Should diplomacy fail, the Israeli leader most likely to strike Iran's nuclear facilities would be Netanyahu. Assuming he does—and does so successfully—he would prevent Obama from becoming the president who allowed a nuclear Iran.
While Netanyahu is the leader most likely to use military force against Iran, he is also the one best positioned to make meaningful gains in the direction of peace with the Palestinians. It would not be because of the oft-stated theory that it takes someone from the right to make peace, but rather because Netanyahu is the only figure offering new ideas.
"Netanyahu does believe in the peace process," says Ron Dermer, a senior adviser to the Netanyahu campaign. "What he has said is that the top-down approach has not worked, and he wants to try building Palestinian society from the bottom-up." This would entail finally addressing the indoctrination of Palestinian society in the media and in the textbooks, as well as helping the Palestinians create a better daily life through a stronger economy. And Netanyahu wants a peace process that engages the region by actively involving Jordan and Egypt.
In the decade and a half since the Oslo Accords, it would be hard to argue that the existing paradigm of land-for-peace has worked. If anything, there has been regression away from peace, and the Palestinians have suffered greatly over that time.
What most seem to remember about Netanyahu's first stint as prime minister is his political missteps and domestic political scandals. A dispassionate look at the record, though, shows Israel was hit with just three successful suicide bombing attacks in his three years as prime minister—versus four attacks in the three months before his 1996 election.
Just as important, Netanyahu achieved this security while opening Israeli society to economic cooperation with Palestinians. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were working in Israel or doing business with Israelis, and the Palestinian economy was prospering. Proving wrong the conventional wisdom, Israeli security and the Palestinian economy were simultaneously strong.
Freshly sworn in as president, Obama has made a number of rookie mistakes. He should not add to that list by criticizing the Israeli people for their democratic preferences.
Obama might even come to realize it is the best outcome for which he could have hoped.
Joel Mowbray, who got his start with Townhall.com, is an award-winning investigative journalist, nationally-syndicated columnist and author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security.
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