The United States and Israel are well-known allies on the international scene, but recent events may make that soon to be a thing of the past. In a spectacular move, President Barack Obama has refused to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this month when he visits the United Nations. Israel submitted a formal request to meet with President Obama, and since 2009, Obama has met with Netanyahu every trip to the United States except one. The timing of this one is what is making it such a controversial issue.
Israel has been mulling over attacking Iran over its potential nuclear arms program for months now. Netanyahu seems to be for attacking sooner rather than later and has been rallying the troops in his home country to gain support for action. The White House has urged Israel to do no such thing, still harping on diplomacy and sanctions as the best way to deal with the problem. However, despite a fourth round of sanctions, Iran has not softened its stance on its nuclear program an iota. They continue to insist that the nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only to help meet the large nation’s demand for power. Almost no one on the international scene believes this, and there have been increasing murmurings of late in the intelligence world that Iran may be closer to producing a nuclear weapon than was previously thought.
Many people believe that President Obama is so against an Israeli military action because of the upcoming election. Americans are weary of war, and part of Obama’s campaign platforms both past and present have been ending the two conflicts that America has been involved in for years. The conflict in Iraq is basically over, but Obama still has plans in motion to withdraw troops from Afghanistan in 2014. While historically things like this help a sitting president in a reelection bid, it seems that Obama and company might believe that entering into a coalition with Israel to bomb Iran might be seen as him going against his platform. There is also the unknown factor of how Iran will respond. If the nuclear programs were destroyed by Israel, would Iran escalate this into a full on war? Would they attack American forces in the region as well or limit their aggression to Israel? It’s hard to say exactly what Iran will do, but it is safe to say that they won’t take their ball and go home.
While the logistics are not known by the public, many experts theorize that Israel needs the United States to support it if it decides to attack Iran. Iran’s nuclear targets are primarily underground and it is thought that Israel does not have the technology needed to take them out. Working together with the U.S. would maximize their chances of success, but it would also put the U.S. firmly on one side, and that seems to bother the Obama camp. This theory explains why Israel would even be concerned about the American stance on such an action; basically, if they could do it alone, they probably would have already done it.
While the official reason for the Presidential snub will probably be chalked up to campaign events, the real reason may go a lot deeper. Obama may simply be stalling, knowing good and well that the main item on the agenda for a Netanyahu visit is discussing an attack on Iran. So, there you go. That’s the current American President. Bury your head in the sand and try to wait this thing out until after the election. What a perfect politician. Israel wants the world to stand as a united front and give Iran a firm deadline for stopping what it is doing, or a “red line” as Netanyahu has referred to it in his comments earlier in the year. As early as Monday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that there was no time frame in place for dealing with Iran and that there was still time and hope for diplomacy to work. It seems that Netanyahu and the people of Israel do not agree. Polls in Israel indicate that the general public wants to do something about Iran, but the majority want to do it with the United States in tow, not without them.
So, what do you think? Is Obama just trying to wait this thing out until after November? Or is he trying to sever American ties to Israel once and for all, ending one of the world’s most powerful alliances?