Peter Beinart writes: For years now, Israelis have been noisily debating military action against Iran. And their conclusion, according to polls, is that America should do it. That’s somewhat ironic given that self-reliance — never again putting Jewish destiny in non-Jewish hands — is core to the Zionist ideal. But it’s also quite rational: an American strike would likely set back Tehran’s nuclear progress far more than an Israeli one would. And an American strike would not leave Israel as isolated in the world.
The problem is that back here in the United States, we haven’t been noisily debating military action against Iran. Yes, we’ve watched the Israeli debate voyeuristically. Countless pundits have weighed in on whether the Iranian regime would really risk its own survival to end Israel’s, on what Israel’s military capacities really are, on how Iran might strike back. But there’s been much less discussion of whether an attack on Iran is in America’s interest. And that needs to change.
It needs to change because Israel keeps nudging the U.S. closer to war. During his trip to Washington this spring, Benjamin Netanyahu hinted that Israel was close to launching a strike and reportedly urged President Obama to more explicitly pledge military action to prevent Iran from attaining a nuclear bomb. Obama did just that, rejecting a policy of containing a nuclear Iran and telling The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg that his threat to use military action to prevent Iran from going nuclear was not a “bluff.”
Now Israel reportedly is on the verge of attacking yet again and pushing for an even blunter pledge that America will attack, perhaps by next summer. “They are aiming for a specific thing,” former Obama defense official Colin Kahl recently told The Washington Post. “They may be trying to push the Obama administration into a much greater declaration of red lines, an even more declarative statement about the use of force.”
This is nuts. In our political system, presidents are not empowered to promise to launch wars in backroom negotiations with foreign leaders. [Continue reading…]