Tomorrow I’ll write about the flaws in President Obama’s Iran policy, and there are many, but today let’s focus on Obama’s skillful put-down of Bibi Netanyahu’s warmongering on Iran. Using diplomatic language, in his AIPAC speech and, apparently, in his private meeting with the Israeli prime minister, Obama’s message top Israel roughly translates into: “Sit down and shut up!”
That, however, has predictably enraged the neoconservatives and other hawks.
Leading the pack, in response to Obama’s measured tone on Iran, was the Wall Street Journal, who accused the president of “vacillation and mixed signals” for refusing to endorse Netanyahu’s call for war.
In National Review, Robert Joseph writes in “Resigning to Iran”:
Despite many high-profile statements about not allowing Iran to have nuclear weapons, the administration appears to have adopted the message put out by Iran’s leaders, that the cost of a military strike would be prohibitively high. While the administration will seek to impose additional sanctions, it now seems willing to live with the failure of its policy and rely on the belief that a nuclear-armed Iran can be deterred and contained. It is this core belief that defines the difference between U.S. and Israeli perspectives and policies. For Israel, a nuclear-armed Iran is an existential threat; Israel cannot exist in such a world. Our president seems already resigned to it.
Emanuele Ottolenghi, a writer for the necon Foundation for the Defense of Democracy, wrote an op-ed in the New York Times calling for an outright naval blockade of Iran, which is an act of war:
If Western nations wish to avoid a military confrontation in the Persian Gulf and prevent a nuclear Iran, they must adopt crippling sanctions that will bring Iran’s economy to the brink of collapse. That means a complete United Nations-imposed oil embargo enforced by a naval blockade, as well as total diplomatic isolation.
And The Weekly Standard chimes in with an endorsement of Netanyahu’s demand that the United States act militarily to bomb Iran over its “capability” to make a bomb, not for actually trying to make a bomb:
If the administration’s intent is to prevent a nuclear Iran, it should draw a red line that is clear, verifiable and preventable before it is too late. The red line should be nuclear weapons capability, not the imperceptible turning of the screwdriver to assemble a weapon.
Let’s not forget Senator John McCain, who apparently never met a country he didn’t want to bomb. Yesterday he called for bombing Syria, Iran’s erstwhile ally, That’s because many neoconservatives have realized that bombing Iran isn’t going to happen and that road to Tehran therefore goes through Damascus. Said the obviously tortured senator:
“The President must state unequivocally that under no circumstances will Assad be allowed to finish what he has started, that there is no future in which Assad and his lieutenants will remain in control of Syria, and that the United States is prepared to use the full weight of our airpower to make it so.”
“But time is running out. Assad’s forces are on the march. Providing military assistance to the Free Syrian Army and other opposition groups is necessary, but at this late hour, that alone will not be sufficient to stop the slaughter and save innocent lives. The only realistic way to do so is with foreign airpower.”
Happily enough, so far at least, there is zero chance that Obama will adopt the neocons’ policy on Iran, and very little chance (yet) that he’ll escalate against Syria.