Why Israel Can't Rely on Romney in the Israel-Iran Conflict
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Sanctions are failing to persuade the Iranian regime to stop enriching uranium, and negotiations with members of the United Nations Security Council are bearing no fruit.
With these failures in mind, Israeli officials have intensified their rhetoric. The defense minister, Ehud Barak, told an audience this week at Israel's National Defense College that although he is "well aware of the difficulties involved in thwarting Iran's attempts to acquire a nuclear weapon," he believes that "dealing with the threat itself will be far more complicated, far more dangerous and far more costly in resources and human life."
Barak and the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, have argued that they don't want to subcontract the task of attacking Iran's nuclear program to the U.S. They think the Jewish state shouldn't rely on others for its defense. Still, there's a good chance they will postpone action until after the U.S. election, which is what the Obama administration says it wants them to do.
Netanyahu would never say this publicly, but as a longtime watcher of the prime minister, I can say with reasonable surety that if Netanyahu were a more religiously observant Jew, he would be stuffing notes into the Western Wall right now, asking God to help Mitt Romney in Florida and Ohio. For Netanyahu, who is dispositionally and ideologically aligned with the U.S. Republican party, only a muscular conservative can be trusted to take the hardest line against Iran.
On the matter of Iran, however, Netanyahu would be wrong to root for Romney. Barack Obama is the one who's more likely to confront Iran militarily, should sanctions and negotiations fail. He has committed himself to stopping Iran by any means necessary, and he has a three-year record as president to back his rhetoric. Romney has only rhetoric, and he would be hamstrung in many ways if he chose military confrontation.
Romney, who is visiting Netanyahu in Jerusalem this weekend, isn't soft on the matter. He told a Veterans of Foreign Wars convention this week that, "A clear line must be drawn" with Iran: "There must be a full suspension of any enrichment, period. And at every turn, Iran must know that the United States and our allies stand as one in these critical objectives. Only in this way can we successfully counter the catastrophic threat that Iran presents." He went on, "I pledge to you and to all Americans that if I become commander-in-chief, I will use every means necessary to protect ourselves and the region, and to prevent the worst from happening while there is still time."
Source: Bloomberg | Jeffrey Goldberg
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