Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Will Israel Be Accused Now Of Being A Warmonger On Iran?

From DG:

Is Israel on the verge of being accused of being a warmonger: First Iraq and now Iran!?

That's been the subtext of a lot of the reporting and punditry out therein reaction to Obama's AIPAC speech.

Here's the NYT (editorial) on President Obama's speech:

Mr. Obama has long said that all options are on the table. In recent days his language has become more pointed —urged on, undoubtedly, by Israel’s threats to act alone.

Last week he told The Atlantic, “when the United States says it is unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon, we mean what we say.” In a speech on Sunday to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, he declared that his policy is not to contain Iran, it is “to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”

The United States military is far more capable of doing serious damage to Iran’s facilities than the Israeli military, but the cost would still be high, with many of the same dangers and uncertainties.

Mr. Obama is right that military action should only be the last resort, but Israel should not doubt this president’s mettle. Neither should Iran.

The editors understood the speech as President Obama telling Israel to cool it and rely on American might. (Which I believe is the J-Street response.)

Dana Milbank was even more explicit with AIPAC beats the drums of war.

It’s beginning to feel a lot like 2003 in the capital. Nine years ago this month, there was a similar feeling of inevitability —that despite President George W. Bush’s frequent insistence that “war is my last choice,” war in Iraq was coming. Now Israel is moving toward a preemptive strike on Iran’s nuclear program, and American leaders are coming before AIPAC this week to give their blessings.

The Washington Post's editorial was much more sober and responsible.

The gap this leaves in U.S.-Israeli relations is nevertheless twofold. First, Mr. Netanyahu’s government contends that Iran must be stopped not just from building a bomb but also from acquiring the capacity to do so. Second, Israel is reluctant to allow Iran to pass into a “zone of immunity” in which key nuclear facilities might be invulnerable to Israeli attack. Though the United States would retain the capacity to act, Mr. Netanyahu may not countenance a situation in which Israel is not “master of its fate.” It’s also possible —even likely —that, having established the principle that Israel is prepared to act unilaterally, Mr. Netanyahu and his government will choose not to do so. That would give the United States and its allies an opportunity to probe Iran’s willingness to make concessions in another round of negotiations, which are expected this spring. Otherwise, Mr. Obama’s pledge that “the United States will always have Israel’s back when it comes to Israel’s security” will be put to the test.

In the coming months we will see a lot more of the NYT/Milbank stuff subtly and not so subtly charging that Israel's dragging the United States into a war for its own interests.

(I believe you see it in this "fact checker" Glenn Kessler's profile of Dennis Ross from 2009. Note how charges that Ross's pro-Israel credentials would limit his effectiveness in dealing with Iran are treated uncritically.)

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