Moral Outrage
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Israeli and American Differences on Attacking Iran

What divides President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu on attacking Iran is a question of timing.

Obama’s “red line” is the point at which Iran “possesses” a nuclear weapon, which would not arrive for a couple of years even if Iran actually intends to make one. (American and Israeli intelligence services concur that it is not working on one now.)

Netanyahu’s “red line” comes much sooner: whenever Iran has enough enriched uranium to build a bomb, whether it does so or not.

What worries Obam: First, the American public simply isn’t up for a third “war of choice” in 10 years in the Middle East. Secondly, this is presidential election year in the United States. If Israel attacks Iran, the oil price will soar and kill the economic recovery Obama is depending on for re-election. However, if the U.S. fails to back Israel, American Jews will turn against him and kill his re-election chances anyway. Thirdly, the attack would not destroy Iran’s uranium enrichment plants. The Iranians have buried them deep underground.

An Iran that had been attacked by Israel and the United States would be determined to get nuclear weapons as fast as possible. As Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said recently, Israeli attacks on Iran “would be destabilizing and would not achieve their long-term objectives.”

What’s actually at stake here is not the survival of Israel, just the preservation of the huge strategic advantage Israel enjoys as the sole nuclear weapons state in the Middle East.

Ehud Barak, Israel’s defense minister, let the cat out of the bag in a recent interview. “From our point of view, a nuclear state offers an entirely different kind of protection to its proxies. Imagine if we enter another military confrontation with Hezbollah, (and a) nuclear Iran announces that an attack on Hezbollah is tantamount to an attack on Iran. We would not necessarily give up on it, but it would definitely restrict our range of operations.”

[Excerpts from article by Gwynne Dyer]

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