Showdown Over Iran

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Relations between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Obama have been famously strained over the past three years, but their upcoming meeting this Monday may be the tensest moment to date.

While both sides have been tight-lipped about the topic of discussion, it’s clear the dominant issue will be how to deal with Iran’s nascent nuclear threat. Despite agreeing on the nature of that threat, the two sides depart dramatically in their assessments about how advanced Iran’s nuclear program is and the steps necessary to halt its continued development.

The Obama administration favors a more passive approach. In the administration’s view, there is still sufficient time to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. Believing that U.S. and European sanctions passed this summer can slow down Iran’s nuclear program, Obama has consistently argued that a two-track policy of stiffer sanctions and muscular diplomacy should be given a chance to work.

That assessment delays a military reckoning for Iran, but even administration officials concede that it is rooted in part on wishful thinking. James Clapper, Obama’s director of national intelligence, admitted in January that “so far” sanctions had not convinced Iran to change its behavior. Instead, he said, the administration was hopeful that continued pressure held out the “prospect that they could change.” Accordingly, Obama will likely pressure Netanyahu to hold off on a military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities until sanctions have been given a chance to work.

Netanyahu is unsympathetic to that view. As he has pointed out in the past, sanctions have been tried before, with little deterrent effect on Iran’s nuclear ambitions. The current Israeli view is that a strike will have to happen before the summer in order to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.

Still, Israel recognizes that the Obama administration is unlikely to support such an attack. That is one reason why Israeli intelligence leaked this week that Israel would not give the U.S. warning of an impending Israeli strike, thus leaving the U.S. with plausible deniability in the aftermath. Although that is unlikely to sit well with the Obama administration, Israel believes it has little choice, and little time, if it wants to destroy Iran’s weapons capability before it becomes fully operational.

If Israel’s red line action is lower than Obama’s, it’s because the Israeli assessment of Iran’s nuclear project is more dire. American intelligence agencies have hedged on the question of weather Iran truly seeks a nuclear bomb, as opposed to a nuclear program. Israel has fewer doubts. This week, for instance, Israeli officials pointed to the International Atomic Energy Agency’s findings that Iran has accelerated uranium enrichment, a precondition for a nuclear weapon’s program, and is increasingly moving its nuclear operations deeper underground, likely to avoid their being targeted in an aerial attack. It has hardly allayed Israel’s concerns that Iran, demonstrating its traditional contempt for international law, recently denied IAEA inspectors permission to visit a key military site.

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  • Snorbk

    Whilst this topic has ben debated elsewhere, I dont believe the main focus should be on whether the US should strike Iran on Israels behalf, rather would/ should the US support Israel if Israel decides that a pre emptive strike is required?
    Personally, I would place a higher degree of reliability on the intelligence gathered by Israel as opposed to that being relied upon by the US. One only has to look back several years to the supposed intelligence gathered by the US to support its case to strike Iraq & we all know how solid that was!
    On virtually every occasion that the US has decided to go to war in the belief that there was a direct or indirect threat to the US, it has requested & gained the unwavering support of its "friends", Korea, Vietnam, GW1 & GW2 being the most prominent examples.
    Given that the direct threat to Israel from a nuclear armed Iran is at very least credible & that Israel believes its very existance as a nation is at stake, should Israel decide the time for diplomacy has ended & action needs to be taken, it matters little what the US thinks.

    • CanadConserv

      This is about far more than Israel`s security and whether the US will do what it can to assist an ally.

      Iran's nuclear warhead carrying missiles pose an existential threat to not just Israel, but Europe, and soon enough the US too.

      A nuclear Iran means a completely out of Middle East control nuclear arms race. In turn that means terrorist groups will get their suitcase nukes, and we can be certain that the US no less than Israel will be their destination.

      To protect itself, the US should strike those Iranian facilities.

      • ObamaYoMoma

        If Iran gets nukes with impunity, it will inevitably become exponentially far more belligerent and aggressive. If oil prices today are at record highs due to Iran's belligerence, how high will they escalate once Iran gets nukes?

        What about the massive Saudi owned Pakistani nuclear weapons arsenal, which contains far more nuclear weapons than necessary to destroy India many times over? Indeed, many Sunni Islamic states have already indicated that they will acquire nukes in the event Iran joins the nuclear club.

