We have a high-octane tussle tonight between the White House and the Netanyahu government in Israel. It started with a Netanyahu speech suggesting that the US had lost its “moral right” to block an Israeli attack on Iran by failing to put red lines beyond which Iran couldn’t go.
That was followed by a leak from Netanyahu’s team claiming that Netanyahu had requested a meeting with Obama when he travels to the UN — only to be refused. The White House scrambled tonight putting out a flat denial of that claim. In essence, the White House called the Israelis liars.
As I mentioned a moment ago in an impromptu editorial meeting, this has obvious political implications for the US election. But I don’t think the intensity of the engagement is mainly about politics. It’s about policy.
Netanyahu desperately wants an attack on Iran. The White House desperately wants to avoid war. The stakes are quite, quite high.
I agree, but as Bernard Finel points out at the Juice:
The notion that Israel will launch a unilateral attack on Iran is almost surely a bluff. It is not clear how they would do it, and no analysis I’ve seen suggests that can launch an effective attack by themselves. Natanyahu may be reckless, but Israel is, in the end, a democracy, and there are checks and balances as well as various civil-military constraints on action.
So while the Obama team may not be eager to get into a pissing match with Natanyahu over Iran in the weeks before the election, there isn’t any “reason to fear” that this situation will transform the election. If anything, Obama’s steady foreign policy hand would be a plus when compared to the desperate rants we’re likely to get from the Romney camp.
Israel would have hit Iran long ago if they honestly believed they had no choice. What Bibi is trying to do is force that no choice scenario, and he's doing so in such a way that he's influencing the US election. There should be a massive backlash from Congress. Sadly, it's one bought and paid for, both parties, by AIPAC. No backlash is coming.
Now Bibi is trying to bully his way to a Romney victory and a green light to hit Iran. Given the insanity of the GOP and Romney's utter failure in foreign policy credibility, that's a guarantee should Obama lose.
Yet another reason why you need to get out and vote Obama in November, as if you needed another one.