Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Obama Gave Netanyahu the Green Light on Iran

Most analysts think President Obama went to Israel in a public relations effort to smooth relations between the two countries. He wasn’t aiming for any breakthroughs in the peace process, and tried to dampen expectations in advance.  The visit may have started out that way, but by the end I think something significant did happen.

There are signs President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu have come to some sort of private understanding over Iran. I think Obama gave Netanyahu a green light to do whatever Israel has to do to stop Iran.  America will give Israel the advanced weapons it needs for a preemptive strike against Iran’s nuclear sites, but will not join in that fight. Obama said, “we’ve got your back,” but did not say "we’ll be with you shoulder to shoulder should fighting break out."

The joint press conference between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu was revealing:  The last time the two leaders met, their body language was so frigid you expected expect icicles to form on the windows. They could hardly bear to be in the same room with each other. Instead of the happy talk that usually accompanies Oval Office meetings they lectured each other, scowling the entire time.

it is absolutely imperative that we find a way out of this train wreck of having to choose between bombing Iran or letting Iran get the bomb.  
This time you had to wonder if they were the same two guys. All of a sudden they were like a stand-up comedy act in the Borscht Belt. They cracked jokes, complimented each other and smiled effusively.  They sure didn’t act like two guys who had just been sniping at each other behind closed doors.
But it wasn’t just friendlier body language; what they said was even more revealing. Here are four things that caught my attention:

1. Obama and Netanyahu both said Israel has the right to defend itself, by itself, against any threat.   They’ve said those words before, but this time they kept repeating the mantra, saying it several times, often using the very same words. Netanyahu said,  “Israel can never cede the right to defend ourselves to others, even to the greatest of our friends.” Obama said, “your first task is to keep the people of Israel safe.”

2. Israel and the US intelligence agencies now see eye to eye on how close Iran is to having nuclear weapons.  In the past Obama, and his aides have said the Iranian leaders hadn’t made the decision to ‘go nuclear,’ even though they were enriching uranium. It was always in stark contrast to Netanyahu’s statements that Israel was at the threshold.

This time Obama said, “our intelligence cooperation on this issue, the consultation between our militaries, our intelligence, is unprecedented, and there is not a lot of light, a lot of daylight between our countries’ assessments in terms of where Iran is right now.” Netanyahu echoed him by saying, “we share information and we have a common assessment” on Iran’s nuclear enrichment and weapons development programs. More

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