Caroline Glick

Monday's US presidential debate on foreign policy came and went. And we are none the wiser for it.

Not surprisingly, at the height of the campaign season, neither US President Barack Obama nor his Republican challenger Gov. Mitt Romney was interested in revealing his plans for the next four years.

But from what was said, we can be fairly certain that a second Obama term will involve no departure from his foreign policy in his current term in office.

As far as Iran and its nuclear weapons program is concerned, that policy has involved a combination of occasional tough talk and a relentless attempt to appease the mullahs. While Obama denied The New York Timesreport from last weekend that he has agreed to carry out new bilateral negotiations with Iran after the US presidential elections, his administration has acknowledged that it would be happy to have such talks if they can be arranged.

As for Romney, his statements of support for tougher sanctions, including moving to indict Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for the crime of incitement of genocide were certainly welcome.

But they were also rather out of date, given the lateness of the hour.

If there was ever much to recommend it, the "sanction Iran into abandoning its nuclear weapons" policy is no longer a relevant option. The timetables are too short.

On the other hand, Romney's identification of Iran as the gravest national security threat facing the US made clear that he understands the severity of the threat posed by Iran's nuclear weapons program.

And consequently, if Romney defeats Obama on November 6, it is likely that on January 21, 2013, the US will adopt a different policy towards Iran.

The question for Israel now is whether any of this matters. If Romney is elected and adopts a new policy towards Iran, what if any operational significance will this policy shift have for Israel?

The short answer is very little.

To understand why this is the case we need to consider two issues: The time it would take for a new US policy to be implemented; and the time Iran requires to become a nuclear power.

In the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, jihadist attacks on the US, then-president George W. Bush faced no internal opposition to overthrowing the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. The US military and intelligence arms all supported the operation. Congress supported the operation. The American public supported the operation. The UN supported the mission.


Caroline Glick

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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