Netanyahu and Obama: Seeing “Red” Over Iran


UPDATE 9 am Israel time Saturday:

There were more incidents of Palestinian terrorist “rock” throwing overnight in Judea and Samaria–particularly near the Palestinian settlement of Balata. No physical injuries have been reported.

TODAY’S BLOG:

How much longer will it be until Iranian missiles like these are tipped with nuclear warheads?

For months, PM Benjamin Netanyahu has been proclaiming to anyone who will listen that “the clock is running out” on taking military action against Iran’s nuclear program and that Tehran is fast approaching “a zone of immunity.”  To this end, Netanyahu has continually pointed out that international sanctions are not slowing down the Iranian nuclear program, and that President Obama should publicly declare American “red lines” concerning what will trigger a U.S. military strike–if there is to be any hope at all of stopping the Iranian nuclear juggernaut.

In a rather extraordinary editorial this morning, the Washington Post newspaper has agreed.

Normally a mindless supporter of President Obama and merciless critic of PM Netanyahu, the Post’s Editorial Board had this to say about the “acute” and “damaging” disagreement between Obama and Netanyahu over the “urgency” of military action (note the indirect reference to the bizarre “I don’t want to be complicit in an Israeli attack on Iran” comment earlier this week by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey):

“It conveys to Iran that there is no need to worry about a war; certainly, the country’s leaders have been behaving as if they feel no pressure to compromise. It also creates the bizarre spectacle of senior U.S. military and diplomatic officials focusing their time and attention on trying to prevent an Israeli attack rather than an Iranian bomb.”

In essence, while writing that it is “inclined to agree with” Obama “that there remains ‘time and space for diplomacy'”, the Post nevertheless is critical of President Obama’s vague declarations:

“But if Mr. Obama really is determined to take military action if Iran takes decisive steps toward producing a bomb, such as enriching uranium to bomb-grade levels or expelling inspectors, he would be wise to say so publicly. Doing so would improve relations with Mr. Netanyahu and deter unilateral Israeli action — and it might well convince Iran that the time has come to compromise.” 

Did your humble servant read that right?  President Obama needs to take action in order to improve relations with PM Netanyahu and Israel? In our little Israeli world in which we are endlessly told by the Israeli media and every one of its cohorts on the Israeli “left” that it is PM Netanyahu’s responsibility, and his alone, to improve deteriorating relations with President Obama and the United States that Netanyahu supposedly caused, the Post declaration about Obama responsibility is downright flabbergasting.

And to have the Post agree with Netanyahu that such a declaration might actually cause Iran to compromise is a stark recognition of the fact that the cliched “all options are on the table” is just not working (of course, most rational people realize that Iran will never compromise on its nuclear program).

Finally, there is little doubt in your humble servant’s mind that PM Netanyahu is now actively looking for an exit strategy to delay a unilateral Israeli attack on Iran in the coming months. The events of the last week here in Israel which featured the supposed “grand architect” of the Iranian attack plan, Ehud Barak, suddenly doubting the urgency of an attack before November, have left Netanyahu without visible support for a unilateral attack any time soon.  As the Washington Post editorial points out, an Obama declaration of red lines would almost certainly deter one.

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