Netanyahu Needs to Quiet Iran Rhetoric
March 9, 2012
After meeting with President Barack Obama at the Oval Office March 5, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu needs to make his case against Iran’s nuclear program more quietly, hidden behind the civilized veneer of international diplomacy. Going public more than ever with threats of military action against Iran hurts Israeli national security and does not accomplish his goal of getting a solid coalition against the Persian state. While a recent report by the International Atomic Energy Agency about suspected nuclear mop up operations around Iran’s military sites stirs questions about atomic weapon development, it doesn’t give Netanyahu a license for provocation. At his Oval Office meeting with Bibi, Obama promised that he would not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon but asked the Israeli Prime Minister to show some restraint while sanctions take hold.
Threatening military action against the Persian state does nothing other than push the world closer to the brink. No one knows for sure whether any attack would halt Iran’s nuclear ambitions but it’s certain to push world oil and gas prices over the precipice. With the global economy emerging from recession, any attack in the Persian Gulf or vicinity would cause an economic jolt, likely setting back economic recovery. U.S. oil and gas prices recently spiked on pure speculation about a possible attack. Any real strike would cause retaliatory attacks and push world oil and gas prices into the stratosphere. Now pushing $4 a gallon in most U.S. big cities, a military operation could spiral oil and gas prices out of control, stalling a fragile economic recovery in the U.S. and Europe. “Both the Prime Minister and I prefer to solve this diplomatically,” said Obama at his March 6 meeting.
When Obama spoke March 5 to the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee [AIPAC], he warned against premature military intervention, asking Israel to give diplomacy more time. He also told the powerful Jewish lobby that “he had Israel’s back” and was not bluffing when he warned Iran that all options were on the table. ‘Ultimately, Iran has to make the decision to move in that direction,” said Barack, asking Iran to suspend any work toward weapons’ development. “When I say all options are on the table, I mean it,” trying to reassure Netanyahu that the U.S. stands with Israel in its determination to keep nukes out of Iranian hands. Since their meeting, Nentanyahu has made a full court press about Israel’s rights to preemptively attack Iran regardless of the current state of Iran’s nuclear arms development. Iran denies that it’s involved in atomic weapons’ work.
Comparing Iran to Nazi Germany and insisting Israel won’t sit idly by while Iran plots Israel’s destruction, Netanyahu offended many in his own party, in and out of Israel. Netanyahu believes that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmandinejad would drop an A-bomb on Tel Aviv based on flippant, rhetorical remarks made by Ahmandinejad in 2005 about “wiping Israel off the map.” Netanyahu takes Ahmandinejad literally when he knows that many Arab countries, including Jordan, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, etc., don’t include the map of Israel in school textbooks. “As prime minister of Israel, I will never let my people live in the shadow of annihilation." Since Israel was founded in 1948 over the objections of Arab states, Israel has been through at least four wars of annihilation. With all the U.S. military help over Arab objections, Israel has always lived under the threat of annihilation.
Netanyahu bases his fears of annihilation on Ahmadinejad’s flowery—though hostile—language largely used for popular consumption. Of all the Mideast countries, Iran has been more hospitable to Jews over the centuries than other Arab regimes. No one wants to see a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. Netanyahu’s assumption that Iran would automatically nuke Israel is preposterous. Apart from the Iran-Iraq War [1980-88], Iran has not been known to attack its neighbors or show undue aggression. While some argue that Iran funds and arms terrorist groups, like Hezbollah in Lebanon, it’s also true that many other Mideast countries give to terror groups. Going to war against Iran to halt its nuclear program would practically assure more aggression. When Pakistan got the bomb in 1999, the same objections were raised by the U.S. and India: So far, no nuclear attack on India.
Netanyahu needs to tamp down the belligerent rhetoric and let the U.S.-led international coalition deal with Iran’s nuclear shenanigans. Instead of bringing all parties to the bargaining table, more heated talk pushes diplomacy out of reach. Netanyahu needs to listen to Obama when he commits to the same objective of preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Obama’s political survival and legacy are built on preventing Iran from getting the bomb. If Ahmandinejad succeeds in getting a nuke on Obama’s watch, it will have catastrophic effects on the Democratic Party. “Today we have a state of our own. And the purpose of the Jewish state is to defend Jewish lives and to secure the Jewish future,” said Netanyahu, knowing full well Israel’s future is tied to the United States. Controlling the belligerent rhetoric is the best way to secure the Jewish state.
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