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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

How Israel could solve Obama's Iran problem

Barack Obama has much bigger problems in Iran now than does Israel. Iran is able to ruin Obama's plans to get American troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan by holding the terror card in Iraq and by allying itself with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Meanwhile, Obama is frozen into inaction on Iran's nuclear program by his own rhetoric and his devotion to 'engagement.' What's an ally to do? The blogger Spengler (who is anonymous) at Asia Times says that Israel should act in its own best interest, because that's ultimately in America's interest too.
The Obama administration's shrill tone towards Israel reflects its domestic political weakness as much as its strategic problems. According to a March 7 poll by The Israel Project, Americans take the Israeli side against the Palestinians by a margin of 57% to 7%, with the rest neutral. A Gallup Poll released February 28 gives the margin at 63% to 15%, with 23% neutral. Only 30% of respondents told Gallup that they expect a peace agreement between Israel and the Arab states.

More to the point, 60% of respondents in a March 2 Fox News poll said they believed force would be required to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, while only 25% believe that diplomacy and sanctions will work. Fifty-one percent of Democrats and 75% of Republicans polled favored the use of force. Obama's job approval for handling Iran was at only 41%, with 42% disapproving.

An Israeli strike against Iran's nuclear facilities would polarize American opinion. And if the Obama administration attempted to punish Israel for doing what most Americans seemingly want to do in any event, the balance of American sentiment - if available polling data are any guide - would shift away from Obama and to Israel. Obama's party would pay at the polls in November.

No one cares about the Palestinians; to the extent that the charade of Israeli negotiations with the weak and divided Palestine Authority comes into consideration, it is because Washington still hopes that a show of progress might be helpful in addressing more urgent concerns in the Persian Gulf and Central Asia. Obama's investment in rapprochement with Iran is not a sentimental gesture: it is the pillar on which American regional policy rests.


One might speculate that a Republican administration - at least one headed by Senator John McCain - would have encouraged Israel to extricate the US from its present Zugzwang (imperative to move when any move is damaging) by attacking Iran's nuclear program. That, after all, is what allies are for. There is no Obama administration as such; there is only Obama, who appears to run the entire show out of his Blackberry. As David Rothkopf wrote in his Foreign Policy blog March 12, Obama's is "an administration in which seeking the favor of the president has taken on an importance that is in fact, much more reminiscent of the historical czars than is the role being played by anyone with this now devalued moniker".

As I wrote on this space February 18: "Israel has a strategic problem broader than the immediate issue of Iran's possible acquisition of nuclear weapons: it is an American ally at a moment when America has effectively withdrawn from strategic leadership. That leaves Israel at a crossroads. It can act like an American client state, or a regional superpower. Either decision would have substantial costs."(See The case for an Israeli strike against Iran, Asia Times Online, February 18)

The best thing that Israel can do for the United States in its time of befuddlement is pursue its own interests, for American and Israeli security concerns have one overriding commonality: the need to prevent rogue states in the region from acquiring nuclear weapons. In the the present test of wills between Washington and Jerusalem, the smart money is on David rather than Goliath.
Read the whole thing. It's kind of long but fascinating (I don't have a lot of patience for reading long articles these days - only for writing them. But I read this one).


At 1:09 AM, Blogger Thermblog said...

Spengler is not anonymous; he's David P. Goldman. Says so at the bottom of your link.

He outed himself about a year or so ago after he'd been rumbled by at least one sleuth.

At 7:51 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

The way to get the current US govt to attack Iran may be to convince him that they are against Obamacare


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