Bret Stephens (“Obama Is Pushing Israel Toward War“) asks this question:

Events are fast pushing Israel toward a pre-emptive military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, probably by next spring. That strike could well fail. Or it could succeed at the price of oil at $300 a barrel, a Middle East war, and American servicemen caught in between. So why is the Obama administration doing everything it can to speed the war process along?

The rest of Stephens’ well-written and persuasive piece makes the very important points that stopping Iran really is in the interest of the US, and that it better take Israel’s expressed concern seriously. But he doesn’t provide an answer to the question he poses at the start.

Maybe it’s intended to be a rhetorical question, but I would like an answer.

Here are some possible ones, with the most likely ones first:

  1. The administration doesn’t have a clue what to do, and is waiting for something to happen to give it an idea.
  2. The administration has decided that nothing can be done, it will live with a nuclear Iran and is confident of its ability to prevent Israel from attacking.
  3. The administration really believes that it can talk Iran out of building an actual weapon (and that this would solve the problem).
  4. The administration wants Israel to do it (Stephens points out that this is a bad idea from the US point of view).
  5. The administration has a secret plan to suddenly get Russia and China to agree to crippling sanctions.
  6. The administration plans to launch an attack itself.

I really, really hope I’m wrong but I suspect the answer is nos. 1, 2 or 3.

Of course what happens in real life, as Shalom Freedman would suggest, might be something wholly different and entirely unexpected.

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3 Responses to “Obama-Iranology”

  1. Shalom Freedman says:

    Once I thought that President Obama would make a sincere effort to dialogue with Iran, and when that failed, understand that he must pre-empt their nuclear program.
    Now I am far less confident of this conjecture. The Administration’s total failure to help the democratic forces in Iran, its essentially giving Ahmadinejad a ‘pass’ on the internal repression, and the total mendacity all along the way in regard to the nuclear program suggest to me that they are pretty much resigned to having an Iran with a nuclear capability. So I would think of all the options discussed in this article it is probably number two- that they are resigned to a nuclear Iran and believe they can stop Israel from attacking- which is their real thought and policy.
    If that is the case they are irresponsible fools. I stress the word ‘irresponsible’ because the President makes so much of being ‘responsible’. But what if he turns out to be the most irresponsible of all in this?
    I would add that the Bush Administration promised much and did nothing about Iran. The ‘sanctions’ gambit and talk is such patent nonsense.
    I would however point to another scenario which troubles me. It is precisely the one in which the U.S. does what it should and attacks Iran. This scenario worries me tremendously. Why? Because the damage which will be done within Israel by the rockets of Hizbollah and Hamas, and the missiles of Syria and Iran could truly be vast.
    A Machiavellian American leadership interested in forcing Israel’s hand at the peace table would probably be pleased with an outcome such as this. For such devastation of the civilian population might well being a ‘peace at any price’mentality to the country. But whether that is true or not, the prospect nonetheless of what Israel might be hit with as Iranian- Syria- and their surrogates response is truly worrisome.
    So while I believe the job of stopping Iran from going nuclear should be done. I am not sure at all that it will be worth the perhaps terrible price Israel will have to pay for it.

  2. Robman says:

    OK. First, it HAS to be done. Here’s why:

    If Iran, under the present regime, constructs a fleet of say, 30 warheads for their MRBMs (which they already have), they WILL initiate a nuclear war in SW Asia. Their tripwire for this is Hezbollah, who, on Iran’s orders at an opportune moment, will create the “crisis” that gives Iran her “excuse” to do so. Between this attack and Israel’s retaliation, the whole of the region will be destroyed. We are talking about 100 million dead in the first month, disaster beyond history, the whole region set back 2000 years. Wonder what THAT will do the the ‘world economy’….

    Why would the Iranians engage in such insane behavior? Because a) their medieval mentality ayatollahs believe it is their “religious duty” to get rid of the “Zionist entity”, and b) even the more “modern” of their decision makers believe they can “win” a nuclear war with Israel, that they could absorb her retaliation and rebuild after destroying the much smaller Jewish state. This is really not so outlandish, even if it is woefully ill-advised. After all, during the Cold War, many supposedly “sane”, educated people, in responsible positions on both sides of the Iron Curtain, believed in the “winnability” of nuclear war. And this was within the context of thousands – not hundreds – of warheads crossing paths.

    Iran might not have this capability for years (I’d SWAG it between five and ten), but they ARE very close to getting one bomb. Once they do this, the chances of anyone stopping them at that point approaches zero, as no one wants to take the attendant risk, maybe not even Israel, let alone the rest of the West.

    Sanctions are simply not going to work. Even if we could get the Europeans on board, the Russians and Chinese will undermine them. The Russians in particular are not going to sacrifice their “cash cow” – Iran – for the sake of the Joos.

    I think even Obama can see this, and I think he has grudgingly resigned himself to this eventuality. After all, even $300/barrel oil, yet another theater for American forces, etc., is better than a nuclear holocaust in SW Asia.

    This is why he his pushing Israel so damned hard for a crappy, humiliating peace deal. He knows what needs to be done, but he feels he has to have the support of America’s alleged “moderate” Arab allies – who are about a scared of Iran as is the case for Israel in any event – before he makes his move. So, by humiliating Israel and appeasing the “Arab street” in advance, he is hoping to garner some political “cover” for a move against Iran.

    Bibi’s main gambit in response would perhaps be to call Obama’s – and the larger Sunni Arab world’s – bluff and say “no” to this stupid “peace process”, under the assumption that action is going to have to occur against Iran anyway. But what if the anti-Semites – excuse me, “anti-Zionists” – that the Obama administration is rife with talk him into “punishing” Israel for not playing ball by not taking action against Iran? Does Israel move anyway and launch a strike of limited effectiveness that only delays Iran by a couple of years, but in the ensuing crisis, hastens the Obama/Arab agenda of setting up Israel as a pariah state a la Rhodesia of the 1970s? Does Israel restrain herself under this pressure and then goes on to rest any hope of her long-term survival on a revolution in Iran that overthrows the mullahs before they can strike?

    Does Obama, in effect, adopt a policy position of, “OK, Israel, we will leave you to the Iranian wolves, even if it results in the greatest man-made disaster in history, just because you wouldn’t cave into the demands of a bunch of murderous thugs.”??? I’d hate to believe this, but sadly and frighteningly, I wouldn’t put this past Obama and a lot of the people who advise him.

    At any rate, I don’t believe many serious people outside of Caroline Glick – whom I respect greatly – wants Israel to act alone. Most observers agree that the chances of Israel landing a truly decisive , telling blow with her own forces is relatively low. We need to kill this elephant, not wound it, and this can only be assured with U.S. forces.

    As for the likely retaliation of Hezbollah, etc., I’m quite sure Israel is prepared for that eventuality, and is hardly considering “peace at any price” under rocket fire. They will hit back as hard as they ever have. My greatest worry here is that the U.S. under Obama is even more likely than Bush to pull back on the “leash” and hamstring Israel’s efforts on this score with pressure from the UN, or even an arms embargo. If the U.S. were to support Israel on the same level as say, South Korea – even without U.S. military particiapation, just unequivocal diplomatic support and arms replenishment – I have no doubt that Israel could defeat her immediate adversaries. But that is what we might have expected under McCain, and not Neville Carter Hussein Obama.

    What a mess.

  3. jerry1800 says:

    Robman is right, nothing good will come out of Husain Barak Soetoro aka. Obama