran has a single nuclear weapon and therefore Israel must attack right now or face genocide. This view has nothing to do with reality or the Iranian regime’s politics or actual history over the last 30 years.
  • The pro-Obama camp claims that Obama heroically reined in Netanyahu and prevented an Israeli attack on Iran right now. That’s a fantasy. Among other factors, Israeli leaders always knew they didn’t have U.S. or international  support for an attack and Israeli preparations for hitting Iran were by no means ready.

Within Israel it is well known that Netanyahu is a great talker who makes Israel’s case most effectively but is also a man who has never been a high risk-taker or advocate of military adventures.

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