In another bit of misdirected bluster, the Obama administration warned Israel that strikes against targets in Iran could have dire consequences. Israel is increasingly concerned with Iran’s nuclear designs, and it may be considering actions aimed at taking down the threat posed by the potential of Iran being armed with nuclear weapons. According to the Wall Street Journal article, President Obama was on the phone Thursday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in an attempt to get Israel to stand down. Obama’s argument is that they want to give sanctions time to work, but they haven’t worked thus far, and while there is talk of tightening those sanctions, Tehran has shown little willingness to budge. This is part of the problem with US foreign policy over the last to decades: We struggle to keep thugs in check while demanding Israel stand down as they absorb attacks from every direction.
That policy prevailed during the 1991 Gulf War, as Saddam Hussein used Scud missiles against Israel in an attempt to provoke a response from Israel that offered the possibility of fracturing the coalition that included many Muslim nations in the region. We moved batteries of Patriot missiles to Israel, and we had our forces scouring Iraq for the launchers, and all the while, President George H.W. Bush kept Secretary of State James Baker in constant contact with the Israelis, trying to keep them from acting in their own defense. Of course, this was a different question, with the Scud missiles being armed with conventional munitions, and the ability of the Patriots to knock some of them down, it helped keep things from getting out of control politically.
This situation involved the development of nuclear arms, and if Iran comes into possession of them, they have promised repeatedly to use them against Israel. Given the small region that is the Jewish state, there’s no way they can absorb even one hit with nuclear weapons without devastating their population. It cannot be permitted to occur, and on this basis, I am certain the Israeli government is considering all sorts of remedies that likely include military strikes against relevant targets in Iran. Last year, the Israelis were in talks with the Saudis in order to secure over-flight permission, should it come to that, and the only reason the Saudis would consider it is that they don’t want a nuclear-armed Iran any more than Israel does, because they could just as easily become a target of the rogue regime in Tehran.
I oppose telling Israel that it must not act in its survival interests. I don’t think there’s any reason to suspect that Iran will come to heel on this matter, and I think the Israelis are right to believe this is a threat the existence of which they dare not suffer. In truth, this is why many on the left wish Israel would simply go away. Many of them have begun to consider it in veiled terms much like the “Jewish problem” described by former tyrannical regimes. In other words, there are those in this administration, and in the general leftist movement of activists who think the world would be so much the better if Israel ceased to exist, and some are quite willing to let the Islamists in the region have their way with the besieged Jewish nation. At this point, I think Netanyahu is facing a serious crisis because the pressure from the White House continues to be what it was more than twenty years ago: “Don’t act. Don’t retaliate. Don’t do anything. We’ll handle this.” The problem is that in three years of Obama’s administration as this crisis has been developing, we haven’t handled it, and the Israelis may well be forced into action. I don’t blame them.