Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is poised to visit the White House next week, and everyone believes the point of the visit is a face-to-face discussion on the possibility of Israel attacking Iran over its nuclear aspirations. In interviews, President Barack Obama seems to know the scrutiny he is under, but he is responding by turning up the heat on his rhetoric. He has stated that he is not bluffing on the Iran situation, and even responded to criticism about his strategy by saying “These aren’t video games that we’re playing here.” However, while it would seem at first glance that these comments are designed to turn up the heat on Iran, it may be that the comments are actually directed at Israel.
Many believe that there is some friction between the two allies on what should be done with regard to the Iran situation. It is widely thought that Israel is poised and ready to strike, but with the United States being tied to Israel militarily, such a bold move could leave the U.S. in a difficult dilemma. Obama wants Israel to hold off a little longer, giving time for international sanctions to be a possible remedy. However, part of convincing the Israelis to wait this thing out is reassuring them that the United States is ready and willing to act if it becomes necessary. The word on the street is that Netanyahu has had enough, and their meeting on Monday is Obama’s last chance to talk Israel out of taking military action against Iran. So, Obama is walking a thin line, dancing between staying out another international conflict, but also boldly proclaiming that he is not afraid to do so.
It’s hard to ignore the politics in play here. There are two schools of thought about Obama’s position politically with this situation. On the one hand, a war in Iran could be a positive for his reelection campaign. George W. Bush was not exactly immensely popular when he was elected to a second term back in 2004, but it seemed that Americans were simply wary of changing leadership in the heat of a war. It is possible that Obama could benefit in the same way if a conflict broke out in Iran in the next few months. Americans might be more likely to stick with him because of fears that changing leaders shows a lack of solidarity on the home front. On the other hand, Obama may be thinking that getting into another war that may be extremely unpopular all over again, just like the Iraq invasion, could damage his campaign.
One thing is for certain in all of this. Iran seems to have no interest in giving in, and they have actually taken steps to show their disinterest with the sanctions by cutting off European nations from oil voluntarily. Iran holds that there are plenty of nations out there that would be more than happy to purchase their oil, and they are not worried in the least about the sanctions being levied against them. It seems that war is inevitable. Perhaps President Obama thinks if he can just hold the Israelis off long enough to get himself reelected, he could then invade Iran without any worries entering his final term.
Of course, this is all speculation. Who knows what will be said behind the closed doors of the Oval Office when Netanyahu arrives? Or how many lives might hang in the balance?