'Israel or Iran' is not a zero sum gamezero sum game.
But the U.S.-Israel crackup isn’t a tabloid romance gone sour. The differences between the two countries are rooted in the administration’s reckless pursuit of an entente with Iran at the cost of its friendships with both Israel and moderate Arab states. That pursuit began in Obama’s first months in office, and nothing Netanyahu could have done or said would have deterred the president from this course of action. His success was achieved by a series of American concessions on key nuclear issues and not by pique about Israel’s stands on the peace process with the Palestinians or perceived rudeness on the part of Netanyahu.
Despite the attempt to portray Netanyahu’s interventions in the debate about Iran as a partisan move or an insult to Obama, keeping silent would not have advanced Israel’s interests or made more U.S. surrenders to Iran less likely. At this point, Israel has no choice but to remind U.S. lawmakers of the terrible blow to American credibility and regional stability from the Iran deal. It is the White House that has turned the Iranian nuclear threat — which was once the subject of a bipartisan consensus — into a choice between loyalty to the Democratic Party and its leader and friendship for Israel.
It is almost a given that the next president — no matter who he or she might turn out to be — will be friendlier to Israel than Obama. But the president’s legacy may not only be the strengthening of a terror state in Tehran. It has also chipped away at the U.S.-Israel alliance in a way that will make it that much harder to maintain the across-the-board pro-Israel consensus in Congress in the coming years. Given the growing dangers that the deal poses to Israel this is something that should have both Republicans and Democrats deeply worried.Coming into office, Obama had two independent foreign policy goals in the Middle East: To weaken or destroy the United States' relations with what he sees as 'neo-colonialist' Israel, and to bring Iran back into the fold of nations. Each goal has been pursued independently. The goal of weakening the alliance with Israel has been pursued through the Obama administration changing the terms of the 'peace process' as much as it has been played by making Iran a strong enough power to check Israel. The goal of bringing Iran back into the fold of nations has been pursued through the nuclear sellout. There is nothing Netanyahu or any other Israeli leader could have done to stop Obama on either front.
The moderate Arab states are collateral damage. For different reasons than Israel, they oppose a nuclear Iran and they oppose (although they cannot say so), the creation of a 'Palestinian' terror state in the Middle East. The fact that the two goals coincide on many levels doesn't mean that an alliance with Israel was traded for one with Iran. Each goal was pursued separately.
And none of this has anything to do with Obama's personal relationship with Netanyahu. Shimon Peres could have been Prime Minister and Moshe Dayan could have been Foreign or Defense Minister and they still would have clashed with Obama. Like the 'Palestinians,' Obama sees all of Israel as 'occupied,' and not just the territories liberated in 1967.