Israel increases pressure on U.S. to start a war against Iran

The Wall Street Journal reports: Complaints from Israel about the U.S.’s public engagement with Iran have pushed the White House to consider more forcefully outlining potential military actions, and the “red lines” Iran must not cross, as soon as this weekend, according to people familiar with the discussions.

President Barack Obama could use a speech on Sunday before a powerful pro-Israel lobby to more clearly define U.S. policy on military action against Iran in advance of his meeting on Monday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, these people said.

Israeli officials have been fuming over what they perceive as deliberate attempts by the Obama administration to undermine the deterrent effect of the Jewish state’s threat to use force against Tehran by publicly questioning the utility and timing of such strikes.

The Israeli leader has told U.S. officials that he wants Mr. Obama to outline specifically what Washington views as the “red lines” that Iran cannot cross, something the administration is considering as it drafts the president’s speech at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and sets the agenda for his meeting with Mr. Netanyahu.

Some administration officials said that if Mr. Obama decides to more clearly define his red lines, he is likely to do it in private with Mr. Netanyahu, rather than state it in his AIPAC speech.

Mr. Netanyahu and other top Israeli officials also are pressing for Mr. Obama to publicly clarify his insistence that “all options are on the table” in addressing the Iranian nuclear threat.

Mr. Netanyahu recently conveyed his displeasure with the administration in separate meetings in Jerusalem with National Security Adviser Tom Donilon and a group of U.S. senators, said people involved in the meetings.

He complained that comments by senior U.S. officials have cast Israel as the problem, not Iran, and only encouraged Tehran to press ahead with its nuclear program by casting doubt over the West’s willingness to use force.

Israeli officials were particularly alarmed when Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, described Iran as a “rational actor” in a CNN interview after a recent visit to Israel.

That General Dempsey calls Iran a rational actor certainly runs counter to the “mad mullahs” narrative that many warmongers favor — a narrative upon which many of the arguments in favor of war utterly depend.

If Israeli officials are alarmed about Iran being described in this way by America’s top military official this would either be because they believe Demspsey’s wrong, or, because they think that although his characterization is accurate it is tactically counterproductive to openly express this fact. Either way, this unwillingness to publicly acknowledge that Iran behaves rationally, shines light on Israel’s motives for pushing for Obama to set “red lines” that Iran must not be allowed to cross.

If Iran is a rational actor then such red lines could serve as a deterrent in persuading the Islamic republic not to move closer to the development of nuclear weapons. But if, as the Israelis apparently insist, Iran is not a rational actor then the red lines being sought are designed to have more effect on the Obama administration than Iran. In other words, Israel is intent on forcing the United States into a corner so that it becomes politically impossible for this or any other U.S. president to refuse to attack Iran.

Will Obama bow to such pressure? To judge by his performance so far, this is a president who has yet to face any pressure that he is willing to resist. And this is the experience that Netanyahu is relying on: push Obama hard enough and he will almost always yield.

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8 thoughts on “Israel increases pressure on U.S. to start a war against Iran

  1. Norman

    It’s time to tell the Israeli Russian Mafia to go to hell. Either the U.S.A. protects the people within the confines of its borders, or the people will protect themselves, at the expense of those who would sacrifice them.

  2. Patrick Cummins

    These statements about Iran being a rational actor go back to the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate on Iran. It stated that “Tehran’s decisions are guided by a cost-benefit approach rather than a rush to a weapon irrespective of the political, economic, and military costs.”

  3. hquain

    Military analysis suggests that a successful strike would be extremely difficult, requiring huge forces over an extended period of time, and likely resulting in disastrous releases of radiation along with a host of other political and military consequences. Israeli use of nuclear weapons would end their presence on the international stage in a hail of universal opprobrium.

    Team Obama must appear security-tough in the run-up to the election. Warlike posturing is the best way to achieve this effect; actual war is too messy and uncertain, not to mention expensive. It seems likely that the US will continue its effort to destroy Iran economically, spicing the mix with martial threats, which play well in public. These include make publicly nice with the Israelis, who may themselves be exaggerating their mad-dog style to encourage the US to be steadfast in its fundamentally political-economic mode of aggression.

    So: grounds for ‘optimism’.

  4. Osama

    I really find this pseudo-intellectual discussion in the US/Western press about Iran’s intentions is just a clear attempt to obfuscate and confuse. It always serves those interested in confrontation to make the other side seem “unreasonable” or “crazy”.

    Now we’re expected to believe that the US as a supposedly “rational actor” is going to launch a war against Iran or at least military strikes because Israel will force its hand.

    Let’s get real for a minute – no one should believe that any of this (Nukes or Syria or Bahrain or Abu Musa Island or Gulf of Hormuz blockades or Iranians (MEK) used to generate press about assassination’s of foreign diplomats in various countries (US or more recently Georgia/India/Thailand) ….. as being anything less than US the continuing attempts to extend its precarious and failing control over the largest reserve oil. If I believe the Western press I shouldn’t be surprised to find a member of the IRGC under my bed hatching some nefarious plot (or cunning plan)…

    These attempts are becoming increasingly bare-faced and the latest events surrounding Syria have just shown this to be the case… where Russia and China have drawn a line and have said they will no longer look the other way while the US, its Allies and Puppets try to assert their agendas and regional interests at the expense of other major powers. have a look at the new “game” in Africa where China and the US are scrambling to secure their interests – why would anyone think this is any different.

    The Chinese got it right when they said that after Iraq the US has no right to speak about the interests of the Arabs… or anybody else for that matter…

  5. Tom Hall

    The Israelis claim that the Iranian regime is not a rational actor. Having come to this conclusion, they seem intent on instituting a war with an enemy whose reactions cannot be logically anticipated and thus guarded against. How “rational” is that?

  6. DE Teodoru

    Wall Street Journal is as credible as all Murdock crapsheets. Obama has made clear: NO WAR, we’ve lost enough!

    Israel is passing gas and making noise, that’s all!!!

  7. BillVZ

    It always serves those interested in confrontation to make the other side seem “unreasonable” or “crazy”.
    Osama, your reply is well taken and appreciated by this reader. thanks!

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