Tuesday, April 13, 2010

U.S., Israel, Iran, and War

Two weeks ago, I wrote that Obama may have picked a fight with Israel to change the subject away from Democratic unwillingness to sanction war with Iran. Obama, in fact, has a strategy for dealing with Iran that he has linked directly to Israeli expansion of settlements into Palestinian territory.

Obama’s strategy for pressuring Iran to forego nuclear weapons, as the blog noted last year, involves first getting Israel to stop construction of new settlements in Palestinian areas, then using Israel’s cooperation on settlements to unite most of the Arab world against Iran’s nuclear program.

Israel isn’t cooperating, so Obama has reason to be upset with Israel. And he also has grounds to feel that lack of Israeli cooperation on settlements means Israel must care more about that issue than it does about uniting Arabs against Iran. As a senior White House official put it, “the Israelis need all of us to be working together on the common goal of keeping the pressure on the Iranians to back off.”

Comment: Obama makes a big mistake if he uses anger at Israeli settlement construction as an excuse to back the U.S. away from war with Iran. It seems Democrats don’t want war with Iran more than they don’t want Iran with the bomb. But Democrats shouldn’t gamble with our future in such a manner. As Israel and others understand, we have to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, even if that objective means war.

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