        Hence, obviously that Saudi funded Pakistani nuclear weapons arsenal is far larger than necessary for a reason, so that those nuclear weapons can be proliferated throughout the Sunni Islamic world virtually overnight to counter a nuclear armed Shi'a Iran. Which, of course, will further ratchet up tensions in the Middle East. What impact on oil prices will those additional tensions also have on world oil prices?

        Not to mention as well that the Islamic world with its inherent imperative to make Islam supreme via conversion or force will become armed to the teeth with nuclear weapons.

        Thus, this begs the question, what is better for the West, temporary sky high oil prices to stop Iran, or permanent sky high oil prices that will inevitably destroy the economies of the West and probably at the same time precipitate a nuclear WWIII? The answer to me is a no brainer, then again I'm not a delusional self-hating leftists or a mentally incompetent blame America first Ron Paul kook.

        • CanadConserv

          Excellent points all.

        • Snorbak

          Many dismiss the ongoing Sunni/ Shia "problems". For a long time the Shia have harboured the resentment of being considered an underclass within Islam. Given that we currently have a lunatic in control of Shia Iran, desparately wanting a nuclear capability & who would very dearly love to teach Sunni Saudi Arabia a lesson let alone wipe Israel from the face of the earth, the world has every reason to be concerned.
          You are spot on in regard to an arms race, should Iran be allowed to gain a nuclear capability, you can bet your ass that Saudi & other gulf states will attempt do likewise.
          The potential for a nuclear exchange within the ME is a lot greater than many realise, especially now considering Irans close ties to Russia.
          I dont believe is a matter of if but when!

  • PDK

    Allowing Iran to get the bomb will embolden and encourage other Islamic states. I firmly believe Egypt is in the process of following the Iranian model, that the MB will come to power and strive for the bomb. Turkey has been becoming more fundamentalist Islam for the last twenty years and also will become more intoxicated by Irans achievement of the bomb.
    Isreal is in real danger. However Americas POTUS is not only anti Jew/Isreal, he is also pro Islamic. Islam is his real religion though he keeps it in the closet and on the hush hush.
    Hopefully, American military intel and clout will win the day with Obama before Iran has its achievement.

  • Don Carlson

    It seems the question whether Mr. Obama is merely ideologically blinkered and therefore unable to see what is needful in the actual world; or a perfidious character trying to exacerbate the decline of the west in general and the United States in particular is not to be answered yet. What one week looks like trade craft, the next week appears adolescent. And yet more and more Americans seem to think as he does!

    • NorthStar

      What's the difference in outcome?

  • davarino

    Obama has a lot on his plate. The only reason he is meeting with Net is to make the Jewish lobby here in the US happy, but nothing is going to happen. He is going to lie to Net and double cross him. Isreal is on their own.

  • maturin20

    You made Obama's head smaller and downcast. You made Netanyahu's head bigger and more sincere looking.

    • Sage on the Stage

      Yes, yes…that's right. Get used to it.

    • NorthStar

      Obama made his own head look smaller.

  • StephenD

    So what is the bottom line do you suppose? Will the US back Israel if they release a preemptive strike? Will they support them for the very real backlash that will surely come from other quarters (Lebanon, Egypt, Syria, et al)? Don't forget how timid Obama is when dealing with Russia and China. I don't think for a moment they will hesitate to put the pressure on us if we do offer support. You know it would be so conditional, so limited and time restrained that Israel had better have all its own contingency plans to go it alone. Small comfort for them but they should know there are many true Americans in their corner.

    • rcballi46

      The reply from Lebanon is going to be negligible – the Hezbolah may rear its ugly head, but they can be dealt with; Egypt is in a mess and doesn't have the ability to respond, and Syria has a civil war on its hands (probably by design) and is incapabable (or Assad is unwilling) to stretch his military that he needs to save his own behind.

  • mrbean

    A little history is in order. In 1996 a team of jihadists—financed and trained by Teheran—blew up the Khobar Towers building in Saudi Arabia, killing 19 American servicemen. Clinton’s administration learned that Iran was behind the attacks. But Washington brushed aside any notion of retaliating against Iran, in order to facilitate a “reconciliation” with that murderous regime. Obama’s appeasing diplomacy re-enacts the disastrous policy of the past. Our policymakers evaded Iran’s character as an enemy, and by rewarding its aggression with bribes and conciliation, they encouraged a spiral of further attacks. George W. Bush was no exception to this trend. After 9/11 his administration invited Iran—the leading sponsor of Islamist terrorism—to join an anti-terrorism coalition(!). Talk of an axis of evil was quickly abandoned, and Washington backed the European scheme to bribe Iran to halt its nuclear program. And here we are and we will never learn that Muslims only fear force.

  • Raymond in DC

    "After 9/11 his administration invited Iran—the leading sponsor of Islamist terrorism—to join an anti-terrorism coalition(!)." More recently the State Department constructed yet another anti-terrorism coalition with the US and TURKEY as co-chairs. Israel was not invited to join.

    That Iran was given "immunity" by Clinton for its involvement over Khobar Towers (while Iraq was targeted in 1993 for its plot to assassinate former President George HW Bush), is part of a long history of such indulgence. Reagan never targeted Iran despite their involvement in Hizbullah attacks on US soldiers and diplomats in Lebanon. George W Bush also refused to target Iran even though Iran was targeting US soldiers in Iraq. And Obama has only continued this tradition.

    • ObamaYoMoma

      Reagan never targeted Iran despite their involvement in Hizbullah attacks on US soldiers and diplomats in Lebanon. George W Bush also refused to target Iran even though Iran was targeting US soldiers in Iraq. And Obama has only continued this tradition.

      Let's look at the bigger picture. Reagan's priority at the time was putting the Soviet Union out of business. Say what you want, but at the time the Soviet Union represented an exponentially far greater existential threat. Hence, it was imperative that Reagan not take his eye off the prize.

      In addition, Reagan had convinced OPEC to lower world oil prices in order to bankrupt the Soviet Union whose main source of income at the time was from oil. In return, Reagan agreed to aid the Mujahideen in Afghanistan with their jihad to oust the Soviet infidel invaders, and the last thing Reagan wanted to do was anger the Islamic world so they would stop cooperating. Not to mention that low oil prices were enormously beneficial to America's economy.

      Moreover, Reagan's stance during the Iran – Iraq War was to provide aid to both sides in order to facilitate that jihad lasting as long as possible. Furthermore, we didn't leave Lebanon in surrender. We left it instead because it was stupid to be there to begin with. In any event, Reagan also destroyed Iran's navy in 1988 in operation Praying Mantis. Hence, when you consider Reagan's overall record with respect to Iran in totality, it is not quite accurate to state that Reagan let Iran off the hook for the Beirut marine barrack bombing, the bombing of our the US embassy, and the kidnapping and hostage taking, because he didn't. Not to mention that the US also did bombard jihadists positions on its way out of Lebanon.

      With respect to GWB and Obama, they are both incredibly incompetent when it comes to protecting and defending America from jihad and the scourge of Islam. In fact, under GWB the Republican Party, for all intents and purposes, was morphed into the second coming of the Dhimmicrat Party. Thus, today the Republican Party and the Dhimmicrat Party are actually two sides of the same leftwing coin. Which also explains our current financial trajectory today, the fact that at the same time we are still being invaded and infiltrated in mass, and the reality that both Iraq and Afghanistan inevitably turned into the two biggest strategic blunders ever in American history. Yet, we are still stuck and mired in Afghanistan that is already a complete and utter unmitigated disgraceful disaster.

  • W. C. Taqiyya

    A brief observation. Jacob, with reference to the fall of Arab regimes, I agree that all things Arab, Persian and/or Muslim pose a danger to Israel. When will that ever change? However, don't you think that replacing the Iranian proxy regime in Syria will diminish Iranian influence in that area? Further, while regime change is always uncertain, the fall of Bashar Assad will almost certainly deprive Iran (and Russia) of it's only Mediterranean port and effectively cut off the main supply route to Hezbollah. The ME situation is never going to be groovy, but we can be encouraged by some of the results of Muslim on Muslim violence. Left unmolested to swing their swords, the Sunni Arabs will be most pleased to do battle with their apostate brethren in Iran. Just saying.

    • W. C. Taqiyya

      Oh, and I meant to include my best wishes for world peace.

    • ObamaYoMoma

      However, don't you think that replacing the Iranian proxy regime in Syria will diminish Iranian influence in that area?

      It will also invite the Sunnis and the Muslim Brotherhood to take over Syria, and, of course, they will also inevitably violently oppress and systematically persecute, when not outright slaughtering altogether, all Christians and other non-Muslim unbelievers living in Syria. We already saw that play out once before in Iraq, and we don't need to watch it play out again.

      The better course of action today is to concentrate and focus only on stopping the Iranian ruling Mullah regime from acquiring nukes at all cost. Besides, Muslim on Muslim violence is wonderful for the West and horrible for the Islamic world. Hence, the more the merrier!

