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The prime minister of Israel is angry with Barack Obama and is coming here to force a hardening of U.S. policy toward Iran.
“Bibi” Netanyahu had his anger on display at a meeting in Israel with Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham.
McCain emerged saying he had never seen an Israeli prime minister “that unhappy.” “He was angry,” said McCain. “I’ve never seen U.S.-Israel relations at this point.”
“The Israelis are unnerved,” said Graham. “They think the administration is sending the wrong signal, and so do I.”
What has so enraged Netanyahu? The Obama policy of tightening sanctions on Iran while holding out the opportunity for Tehran to negotiate and provide guarantees that its nuclear program is not aimed at an atomic bomb.
The U.S. intelligence community unanimously believes that Iran is some time away, perhaps years, from being able to produce a nuclear weapon and has not made the command decision to build one.
Israel retorts that Iran is entering a “zone of immunity,” when Israel will lack the ability to attack and abort Iran’s nuclear program, as new nuclear sites are being moved underground. Netanyahu’s government is also angry at what it sees as U.S. leaders’ distancing themselves from Israel.
When that fifth Iranian nuclear scientist was assassinated and Tehran accused America and Israel of complicity, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton denounced the murder, leaving Israel as prime suspect.
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta leaked to columnist David Ignatius that Israel might strike Iran in April, May or June, leaving no doubt as to who wants a war, while ex-CIA Director Michael Hayden openly disparages Israel’s capacity to cripple Iran’s nuclear sites: “They only have the ability to make this worse.”
Adm. William Fallon, who headed U.S. Central Command, has been categorical: “No one I am aware of thinks that there is a positive outcome from a military strike” on Iran.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Martin Dempsey has called Iran a “rational actor” and told the Israelis that for them to attack Iran now would be “premature,” “destabilizing” and imprudent.
Netanyahu said that Dempsey’s remarks “served Iran” and the general was “unwilling to aid Israel.”
Like Panetta, U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has said he does not believe that Iran has decided to build a bomb, while National Security Adviser Tom Donilon spent three days in Israel, reportedly arguing against an Israeli attack.
“The Israelis are 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 Iran by publicly questioning the timing and utility of such strikes.” So write Jay Solomon and Carol Lee of The Wall Street Journal.
Netanyahu is coming to Washington, the Journal writers add, to demand that Obama spell out the “red lines” Iran will not be allowed to cross without triggering a U.S. attack.
What Netanyahu wants is a U.S. ultimatum to Iran.
White House sources say that when Obama meets Netanyahu Tuesday, he will reject the prime minister’s demands.
But the pressure to shorten the timetable for war is intense and growing.
Obama will speak Sunday to the annual assembly of the Israeli lobby AIPAC. Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney, all more hawkish than the president, have also been invited to address the conclave.
Three dozen senators have signed on to a resolution declaring it a U.S. “vital national interest” that Iran not possess even a “nuclear weapons capability.”
S.R. 380 reads like a resolution crafted as a casus belli, a cause for war. For South Korea, Brazil and Japan all have a “nuclear weapons capability,” as all have the industrial proficiency and technical know-how to build an atomic bomb, should they chose to do so.
The resolution demands that Iran halt all uranium production and end its ballistic missile program, and declares “unacceptable” any U.S. policy of containment of an Iran that is capable of building a bomb, even if Iran has decided not to build a bomb.
Containment succeeded with a Soviet Empire with 10,000 nuclear weapons, but is apparently inadequate for dealing with an Iran that has no atom bombs, only the potential to build one.
S.R. 380 points directly toward a U.S. war on Iran.
Who wants that war? Netanyahu, his government, and his allies in U.S. politics and the press, and in a Congress that gave him 29 standing ovations the last time he spoke there.
Who does not want a war?
The White House, the Pentagon, the Joint Chiefs, the intelligence community, the antiwar left and Old Right, and millions of Americans who believe a U.S. war on Iran could ignite a sectarian and regional war that could prove catastrophic for the Middle East, the world economy and the United States of America.
Patrick J. Buchanan [send him mail] is co-founder and editor of The American Conservative. He is also the author of seven books, including Where the Right Went Wrong, and Churchill, Hitler, and the Unnecessary War. His latest book is Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025? See his website.