And that’s why without a credible military threat, sanctions are doomed to fail. That’s why, in the absence of clear “red lines,” the US’ strategy will fail.
Clearly, Israel recognizes this. Last Monday, PM Netanyahu upped his rhetoric: “Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don’t have a moral right to place a red light before Israel.”
Netanyahu’s affirmation was widely interpreted as a jab at Obama, whose Iran policy is deserving of criticism. Nevertheless, while Netanyahu’s frustration with the US president is merited, his strategy for dealing with Obama perhaps is becoming detrimental.
Previously, by “beating the drums of war” Netanyahu effectively forced the Iran issue to the forefront of the international community’s agenda. Largely out of fear of an Israeli pre-emptive strike—as opposed to the “unacceptable” prospect of a nuclear-armed Islamic Republic—the world was woken from its slumber to take measures against Iran.
These diplomatic and economic initiatives, however, were too little and came too late; Iran’s march towards the bomb has continued unabated. As a result, military action will soon constitute the sole remaining recourse to stop Iran’s nuclear program.
As the Mullahs pose a global threat, Israel correctly wants the international community, led by the US as leader of the free world and whose military capacity is greatest, to assume the responsibility. But herein lies Israel’s dilemma: While Netanyahu’s sabre-rattling sufficed to induce diplomatic warfare against Iran, it has not enabled him to garner support for an actual war. Netanyahu’s rising urgency reflects his inability to date to recruit a “coalition of the willing” to confront Iran militarily.
The stark reality, though, is that the Jewish state is, has always been, and will always be alone when its “back” is against the wall. That Obama fervently opposes even a unilateral Israeli strike—in the face of genocidal Iranian threats—is a testament to this.
Coupled with the fact that time constraints likely preclude the enactment of additional meaningful sanctions against Iran, and that Israel cannot possibly win the battle for public opinion, Netanyahu’s policy of publicly venting his displeasure, which entails revealing Israel’s positions, seemingly has exhausted its utility.
In this event, the implementation of an Iran “blackout” at the highest levels of Israel’s government is favorable. Thereafter, a decision can be made, in due course and behind closed doors, as to whether the country is in fact willing to go it alone against Iran if necessary, or whether Israel will entrust the US with using force to stop Iran’s nuclear program when it no longer can.
Appropriately, it will then be left to those not in the know to debate the wisdom of betting the lone Jewish state’s survival on “hope” affecting “change.”
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