(/sites/default/files/uploads/2012/03/030512-obama-israel-2.gif)Imagine for a moment that Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khameini, at a Martyrs Day rally in Tehran, repeated his longstanding call for both the UK and France to be wiped off the map. Imagine then, that after failing for nearly a decade to persuade Iran to abort its nuclear program through diplomatic overtures and intensifying sanctions, the UK and France began advocating, in response to Khameini’s genocidal threats, preventive military action against Iran’s nuclear installations.
Not only would UK Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy unquestionably garner Barack Obama’s unconditional support, but the US President also would likely agree to do the heavy lifting for them.
How do we know this? Because less than one year ago Obama did just that in Libya. That is, the US led a NATO campaign at the behest of close allies to depose Moammar Qaddafi. And this despite the fact the Libyan dictator posed no threat whatsoever—never mind a mortal one—to either the UK or France. Moreover, Obama was so eager to accommodate American allies that he went to war in Libya without obtaining approval from Congress—arguably a violation of the US Constitution—and in a manner that vastly exceeded the parameters of the coalition’s so-called UN mandate. No amount of “leading from behind” rhetoric can alter this truth.
Yet here is tiny Israel—the US’s most stalwart ally in the world’s most strategically imperative region—having its real existential threat not only shunned by the same Barack Obama, but also publicly undermined by his most senior defense and intelligence officials. Granted Iran is no Libya, but can this alone account for the discrepancy in the way the US president treats his most dependable allies? No. And thus Obama’s inherent bias against the Jewish state should be undeniably confirmed to all. His actions also prove once again that Israel is held to unique, unfair standards, thereby reinforcing the importance of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s assertion that “Israel must have the ability always to defend itself, by itself, against any threat.”
We have two pieces of evidence indicating that Netanyahu’s core Iran policies were rebuffed by Obama during their meeting in Washington. These being: to persuade the US president to articulate clear “red lines,” preferably but not necessarily defined as Iran’s achievement of a “nuclear capability,” an second, in the absence of any willingness to directly engage Iran militarily, a US commitment to indirectly support (at the very least tacitly approve of) an Israeli-led strike. Should this bare-minimum not be met, another hoped for objective was that Obama would set three basic pre-conditions before agreeing to resume fruitless “engagement” of Tehran’s Mullahs: that Iran close its underground Fordow nuclear facility near Qoms, stop enriching uranium, and remove from the country all uranium enriched beyond 3.5 percent.
First, after meeting with Obama for the better part of last Monday, Netanyahu that night opened his speech to AIPAC with the following: “Thank you.… I want to thank you for that wonderful reception. This applause could be heard as far away as Jerusalem—the eternal and united capital of Israel [emphasis added].” The eternal capital of Israel, indeed—also a clear message to Obama. In effect, Netanyahu told the president: If you will not support Israel’s legitimate positions regarding Iran, then Israel, in turn, will not even consider your views regarding the “peace process” (conventional wisdom maintaining that Israel should cede East Jerusalem to the Palestinians as part of any deal).
Second, the day after his meeting with Obama, Netanyahu had this to say to US congressional leaders: There are historical precedents in which Israel acted according to its own interests, despite American opposition. Netanyahu noted that notwithstanding Washington’s opposition David Ben-Gurion declared independence in 1948; Levi Eshkol launched a preemptive attack against Egypt in 1967; and Menachem Begin decided to bomb the Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981. Coupled with Netanyahu’s stated commitment that Israel will always remain “master of its fate” in dealing with Tehran, and the writing is on the wall: the Jewish state will go it alone if necessary.
Obama, for his part, also weighed in, holding a “last-minute” press conference—his first in months—which immediately devolved into an attack on the “loose talk of war” emanating from leading Republican presidential candidates (who, by the way, addressed AIPAC earlier that day—see the connection?). Obama cautioned against “beating the drums of war,” and warned of “consequences for Israel if [military] action [against Iran] is taken prematurely.” Concurrently, World Powers, including the US, accepted Tehran’s offer to resume negotiations over its nuclear program without preconditions. The news no doubt reached Netanyahu on Capitol Hill.
Taken together, it appears Israel is on its own should Netanyahu decide to act in the near future. Alternatively, the Jewish state can trust that Obama “has Israel’s back” and that he will put an end to Iran’s nuclear program when Israel no longer has the capability to do so. Will Netanyahu accept Obama at his word? Highly unlikely. What that means is that the time has come for Israel’s true allies to rally behind her. She will need it.
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