It’s easy to doubt the commitment of President Obama to using military force. He so clearly dismayed at having to wage war in Afghanistan, making the foolhardy decision to set a timetable for withdrawal – and signal his urge to get out to the enemy – even while increasing the number of troops there.
But recent comments by the president show that he will either attack Iran militarily – the preferable and most likely option – or let the Israelis do it.
Let’s start with a presupposition: sanctions won’t work. Impartial, knowledgeable observers – like former International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei – do not believe the Iranians are simply going to back off their long quest for nuclear weapons because of some economic pain. If sanctions do work, fine, great. But they won’t.
As revealed in the new book “Obama’s Wars” by Bob Woodward, which comes out Monday, Obama’s worst nightmare is a nuclear attack on the United States. From the Washington Post report on the book:
Obama, in the interview with Woodward, called a nuclear attack here “a potential game changer.” He said: “When I go down the list of things I have to worry about all the time, that is at the top, because that’s one where you can’t afford any mistakes.”
If Iran has a nuclear weapons, there will be a nuclear attack on the United States. Either they will do it themselves, or they’ll give it to Hezbollah to do. Or terrorists will get a weapon from one of the other states in the region that will be forced to build nukes if Iran gets them.
“Iran having a nuclear weapon would be a real problem,” Obama told a CNBC “Town Hall” meeting Monday.
And here is what he said about Iran during his address to the UN Thursday, comments which were near the top of his remarks.
The United States and the international community seek a resolution to our differences with Iran, and the door remains open to diplomacy should Iran choose to walk through it. But the Iranian government must demonstrate a clear and credible commitment and confirm to the world the peaceful intent of its nuclear program.
This has been interpreted by some Obama critics as yet another sign of weakness – that he wants to continue talking. But let’s look at the statement closely, which of course is happening in Tehran. Saying the door “remains open” clearly suggests that it’s going to close. It’s a threat. And it’s only open under certain conditions.
And then today, in an interview with BBC Persian, Obama similarly said diplomacy “remains possible,” again signaling that the path is time-limited.
Q If these sanctions fail, what are your options, Mr. President?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think there are a whole host of options and these options would be exercised in consultation with the international community. Our strong preference is to resolve these issues diplomatically. I think that’s in Iran’s interest. I think that is in the interest of the international community. And I think it remains possible. But it is going to require a change in mindset inside the Iranian government.
. . . there should be a mechanism whereby they can assure and prove to the international community, including the IAEA, that that is in fact the case. And if they take those constructive steps in serious negotiations, then not only should there not be a threat of war but there also won’t be the sanctions that are currently in place.
Obama is also suggesting that the bar for sanctions’ success is pretty high – not just some new proposals, but a “change in the mindset” of the leadership – or more precisely, perhaps, a change in the leadership.
And what are these “whole host of options that WOULD be exercised?” That too is a threat. I’m aware of one option, and not many more: the military option.
Obama also gave the rationale for giving Israel the green light, if that’s the path he chooses.
Q What if during this process of diplomacy, Israel decides to attack Iran? Will you stop them?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I’m not going to engage in hypotheticals. I think that, understandably, Israel is very concerned when the president of a country, a large country near them, states that they should be wiped off the face of the Earth.
This buttresses the notion that, one way or another, Obama is committed to military action. And if he wants success, he knows that only the United States has the capacity to assure it.
Obama will bomb Iran. Mark my word.