Israel's Clock Is Running Out on Iran
by JED BABBIN
August 28, 2012
Last February Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said "Israel is a true cancer tumor on this region that should be cut off." Khamenei promised to support any groups fighting Israel anywhere in the world. On about August 17, Iranian President Ahmadinejad said Israel's existence is an insult to humanity. There has been an almost steady stream of Iranian provocations like these. Meanwhile, Iran's nuclear weapons program proceeds unabated.
This week, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will attend a summit of the 120 UN "non-aligned" nations in Tehran giving the Iranian kakistocracy the legitimacy it craves, further isolating Israel and diminishing America's position in the Middle East.
What comes next will be a war between Israel and Iran. Unfortunately, there's a lot of fuzzy thinking going around about how that war could be prevented. In short, it cannot.
Too little and too much has been made of the conflicting statements by White House press secretary Jay Carney and Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren's statements on diplomatic efforts to stop Iran's development of nuclear weapons.
Carney, in a press briefing two weeks ago, said the Obama administration believed there was still "time and space" for sanctions to work. Shortly after that, Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren said Israel's clock "is ticking faster" than America's. Oren repeated the statement made by Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu late last month that sanctions have failed to stop Iran's nuclear program. Not that they are failing or are likely to fail. Netanyahu used the present perfect tense, not the future, and he is correct. That means Israel's moment to take military action has almost arrived.
Oren also said that while Israel appreciates the supporting rhetoric coming from Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, there are "structural differences between the United States and Israel which we can't ignore."
Too much has been made of this because most of the analysis is entirely wrong. Analysts have said this indicates that Netanyahu has decided to attack Iran before the U.S. election, which is almost certainly untrue. Too little has been made of it because it indicates how dire the Israelis believe the situation has become, and how little influence America will have at the onset or the end of what is likely to become the largest war the Middle East has ever seen.
Perhaps the most wrong-headed analysis came from the least likely source. Charles Krauthammer's August 24 column said that Israel was either engaged in the "most elaborate deception since the Trojan horse or it is on the cusp of a preemptive strike on Iran's nuclear facilities." Krauthammer proceeds from that assertion to adopt CSIS analyst Tony Cordesman's three points to forestall the conflict.
Cordesman, as Krauthammer relates, says there should be a statement of "clear U.S. red lines" that Iran cannot cross, that we must make it clear to Iran that it has no successful options for developing nuclear weapons and that we need to give the Iranians a "face-saving way out."
But Israel isn't required to choose between deception and imminent war. In fact, any successful strategy would have to combine the two and give flexibility to the term "imminent." Because America's influence on both Iran and Israel has been significantly diminished by Obama's hostility toward Israel -- and his comprehensive weakness in dealing with Iran -- we lack the credibility of posting "clear red lines" or imposing a non-nuclear option on Iran.
Former Contributing Editor, now Editor of Human Events, Jed Babbin is Former Deputy Undersecretary of Defense (Bush 41), and best-selling author of Inside the Asylum: Why the UN and Old Europe Are Worse Than You Think and the recently released Showdown: Why China Wants War with the United States. Mr. Babbin is a military and foreign affairs analyst and appears regularly on top-rated shows on the major broadcast networks to offer his expertise. He is a regular guest host for several national radio programs, notably the Laura Ingraham Show, Oliver North's "Common Sense Radio," and the Hugh Hewitt and Greg Garrison shows.