Many will applaud this. I don’t. In my opinion, it would be better to set the bar for Israel’s freedom of action if it ever determined that there was a threat of nuclear attack from Iran. After all, such a framework would make war or a nuclear conflict less likely, whereas the principle of attacking at the point where Iran might have weapons makes war – and a possible nuclear conflict later on – far more likely.
Yet Obama has explicitly rejected containment, which in this context makes it clear that there can be no scenario in which Iran has nuclear weapons but their use is deterred by early-warning stations, the threat of American or Israeli attack, and defensive measures.
In addition, Obama escaped past apparent commitments of invoking the national interest as making it preferable for the United States not to do something. But now he has defined destroying Iran’s nuclear capability as a basic U.S. interest. He has left himself no way out.
By the way, has Obama considered Russia’s warning that it will defend Iran in formulating his new policy? With Vladimir Putin back in power, will this contribute to a U.S.-Russia confrontation?
And did Obama consult any U.S. allies or Congress on this policy? What happened to his much-advertised multilateralism? And this is from the man who savaged his predecessor over Iraq, when Bush did have a UN and a congressional resolution basically authorizing the use of force?
Some believe that Obama will back off this commitment. But what’s he going to do if Israel attacks in a year or two? Say that he wanted Israel to wait another week or month to make sure the United States accepted the intelligence that Iran now had nuclear weapons?
And consider this: The Iranian government would now be perfectly justified in regarding any Israeli attack as an attack also by the United States. Obama has thrown away any possibility of distancing the United States from an Israeli operation or any plausible deniability of responsibility. The Tehran government would be far more likely to attack American institutions, personnel, and shipping after an Israeli attack.
We are now on the road to war. That’s what is important, not whether Obama gained votes or whether he is sincere or at precisely what second U.S. policymakers decide Iran has met the conditions for getting bombed.
This is huge and it is an unprecedented U.S. position that can be summarized as follows: Iran gets nukes. Boom!
About the Author: Professor Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. See the GLORIA/MERIA site at www.gloria-center.org.
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