President Obama: Moving forward, I would ask that we all remember the weightiness of these issues; the stakes involved for Israel, for America, and for the world. Already, there is too much loose talk of war. Over the last few weeks, such talk has only benefited the Iranian government, by driving up the price of oil, which they depend upon to fund their nuclear program. 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; now is the time to let our increased pressure sink in, and to sustain the broad international coalition that we have built. Now is the time to heed that timeless advice from Teddy Roosevelt: speak softly, but carry a big stick. As we do, rest assured that the Iranian government will know our resolve, and that our coordination with Israel will continue.
If until very recently it looked like Netanyahu might be able to use the AIPAC conference as an opportunity to push Obama into a corner and escalate pressure to start a war against Iran, it now seems Obama will not yield to such pressure — at least not before November. But even if this policy of containment works over the coming months, the question remains: what will happen over the following four years (assuming Obama gets reelected)?
Earlier, the New York Times reported:
The pressure from an often-hostile Congress is also mounting. A group of influential senators, fresh from a meeting with Mr. Netanyahu in Jerusalem, has called on Mr. Obama to lay down sharper criteria, known as “red lines,” about when to act against Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
“We’re saying to the administration, ‘You’ve got a problem; let’s fix it, let’s get back on message,’ ” said Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, who took part in the meeting with Mr. Netanyahu and said the Israeli leader vented frustration at what he viewed as mixed messages from Washington.
“It’s not just about the Jewish vote and 2012,” Mr. Graham added. “It’s about reassuring people who want to avoid war that the United States will do what’s necessary.”
To give teeth to the deterrent threat against Iran, Israel and its backers want Mr. Obama to stop urging restraint on Israel and to be more explicit about the circumstances under which the United States itself would carry out a strike.
At least in this round of the fight, it looks like Obama’s GOP critics and the Israel lobby overplayed their hand. They made their expectations too explicit and in response Obama has reinforced his own “red lines” and they are not the ones the warmongers want.