Based on hints, feints, public pronouncements, and off the record commentary, the administration’s stance toward Iran is coming into focus. Without any question, military action against Iran is off the agenda. The Obama administration will do nothing to prevent the further enrichment of uranium by Iran’s mullahs, notwithstanding who is elected in that nation’s upcoming vote.
The negotiations with Iran are based on the premise that Iran can produce as much enriched uranium as it wants as long as a nuclear bomb isn’t manufactured. In other words, Obama seeks a “Japanese solution,” the conditions for a bomb without actually making one.
For some, this is a distinction without a difference since the bomb can be made in days if deployment is in the cards. If Obama can get the Iranians to agree to this arrangement with adequate blandishments provided by our side, including the lifting of sanctions, he will announce with great fanfare that “peace” between Iran and the West has been achieved. For keen observers of the region, it will be regarded as a “Munich peace.” For others, it will be seen as a significant diplomatic breakthrough.
In order to mollify Israeli leaders that this deal isn’t threatening to that nation’s survival, Obama will argue that the United States stands committed to employ its nuclear umbrella to protect Israel against nuclear attack. Although this offer will be made with apparent sincerity, it is hard to believe that Obama would be willing to risk the safety of New York in order to protect Tel Aviv. Moreover, it is also hard to believe any serious official in Israel will accept this proposal, albeit other options may not be available.
The Obama administration has made it clear that it will punish Israel if it decides to attack Iran unilaterally. Having failed to contain Iran, the United States is concentrating on restraining Israel. Administration contingency plans include a formal condemnation of Israel, support for a United Nations Security Council resolution that could include sanctions against Israel and suspending military aid to the Jewish state.
Herbert London is president of Hudson Institute and professor emeritus of New York University. He is the author of Decade of Denial (Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books, 2001).
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