Israel's leaders are reportedly concerning themselves with one question today. Are there any circumstances in which US President Barack Obama will order the US military to strike Iran's nuclear installations before Iran develops a nuclear arsenal?
From Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu down the line, Israel's leaders reportedly raise this question with just about everyone they come into contact with. If this is true, then the time has come to end our leaders' suspense.
The answer is no.
To all intents and purposes, there are no circumstances in which Obama would order an attack on Iran's nuclear installations to prevent Iran from developing and fielding nuclear weapons. Exceptions to this statement fall into two categories. Either they are so implausible that they are operationally irrelevant, or they are so contingent on other factors that they would doom any US attack to failure.
Evidence for this conclusion is found in every aspect of Obama's foreign policy. But to prove it, it is sufficient to point out point three aspects of his policies.
First of all, Obama's refuses to recognize that an Iranian nuclear arsenal constitutes a clear and present danger to US national security. Obama's discussions of the perils of a nuclear Iran are limited to his acknowledgement that such an arsenal will provoke a regional nuclear arms race. This is certainly true. But then that arms race has already begun. Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, the UAE, and Kuwait have all announced their intentions to build nuclear reactors. In some cases they have signed deals with foreign countries to build such facilities.
And yet, while a nuclear arms race in the Middle East is bad, it is far from the worst aspect of Iran's nuclear program for America. America has two paramount strategic interests in the Middle East. First, the US requires the smooth flow of inexpensive petroleum products from the Persian Gulf to global oil markets. Second, the US requires the capacity to project its force in the region to defend its own territory from global jihadists.
Both of these interests are imperiled by the Iranian nuclear program. If the US is not willing to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, it will lose all credibility as a strategic ally to the Sunni Arab states in the area. For instance, from a Saudi perspective, a US that is unwilling to prevent the ayatollahs from fielding nuclear weapons is of no more use to the kingdom than Britain or China or France. It is just another oil consuming country. The same goes for the rest of the states in the Gulf and in the region.
Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post, where this article first appeared.
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