President Obama and Israeli Prime Mininster Binyamin Netanyahu split during three hours of meetings at the White House today on the definition of what point an attack against Iran must be launched, with Obama focused on the end point of an Iranian nuclear weapon and Netanyahu seeking to define the a “red line” as a more nebulous “nuclear capability,” according to the Wall Street Journal.
The issue is a critical one and speaks directly to Israeli fears about Obama, who has in the past reached out to the Iranians, showing a willingness to trust them in ways the current Israeli leadership views as hopelessly naive.
If there is too much focus on drawing the red line at the point of a nuclear weapon, Iran will draw the talks out until it has a capacity to make a weapon quickly, even if it does not actually do so.
Obama may already have let this situation go too far before enacting biting sanctions, which should have been brought to bear two years ago. Iran is so far along in its quest now that a little foot dragging, and decision to reach a “deal” and then break it, could easily bring it to the point where the Mullahs have the ability to quickly make a weapon in an area sealed from our bombs.
Who really knows what’s going on in Iran? The North Koreans had an entire facility we didn’t know about. The Israelis are right to demand a very fast timetable for Iran to cry uncle.
But instead they are asked to trust Obama, who has already played footsie with the Iranians, fist bumped Hugo Chavez, bowed to the Saudis, has a warm relationship with the anti-Israeli Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, refused to add serious U.S. power to the Libya operation, won’t help the Syrian rebels, and is in headlong retreat from Afghanistan after removing too many troops from Iraq.
I’ve written that Obama may be for real when he says he would bomb Iran. But his Chamberlainesque temperament may ensure he waits too long while seeking “peace in our time.”