Netanyahu looking determined 370.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
The reported deal proposed to the Iranians in Geneva by the Obama administration
was not aimed at halting Iran’s nuclear march.
It was meant to block an
Israeli preemptive attack.
Had France not objected, the deal between the
world’s major powers and the mullahs would have essentially put the lid on any
Israeli attack as diplomatically suicidal, or so Washington had apparently
It must be understood that stopping Iran’s nuclear weapons program
is, and has been, secondary to Obama’s foremost goal of avoiding involvement in
another far-off military confrontation.
Accordingly, the leaders deemed
most hazardous to Washington’s supreme national interest are those who could
drag America into war by acting “recklessly.” Today they are the ones residing
If this sounds as if Washington has taken a page from the
mullah’s propaganda book it might be recalled that Wendy Sherman, the chief US
negotiator, told journalists on the eve of the Geneva gathering that Washington
sought an interim deal to “put time on the clock.”
The idea, she said,
was to “negotiate the final agreement without Iran’s nuclear program continuing
to march forward.” Left unsaid but clearly understood was that slowing down the
Israeli clock would be accomplished as well.
Indeed Obama’s failure to
uphold his own publicly announced “red line” against the use of chemical weapons
in Syria should be the final confirmation that there is no military option on
the American president’s table regarding Iran.
The mullahs were quick to
recognize Obama’s true agenda and thus their sudden haste to reach an
Their strategy was simple and effective – the more they
provoked Israel into issuing warnings and flexing its muscles the greater the
alarm felt by the Obama administration about an imminent explosion in the Middle
East, and the lower the price Iran would have to offer to reach a nuclear deal
Incredibly, Israel obliged. Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu issued frequent warnings that time is running out to stop Iran
diplomatically, that Israel will take care of its own security and that it will
do so even if it “stands alone.” Israel also rattled its sabers.
example on the eve of the Geneva talks it became known that the Israel Air
Force(IAF) had conducted an “unusually large exercise” over the northern border
and the Mediterranean Sea on the night of October 12-13.
A few days
earlier it was announced that the IAF held a series of drills which included
midair refueling, long-distance coordinated strikes, and dogfights, carried out
over Greek waters. The video of the exercises released on that occasion by the
IAF marked the first time the military had made such a clip publicly
The Israeli warnings and muscle- flexing were undertaken
despite clear evidence the approach was backfiring – witness the non-stop
pilgrimage of senior Obama administration officials who rushed to Jerusalem to
press for restraint.
In essence Israel’s policy has been utterly
counterproductive – it failed to deter Iran’s march to the bomb yet firmed
Obama’s conviction that he must placate the mullahs if he is to maintain his
military disengagement agenda and prevent a Middle East war.
internationalization of the Iran nuclear issue – which began under Ariel Sharon
and was promoted to the max by Netanyahu – is generally considered a wise
strategy in Israel, its pitfalls have increasingly become
Mobilizing the world’s major powers to handle Iran curtailed
Israel’s freedom of action. It undermined the credibility of Israel’s military
option vis-a-vis Iran. Israel also lost control over the outcome of any
negotiations with Tehran.
It had put Israel’s relations with its greatest
strategic ally – the US – in jeopardy.
Most importantly, opting for
international diplomacy wasted precious time to act, and the delay also helped
Iran move ever closer to the bomb.
Netanyahu’s panicked reaction to the
deal being hatched in Washington indicates his belated recognition of the costs
of his approach. Ironically he now castigates his international “partners,”
asking “what is the rush” to reach a “bad” agreement with Iran.
loud protestations are nothing more than a desperate attempt to publicly
exonerate himself as the diplomatic trap he himself helped set envelope Israel.
The writer is the author of The Continuing Storm: Iraq, Poisonous
Weapons and Deterrence (Yale University Press).