Mr. Netanyahu's mistake has been to assume that Mr. Obama basically agrees that we must prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. But the White House likely believes that a nuclear Iran, though undesirable, can be contained and will therefore not support using military force to thwart Tehran's nuclear ambitions.
What's more, Mr. Obama is also unwilling to let anyone else, namely Israel, act instead. That means that if Israel bombs Iranian nuclear facilities, the president will likely withhold critical replenishments of destroyed Israeli aircraft and other weapons systems.
We are moving inexorably toward, and perhaps have now reached, an Israeli crisis with Mr. Obama. Americans must realize that allowing Iran to obtain nuclear weapons is empowering an existential threat to the Israeli state, to Arab governments in the region that are friendly to the U.S., and to long-term global peace and security.
Mr. Netanyahu must realize he has not been banking good behavior credits with Mr. Obama but simply postponing an inevitable confrontation. The prime minister should recalibrate his approach, and soon. Israel's deference on Palestinian issues will not help it with Mr. Obama after a pre-emptive strike against Iran's nuclear program. It would be a mistake to think that further delays in such a strike will materially change the toxic political response Israel can expect from the White House. Israel's support will come from Congress and the American people, as opinion polls show, not from the president.
Mr. Obama is not merely heedless of America's predominant global position. He is also embarrassed enough by it not to regret diminishing it. In fact, we have achieved pre-eminence not simply to preen our American ego, but to defend our interests and those of like-minded allies. Ceding America's role in world affairs is not an act of becoming modesty but a dangerous signal of weakness to friends and adversaries alike. Israel may be the first ally to feel the pain.
Friday, March 19, 2010
Former UN Ambassador John Bolton says that President Obama would defend Iran against an Israeli attack on nuclear sites, as unbelievable as that may sound: