To the delight of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, an international coalition has coalesced around Iran's nuclear weapons program.
In his remarks Tuesday in Los Angeles before the delegates to the United Jewish Communities' General Assembly, Olmert explained his enthusiasm. First he stated, "America's leadership in preventing Iran's nuclearization is indisputable and unequaled. I just met my good friend, a true friend of Israel, President George W. Bush in Washington... His determination to prevent this most serious of developments is unquestionable. But America must have the support of the international community if we are to successfully defuse this mortal threat."
So from Olmert's perspective, it is America's responsibility - not Israel's - to prevent Iran from acquiring the means to destroy Israel. At the same time, he accepts that the US will take no action against Iran without first receiving permission from the French, Russians, Chinese and Arabs.
Olmert then explained that the Arabs have to agree to let the US protect Israel. As he put it, "A coalition of moderate Arab countries can and must unite their common interest in preventing Iran from undermining stability in the Middle East. This coalition must struggle against the dangers of radical Islam that manipulate the very source of Islam itself."
For her part, Livni told the crowd in California that there is little doubt that the nations of the world will shortly unite to prevent Iran from achieving nuclear capabilities. As she put it, "If the promise of 'Never Again' is more important than the price of oil, then the time for international indifference and hesitation in the face of the Iranian threat has long passed."
Livni then explained that she is eager to give Judea and Samaria to the Palestinians and is working to "brand" Israel as a place where it is fun to live. She concluded by recommending that American Jews invite Israeli Nobel laureates to visit their communities.
In sum, our foreign minister is certain that the international community will act against Iran because it means it when it says it thinks that the Holocaust was a bad thing more than it means it when it says, "Fill it up with unleaded."
Moreover, as far as Livni is concerned, the world will protect Israel because the Olmert government is so eager to render Jerusalem and Tel Aviv defenseless by surrendering Judea and Samaria to Palestinian jihadists.
Aside from that, Livni trusts that the world will protect the Jews because thanks to her we have UN forces protecting Hizbullah on our northern border and we're rebranding ourselves to let the international community know that Jews are both good at science and really fun to drink with.
To their credit, Olmert and Livni are correct to say that today an international coalition made up of the US, the EU and some of the Arabs is forming around Iran. But what binds the members together is their collective opposition to taking any effective action to prevent Teheran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
Standing next to Olmert in the White House Monday, Bush limited his remarks on Iran to expressing his hope that the international community would agree to economically isolate Iran. International support is necessary because Iran's chief targets - the US and Israel - don't have the legitimacy to act. As he put it, "My attitude is let's work in concert to convince the government [of Iran] that it's not just the Israeli voices speaking, or the United States' voices speaking, but there's a lot of other voices saying the exact same thing."
There is no doubt that isolating Iran internationally would be a welcome development.
But there can also be no doubt that isolating Iran will not cause it to end its nuclear weapons program. This is particularly true if that isolation involves approving the European draft resolution for mild sanctions against Iran in the UN Security Council. In the best case scenario, the most sanctions can do is make it more difficult to Iran to reconstitute its nuclear program in the aftermath of an Israeli military attack on its nuclear installations.
EACH OF the parties in the "Do-nothing-against-Iran" coalition has its own reasons for not lifting a finger.
Bush's interpretation of the Democrats' victory in last week's Congressional elections convinced him not to act against Iran. Starting with his press conference last Wednesday where he announced Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's replacement by Robert Gates, Bush has made absolutely clear that as far as he's concerned, he lacks the domestic political strength to carry out a successful operation.
In one of his recent daily calls for Israel's destruction, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad offered Europe a Faustian bargain. He promised to leave Europe alone if the Europeans abandon Israel. On Monday, British Prime Minister Tony Blair accepted his offer. In a speech at the London Lord Mayor's annual banquet, Blair explained that success in Iraq and in Iran is contingent on Israel making concessions to Palestinian and Lebanese terrorists and to the US and Europe making concessions to Syria and Iran.
