To the United States, Iranian nukes and an Israeli attack on them are equally unacceptable because they both disturb regional stability. The opponents of an attack insist on calling it a “War”, not that a war is even structurally possible unless Iran decides to march an army through Iraq and Syria to get to Israel. They spread hysterical bulletins warning that an Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear program could spark “another” recession.
Their message is that the cost of attacking Iran is less than the cost of allowing it to go nuclear. That may be true for the United States, which did not suffer too much from accepting that the Bolsheviks had taken over Russia, that Mao had taken over China and other once unacceptable phenomena that forced it the up its defense spending, but did not do any lasting damage. A nuclear weapon in the hands of people who believe that the world needs to be cleansed by fire for the arrival of the Mahdi and have dozens of terrorist front groups at their disposal may be a different story. Or it may not.
Washington D.C. did not get overrun by Communist forces. Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Tibet and a few hundred million other people who did not have oceans to protect them from the reasonable commissars in Moscow and Beijing, did. And that is why Israel’s interests fundamentally diverge from those of the United States. Israel is not playing a grand game from across the ocean; it is trying to survive in a region that is as hostile to it, as Asia and Eastern Europe became to non-Communist countries.
That is why, no matter what speeches politicians deliver, the actual interests of the United States and Israel are only loosely aligned. The United States is trying to protect the tattered fabric of regional stability from Iran and Israel. Israel is trying to protect itself from Iran. The United States needs Israel to promote regional stability by going back to the table and negotiating with the terrorist front groups backed by Saudi Arabia and the Gulfies. Israel needs to protect itself while Obama is too busy telling senior citizens that Paul Ryan will cook them in a frying pan to pay attention to what it’s doing.
Prime Minister Netanyahu has been cobbling together a national unity government, which in Israeli terms means that he is either running for sainthood or trying to get as much of the political system behind him in a critical time. It could all be a monumental bluff, a way to panic Obama into taking action out of fear that Israel will act instead. But that would make Netanyahu a very stupid man, and while he is not all that Americans think he is, neither is he likely to be playing such a silly game.
Everyone in the region understands the nature of the countdown. Most of the Sunni Gulfies also privately welcome Israel doing something about Iran’s nuclear weapons, even as they redouble their efforts against the Jewish State to avoid allowing their Shiite enemies to benefit ideologically from a confrontation with the Zionist Entity. The rhetoric out of Iran now echoes the rhetoric out of Egypt in the 1960’s. That buildup eventually ended in a preemptive Israeli strike that destroyed Egypt’s air force.
But in Washington D.C., the countdown is not a real thing. The received wisdom among the press and the political and diplomatic establishments is that Netanyahu is an obstinate paranoid man who is playing games with them. They don’t believe that Israel will do anything about Iran, because they wouldn’t do anything about Iran and they assume that Netanyahu is just like them, only more deceptive because he pretends that he will do something about Iran.
The problem is that Israel really isn’t playing a game. Its political establishment is as bad as that of any Western country. Its politicians are no better than their American or French counterparts, but its survival actually is on the line. Iran isn’t playing a game. That’s why Israel can’t afford to play a game either.
It has become fashionable among Western elites to view aggression as either a posture or madness. They have forgotten that sometimes violence isn’t a move on an international chessboard or a prelude to a set of political steps. Sometimes it’s as simple as one side wanting to kill the other and the other side not wanting to be killed.