Obama's Dilemma: How will He Deal with Israel Over What the U.S. Will Do to Stop Iran Getting a Nuclear Bomb?
The administration, reportedly, is also worried that if the U.S. does nothing or does not stop Iran, American power will decline and the U.S. will not be taken seriously by other nations. That worry might reveal why the president has told his staff and the NSC to read Robert Kagan’s new book and the excerpt that appeared in The New Republic. The problem is the risks. The reporters write:
Obama’s calculus, however, has to take in other factors as well -- from the fate of Amir Mirza Hekmati, a former U.S. Marine sentenced to death in Iran last month for alleged spying, to the fate of every American and Iranian who would be involved in waging an overt war. Iran is a country of 80 million people, compared with about 30 million in Afghanistan or Iraq. Its territory of 1.65 million square kilometers, including deserts and rugged mountains, gives it impressive strategic depth. (Israel, by contrast, exists on 20,000 square kilometers.) Iran is a major oil producer and looms in perilous proximity to the most critical petroleum and gas supply lines in the world, from the Strait of Hormuz in the south to the Caspian Sea in the north. The United States would certainly aim to avoid a land war, but once bombs and missiles start flying, the endgame is hard to predict. What happens if Iran manages to sink an American warship? Or, more likely, what happens if an air assault only consolidates support for the regime while the nuclear program, only partly hidden today, becomes entirely secret? Is there a war of attrition? An all-out invasion? Yet another long, wasting war for America in the Middle East? Already many commentators are pointing out apocalyptic risks. Mike Lofgren, for decades a Republican staffer on the Hill, recently warned of a toxic mix of international tensions and American domestic politics analogous to Europe in 1914, when a relatively small and unexpected event triggered the first war to engulf the world.
Others are worried that economic sanctions might backfire, and the president might have to issue a waiver to protect the U.S. economy, which would “make the United States look like a paper tiger in the eyes of the mullahs.” The major difference now, they conclude, is that U.S. and Israeli officials differ over how much time is left for a negotiated solution. American policymakers, according to Israeli sources, think the world can wait until Iran is on the verge of weaponizing, while Israel does not have that option as a valid one for itself. Its leaders believe that it might have to act “before Iran could shelter much of its program deep underground.” And that means an Israeli strike before the United States believes military action should occur.
Israel, they report, has therefore asked President Obama for assurances that if sanctions fail, the U.S. will use force against Iran. That request was not met by a yes. “Obama’s refusal to provide that assurance,” they write, “has helped shape Israel’s posture: a refusal to promise restraint, or even to give the United States advance notice” should they decide to strike Iran.
Israel, created as a safe haven for the world’s Jewry in the shadow of the Holocaust, cannot avoid taking those measures that would prevent another one in our own day and age. They do not have the luxury of taking the Iranian leaders' continued pledges to destroy Israel as just mere rhetoric. And that goes against Obama’s policy, the writers conclude, that always stops “short of full-scale conflagration” in the hope that something else will succeed in stopping the mullahs.
As the election comes close, all of these questions relate to that of whether impending conflict with Iran will hurt or help Obama win re-election. What we now find is that the apologists for the mullahs are busy unleashing a new round of propaganda, arguing that the neocons are trying to push the U.S. into a new war with Iran, just as they did under George W. Bush with Iraq. Bush, they claim, lied us into war knowing that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction. Now they are doing the same thing, these propagandists argue, trying to mislead us about Iran’s peaceful intentions.
Hence, as Adam Kredo reports in the Washington Free Beacon, self-proclaimed progressive anti-nuclear organization the Ploughshares Fund has given funding to the Center for American Progress, J-Street, and the pro-Iran regime organization the National Iranian-American Council. Most significant is that it has given money to National Public Radio (NPR) that has led to stories and reports from its correspondents that reflect not just an anti-nuclear perspective, but which oppose any military option by the United States against Iran. In 2010 the fund gave NPR $150,000; they matched that amount again in 2011.