From the Ivory Tower

Crossing the Line —

Israel is getting hot and bothered for a war, which was made apparent during Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee on Monday where Netanyahu was quoted as saying, “None of us can afford to wait much longer.”

The Obama administration is currently putting diplomatic pressure on Iran through sanctions and on Tuesday pledged to ensure Israel’s military superiority in the region.

But for the thousands of members of the AIPA, the President’s fundamental attitude — that seems to say “When the chips are down, the U.S. will have Israel’s back” — is just not enough.

Eli Lake, a contributing writer of Newsweek magazine, suggests that Obama gave an ambiguous message when he warned against any “loose talk of war.” This suggestion to hold back from pounding the war drum could be interpreted as a remark for either Iran or Israel — or both.

The president’s current stance in regard to Iran’s development of nuclear weapons is what Obama called “a strategy of principled diplomacy.” A month ago, President Obama issued an executive order that froze all property of the central bank of Iran and the Iranian government in the United States.

The U.S. says the message is clear: Iran will face ever-increasing economic and diplomatic pressure until it addresses the international community’s concerns regarding Iran’s nuclear program.

When you put the two concepts together, using strategic diplomacy to stifle a rogue nuclear war program does seem a little … well … lame.

Right now, it’s a matter of whom the U.S. can afford to piss off more. The longtime ally? Or the dictatorship that is hungry for nuclear weaponry?

Obama’s reluctance to enter into a serious conversation about going to war with Iran is seen by some as weakness, when in fact, it keeps the question open-ended.

After a decade of conflict in the Middle East, the war in Afghanistan is ongoing. U.S. citizens are finicky, as the polls show, and with heavy burdens of debt to China, largely spurred by military spending — the sheer possibility of Iran’s nuclear weapons development is not enough to send the country hurtling back into conflict, especially at the request of another country, even a close ally.

By maintaining a strategic approach, Obama is hoping to present Iran with a peaceful resolution to the conflict that would bring the nation to the negotiating table.

The underlying tension lies in where the U.S. and Israel draw the line. For Israel, the line has already been crossed as Iran is beginning to harness the capability to produce a nuclear weapon.

“It is not necessary for Iran to actually have the bomb to demonstrate beyond doubt that they have crossed the nuclear threshold,” says AIPAC’s executive director Howard Kohr.

For the United States and President Obama, the line is crossed upon obtaining a nuclear weapon.

These two varying opinions  — between staunch allies — on what is perceived as a threat, could be a defining moment in regard to whether peace in the Middle East is something that can be viewed as a possibility.


Categories: Commentary