In May 1967, Egypt blockaded the Straits of Tiran, deployed its military toward Israel and formed a unified command with Syria and Jordan, proclaiming its intent to annihilate Israel. Israel requested U.S. compliance with the 1957 understanding. But “U.S. intelligence did not expect imminent Arab attack” and President Lyndon Johnson preferred a multilateral U.N. — led action, which was not realistic.
Johnson “emphasized the necessity for Israel not to make itself responsible for the initiation of hostilities. Israel will not be alone unless it decides to go alone.” Secretary of State Dean Rusk stated that “if Israel strikes first, it would have to forget the U.S. … Defense Secretary [Robert] McNamara said that the Israelis would stand alone if they initiated an attack.” The U.S. non-compliance further radicalized Egypt, forcing Israeli pre-emption — the 1967 Six Day War. [my emphasis]
In 1970, the U.S. made a commitment to oppose the deployment of Egyptian missiles toward Sinai. The missiles were deployed, the U.S. reneged and the 1973 war erupted, causing 2,800 Israeli fatalities.
In 1991, Israel agreed to forgo retaliation to Iraqi missile launching. The U.S. promised to dedicate 30 percent of its air force bombing to missile launchers. However, only 3% was dedicated and no missile launchers were hit [and 42 Iraqi Scud missiles were fired into Israel — ed.].
Today the Obama Administration is backing away from its promise to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons. Any hope of stopping Iran diplomatically would depend on a credible military threat; but the administration has not made such a threat itself — it has not gone farther than saying that “all options are on the table” — and it has worked to make an Israeli action more difficult and less effective, even to the extent of denying Israel the means to protect its population.
I am not going to speculate on its motives today, except to say that I think there is more involved than a simple desire to avoid instability on the eve of an election.
It should be clear to the architects of this policy that they cannot prevent Israel from acting, as it did in 1967, to guarantee its own survival. I wonder if they do understand this.
I once wrote that it seemed that both the US administration and the Iranian regime shared a common objective, to prevent an Israeli attack on Iran. Today it seems that both are doing their best to bring one about.