It’s no secret that Iran is working to develop nuclear weapons. IAEA inspectors were recently given the cold shoulder by Iran:
In a crucial mission at a time of escalating tension over Iran, United Nations nuclear inspectors failed to make progress on finding out whether the Islamic republic seeks the bomb, and the International Atomic Energy Agency wasted no time in announcing this. A terse statement issued just as the IAEA inspectors’ plane was taking off from Iran reported that the mission was a bust. The team had been denied permission to see the suspect Parchin military testing site, despite “intensive efforts” to make it happen during the visit Monday and Tuesday. Iran and the IAEA also failed “to reach agreement on a document … (to resolve issues) in connection with Iran’s nuclear program, particularly those relating to possible military dimensions.”
It is problematic because Iran has been threatening Israel for a long time. In 2009 Iran promised Israel “destruction in 11 days.” Mahmoud Ahmedinejad has proclaimed that there is “No room for Israel in the Middle East.” Ayatollah Khamenei declared “The Zionist regime is a cancerous tumor and it will be removed.” (Jonathan Tobin observes that you’d never learn of that if all you read was the NY Times) Iran has gone so far as to threaten Israel with pre-emptive attack:
“We are no longer willing to wait for enemy action to be launched against us,” he told Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency. “Our strategy now is that we will make use of all means to protect our national interests. We enjoy the ability to show them all types of confrontation in case of a foolish act by the Zionist regime.”
Iran has steadily built up the rocket arsenals of Hizbollah, the Shia militant group in Lebanon, and Hamas, the Palestinian movement whose stronghold is the Gaza Strip, after both were depleted during military operations launched by Israel in 2006.
The two movements are believed to have tens of thousands of rockets capable of reaching cities deep inside Israel.
Iran has been obstreperous, defiant and uncooperative. So what does Barack Obama do?
He pressures Israel to not respond.
President Barack Obama, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and other top officials have delivered a string of private messages to Israeli leaders warning about the dire consequences of a strike. The U.S. wants Israel to give more time for the effects of sanctions and other measures intended to force Iran to abandon its perceived efforts to build nuclear weapons.
Stepping up the pressure, Mr. Obama spoke by telephone on Thursday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and U.S. Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will meet with Israeli military officials in Tel Aviv next week.
The high-stakes planning and diplomacy comes as U.S. officials warn Tehran, including through what administration officials described Friday as direct messages to Iran’s leaders, against provocative actions.
Why does Obama do this?
The cover answer is to allow sanctions more time to work. The Israelis do not buy it:
The Israelis have no faith that sanctions will deter Iran from its nuclear ambitions, even though its economy is indeed being hard hit by them. Fanatics that they are, the ayatollahs will see the economic crisis as an even greater incentive to develop their own bomb to help shore up their highly unpopular regime. After all, it’s worked for North Korea. Even more, these extremists think the bomb will make Iran a major power to reckon with, given all that oil in the Middle East.
The Iranians have been masters at using diplomatic negotiations to buy time for their nuclear program, so no one was surprised when they recently called for another round of talks. But this time the usually gullible Europeans can’t pretend that such a course would be successful.
But Obama’s actions are not about sanctions working. It’s all about one thing.
Oil is currently $108 a barrel. An Israeli strike on Iran would send oil prices higher than they are now. That would soon be reflected at the gas pumps, threatening whatever economic recovery (imagined or otherwise) is ongoing.
Obama claims Israel’s security is a high priority.
“Our iron-clad commitment to Israel’s security has meant the closest military cooperation between our two countries in history,” he said.
One must remember, though, that all Obama statements have an expiration date.
Obama has promised that the US would prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon but if Iran can get it done before election day they will not be stopped by the US. Obama’s kabuki dance is providing time for Iran to construct a weapon and harden its protection. But if Israel strikes Iran before November, Barack Obama loses the election. There will be no more “leading from behind.”
And getting re-elected is the only thing that matters to Obama.
Would Obama throw Israel under the bus to that end?