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Sunday, March 04, 2012

Obama being urged to take more aggressive stance on Iran; NY Times implies 'Israel lobby' behind effort

The New York Times reports that President Obama is being pressured to take a more aggressive stance toward Iran in his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Monday. The Times sees it as a campaign orchestrated by the 'Israel lobby' 'Israel's backers.'
From the corridors of Congress to a gathering of nearly 14,000 American Jews and other supporters of Israel here this weekend, Mr. Obama is being buffeted by demands that the United States be more aggressive toward Iran and more forthright in supporting Israel in its own confrontation with Tehran.

While defenders of Israel rally every year at the meeting of the pro-Israel lobbying group, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, this year’s gathering has been supercharged by a convergence of election-year politics, a deepening nuclear showdown and the often-fraught relationship between the president and the Israeli prime minister.

Mr. Obama and Mr. Netanyahu will both speak to the group, known as Aipac, as will the three leading Republican presidential candidates, who will appear via satellite from the campaign trail on the morning of Super Tuesday. Republicans have seized on Iran’s nuclear ambitions to accuse Mr. Obama of being weak in backing a staunch ally and in confronting a bitter foe.

The pressure from an often-hostile Congress is also mounting. A group of influential senators, fresh from a meeting with Mr. Netanyahu in Jerusalem, has called on Mr. Obama to lay down sharper criteria, known as “red lines,” about when to act against Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

“We’re saying to the administration, ‘You’ve got a problem; let’s fix it, let’s get back on message,’ ” said Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, who took part in the meeting with Mr. Netanyahu and said the Israeli leader vented frustration at what he viewed as mixed messages from Washington.

“It’s not just about the Jewish vote and 2012,” Mr. Graham added. “It’s about reassuring people who want to avoid war that the United States will do what’s necessary.”
But Obama has apparently already decided not to go as far as Israel would like.
Mr. Obama will not lay down new red lines on Iran, even if he discusses them with Mr. Netanyahu, administration officials said. And he is not ready to accept a central part of Israel’s strategic calculation: that an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities would be warranted to stop it from gaining the capability to build a nuclear weapon, rather than later, to stop it from actually manufacturing one
. And, as usual, AIPAC is opposed by J Street.
To counter Aipac’s message, J Street has circulated a video on Capitol Hill, highlighting American and Israeli military experts who have voiced doubts about the efficacy of a strike on Iran.

“We are saying there needs to be time for enhanced sanctions and diplomacy to work,” said Jeremy Ben-Ami, the president of J Street. “We’re trying to calm down the drumbeat of war.”
I wonder if the Saudis have regrets over all the money their sympathizers have given J Street.

What could go wrong?

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