Despite President Obama’s election-inspired rhetoric about the US-Israeli alliance, which filled the president’s speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, there’s zero chance that Obama will endorse either an Israeli attack on Iran or an American one, either in 2012 or later.
As the New York Times reports on Obama’s speech to AIPAC:
The president also made clear that he views diplomacy, and the policy of sanctions set in motion by the United States and Europe, as the West’s best hope for getting Iran to stop short of pursuing a nuclear weapon. “Already, there is too much loose talk of war,” Mr. Obama said on Sunday. “For the sake of Israel’s security, America’s security, and the peace and security of the world, now is not the time for bluster.”
That, of course, won’t dampen AIPAC’s frenzied rhetoric about Iran, which is mostly aimed at changing the topic in US-Israel relations from Palestine to Iran. In that, AIPAC and its ally, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu—known as “Nutty-Yahoo” to, well, me—have largely succeeded.
Worrywarts who warn that the United States is on the verge of war with Iran don’t mean that the two countries might yet blunder into conflict, which is an entirely possible outcome, perhaps a war sparked by a clash at sea in the Persian Gulf, or some other event. They mean that Obama, like Bush in Iraq in 2002–03, harbors some overt or covert desire to attack Iran. He doesn’t. And close observers of the Iran-US tangle know that.
So war-worriers, relax. Still, it’s, important for progressives to insist that the Obama administration climb down from its needlessly provocative and useless economic sanctions against Iran and to launch a serious attempt to persuade Iran to reengage in dialogue with the P5+1.
Meanwhile, Colin Kahl—who served as a top Pentagon official in the Obama administration with responsibility for the Middle East—has penned a very important piece that knocks the props out from under one of AIPAC’s (and Israel’s) principal arguments, namely, that since bombing Iraq’s nuclear reaction in 1981 worked so nicely, it can work in Iran, too. Kahl’s succinct piece destroys that argument once and for all.
Kahl, of course, is no dove. In the 2008 campaign, he served as de facto representative of the hawkish wing of Obama’s Middle East foreign policy team, in contrast to the more dovish wing led by Brian Katulis of the Center for American Progress. (At that time, Kahl was advocating a more hawkish position vis-à-vis Iraq, while Katulis supported a rapid withdrawal of US forces. After the election, Kahl got the Defense Department job, while Katulis stayed put at CAP.)
In his piece, published in the Washington Post, Kahl writes: