Friday, September 18, 2009

Obama Fiddles While Israel Burns

In an opinion column published September 15 in the Wall Street Journal, entitled "Obama is Pushing Israel to War," Bret Stephens writes that as Iran moves increasingly closer to the capacity to assemble nuclear warheads within months, and defies the West, the Obama Administration dithers and effectively compels Israel to risk a military strike at Iran's nuclear facilities. It is certainly in the national interests of both the U.S. and Israel, to say nothing of the rest of the world, to stop Iran's march toward nuclear weapons. It may well not be in the interest of either nation for Israel to attack Iran, but, Stephens writes, the feckless behavior of the Obama Administration is leaving it with little choice.

At the G-8 Summit in Italy in July, Iran was given a September deadline to re-start negotiations over its nuclear programs. The answer Iran finally gave last week was, in effect, "Go pound sand." Its response was a 5-page document that offered talks with on a plethora of topics, but did not even mention nuclear weapons. The bold U.S. response to this defiant challenge was ... to agree to start talks with Iran on October 1. Stephens writes:

All this only helps persuade Israel's skittish leadership that when President Obama calls a nuclear-armed Iran "unacceptable," he means it approximately in the same way a parent does when fecklessly reprimanding his misbehaving teenager. That impression is strengthened by Mr. Obama's decision to drop Iran from the agenda when he chairs a meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Sept. 24; by Defense Secretary Robert Gates publicly opposing military strikes on Iran's nuclear facilities; and by Russia's announcement that it will not support any further sanctions on Iran.

Israel has naturally concluded that neither the U.S., nor the international community, plans to lift a finger to stop Iran from acquiring weapons that will threaten the very existence of the tiny Jewish State, weapons that Iran's leaders have already broadly hinted they will employ. That leaves only the risky military option, which may well not succeed and will only further isolate Israel diplomatically.


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