The fact that Blair made this speech four days after the director general of the MI5, Eliza Manningham-Buller, said that today 30 terror plots are being planned in Britain; that future threats could involve chemicals and nuclear devices; that young British Muslims are being groomed to become suicide bombers; and that her agents are tracking some 1,600 suspects, tells us just about everything we need to know about Europe's interests. The fact that he made a similar statement to the Iraq Study Group, which, led by former secretary of state James Baker III is planning on recommending that the US sell out Israel and appease the Iranians and Syrians, tells us everything we need to know about how Europe feels about the US hope to isolate - not attack - Iran.
There is little doubt that the Arab states would prefer a non-nuclear Iran. But the Arabs have no intention of preventing Iran from acquiring such weapons. To the contrary, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia now want to build their own nuclear reactors. Iran's program serves as a justification for Arab A-bombs.c
The implication of the coalescence of this new coalition is inescapable. Despite Olmert and Livni's breathless protestations to the contrary, no one will take action to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. No one will block the prospect of Israel's annihilation.
IT IS worthwhile to consider why this is the case - if only to bring reality to the attention those directly entrusted with ensuring Israel's survival.
The Bush administration is today in a state of strategic disarray. According to historian John Lewis Gaddis in his book Surprise, Security and the American Experience, one of the strategic assumptions that underlay Bush's decision to order the invasion of Iraq was the predicted psychological effect the campaign would have on regimes like Iran. In his words, "The purpose was as much psychological as military: to eliminate individuals, gangs and regimes who commit or support terrorism, but also to intimidate those who might be thinking about doing so."
Unfortunately, the psychological effect was dependent on a clear US military victory. After the initial push to Baghdad and the overthrow of Saddam's regime, America's ability to defeat the insurgency was increasingly dependent on political will. That will in turn was heavily influenced by the level of international support America's actions enjoyed. The Europeans refused to back the campaign and their antagonism prevented the US from undertaking the kind of aggressive counter-insurgency measures - particularly operations inside Syria and Iran, which act as bases for the insurgency - that were necessary to win the conflict decisively.
As time passed, the lack of European support caused an erosion of domestic US support for the Iraq campaign. It was the cumulative effect of that erosion that brought about the Republican defeat last week.
The EU opposes US operations in Iraq, and indeed its member states have become hotbeds of anti-American prejudice for various reasons - one of which is counter-intuitive.
The Europeans perceive themselves as powerless dilettantes. As such, they assume that their hostility will make little impact on the US and that America will eventually win the war against the global jihad regardless of what they think. This being the case, from their perspective, nothing is to be lost in the long run, and much is to be gained in the short run, from abusing the benevolent US and appeasing the violent jihadists. France in particular would like for the US to emerge from the war victorious but weakened, much as Britain emerged from World War II.
While the Arabs oppose Iranian regional and pan-Islamic hegemony, they believe they will deter Teheran from attacking them by acquiring nuclear capabilities. Moreover, an Iranian nuclear strike against Israel would serve several Arab interests. First, as long as Israel exists, Iran will concentrate on Israel and leave the Arabs alone.
Second, if Iran attacks Israel with nuclear weapons, either Israel or the US will likely launch a devastating counter-strike that will significantly weaken the Teheran regime. Although awash in glory for its destruction of Israel, Iran would be in no position to assert control over the now nuclear-armed Arabs whose "Jewish problem" it had solved.
But no matter, our leaders tell us. We should just think happy thoughts as they do. In Olmert and Livni's world, Israel won the war in Lebanon this summer; UNIFIL forces are good for the Jews; and Hizbullah - which is now working to overthrow the Lebanese government - has no interest in renewing its war against Israel.
The government sees no reason to prevent 1,500 PLO terrorists from Jordan from marching into Gaza with their guns and their families. Olmert and Livni welcome the prospect of releasing thousands of terrorists from prison to "strengthen" PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, and they are eager to hand Judea and Samaria over to Abbas, not because doing so would help Abbas, but because it would good for Israel.
As Livni put it this week, we want to hand over land because otherwise the so-called peace process will stagnate, and "Stagnation is not in our interest and it is not our policy."
Our jovial government justifies its decision to do nothing to prevent Ahmadinejad from acquiring the means to keep his promise to destroy the Jewish state by incessantly claiming that someone else is willing and able to pay the price to defend us.
The people of Israel must not be seduced by the blindness and empty promises of our leaders. All efforts must be made to sideline these incompetent, self-serving bumblers and replace them with responsible leaders as quickly as possible.