      Indeed, the USA should act ASAP to eradicate the Iranian ruling Mullah regime and to eliminate its nuclear weapons arsenal. Then, with Assad's poodle eliminated, the USA should endeavor to become Assad's new poodle, in order to keep a lid on the Muslim Brotherhood and the Sunnis.

  • Ghostwriter

    Prime Minister Netanyahu is living in the real world. President Obama continues to live in a fantasy world. He has yet to see that his strategy hasn't worked. He should listen to Netanyahu.

  • ObamaYoMoma

    It has hardly allayed Israel’s concerns that Iran, demonstrating its traditional contempt for international law, recently denied IAEA inspectors permission to visit a key military site.

    Uhm…what Islamic country doesn't demonstrate contempt for international law and for any and all manmade laws, by the way? The only law Muslims adhere to is Sharia law because it is the expressed will of Allah. Thus, because it is divine law it is perfect, perfectly just, and infallible, whereas all manmade laws are fallible and flawed by definition because humans are imperfect and only Allah (God) can be perfect.

    In addition, the first and foremost requirement of Islam, which is a supremacist theo-totalitarian ideology that masquerades as being a religion as opposed to actually being a religion, is all Muslims must totally, completely, and unconditionally submit to the will of Allah, where the freedom of conscience is forbidden and where blasphemy and apostasy are capital offenses, as Islam is 100 percent totalitarian. Indeed, freedom in Islam is an abomination. The only freedom in Islam is the freedom for Muslims to become more devout slaves of Allah.

    Now this doesn't mean that Muslims won't adhere to manmade laws when living outside the Dar al Islam for the purpose of covert and deceptive non-violent jihad in order to dupe gullible societies. They will do so to a limited extent necessary until they can eventually impose Sharia.

    As a matter of fact, you can't import Islam into your country without at the same time also importing Sharia and Jihad, as Sharia and Jihad are intrinsic to Islam. Indeed, Sharia is the will of Allah and Jihad, which is holy fighting in the cause of Allah against non-Muslim unbelievers to make Islam supreme and employs total warfare, is one of the most important pillars of Islam.

    • Snorbk

      Why is this so hard for the many to understand?
      I am no longer surprised by the downright stupidity of alleged educated people.

  • WilliamJamesWard

    Netanyahu has his timing right for confronting Obama, he gives the impotent potentate wiggle room_to claim credit for Israeli actions in dealing with Iran and thus get Jewish votes in the upcoming election._Netanyahu knows Obama knows if he interferes with the Israeli strike Obama looses credibility with_jewish voters with the exception of the leftist diehards. Obama could fool everyone and come out in_support of Iran's right to have whatever arms it wants and insure and Iranean bid for Islamist_supremacy, or not, he seems to favor the Muslim Brotherhood while fearing Iran…………William

  • Len_Powder

    Everything that Obama has done since the year opened has been measured to improve his re-election chances. He will say whatever he has to in order to win the Jewish vote and Jewish contributions. Americans have betrayed their monumental gullibility with Obama. He speaks in generalities, in platitudes, in contradictions, in ambiguities so that he can never be pinned down to anything he says. Netanyahu and Israel need to do what's in their best security. Obama has participated and aided in a scheme to surround Israel by enemies in order to make it capitulate or to allow the Arabs and Persians to strangle it to death. He has never been, nor will he ever be a friend to Israel, but he does realize the power and wealth that Jews possess and he needs them to support his re-election. If not for that, Obama would have exterminated Israel already.

    • Jim_C

      Boy, those Jewish leaders must be really, really, really stupid, to think Obama's policies, which are all a matter of public record (policies–as opposed to "generalities and platitudes," things every politician giving a speech uses) actually do support Israel!

      Or maybe it's you?

  • Chaim from The Bronx

    Obama is every bit the megalomaniacal maniac that the mullahs are, and he wants Iran to get the bomb and drop it on Israel as soon as they have it.

    Netanyahu knows this, and Obama knows that he knows it. It's a showdown all right.

  • http://www.fxexchangerate.com/ fxgeorges

    well it is up to israel wether they get hit while waiting on the usa and company to attack iran or israel faces the threat of iran and attacks the nuke sites. either way israel will be attacked , but the difference is that if israel does nothing , it will be attacked when and where and how by iran at its timing of its covert actions. every one that has a half of a brain knows the clock is ticing and time is running out and either way there will be a war, wether it is with a nuclear iran or not is up to israel.

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