By Louis René Beres |
Speaking to The Washington Post in advance of Prime Minister Netanyahu's visit to Washington this week, an unnamed senior Obama administration official said, "We're trying to make the decision to attack as hard as possible for Israel."
This encapsulates the president's dangerously misguided policy toward one of America's closest allies. Rather than reassuring Israel in a time of growing uncertainty, the Obama administration is attempting to make life difficult for Israel's government.
The United States and Israel share an interest in ensuring that Iran does not obtain a nuclear weapons capability. But Israeli leaders, given Israel's proximity to Iran, the extreme rhetoric of Iranian leaders who have threatened Israel, and Israel's more limited military capabilities when compared to those of the United States, view the challenge posed by Iran differently than the Obama administration, which believes that we have more time to pursue a negotiated solution.
As the Netanyahu government decides in the coming months whether military action against Iran is necessary, Washington should not attempt to dissuade Prime Minister Netanyahu from taking action.
If Israel decides to take military action against Iran, it will be because of a lack of trust in America's willingness to act. And why should the Israelis trust President Obama to follow through on his rhetoric? During his three years in office, he has time and time again pressured Israel while reaching out to Israel's enemies.
President Obama likes to tout the economic sanctions against Iran that his administration has helped implement and the military and intelligence assistance he has provided to Israel, but the reality is that Iran has been making steady progress toward a nuclear weapons capability despite these efforts.
The latest report of the International Atomic Energy Agency shows that Iran has the equivalent of four to five weapons-worth of fissile material if its uranium is further enriched. Despite the sanctions, Iran shows no signs of slowing its program.
Meanwhile, a series of Obama administration officials have publicly highlighted the supposed calamitous effects of a military strike rather than conveying seriousness to the mullahs in Tehran.
On the current trajectory, without U.S. or Israeli military action or regime change from within, Iran will likely obtain nuclear weapons. It will be emboldened, as will its terrorist proxies. A cascade of proliferation in one of the world's most unstable regions will likely follow. U.S. interests will be severely undermined.
It's time for President Obama to stop pressuring Israel and instead, pressure Tehran.
About Jamie M. Fly Former Director for Counterproliferation Strategy at the National Security Council
Raymond Tanter Founder of the Iran Policy Committee
Ilan Berman Vice President of the American Foreign Policy Council
James Dobbins Former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State
Daniel J. Gallington Senior Policy and Program Adviser at the George C. Marshall Institute