There is a fascinating interview with Jeffrey Goldberg(The Atlantic) that I have not had time to go through( I will put an update here later) but the bottom line is that the President is making sure that both countries understand that he doesn't bluff
and you can always ask the Somali pirates or bin Laden to confirm that :-). It is a very well thought out nuanced explanation of his position and one that makes a whole lot of sense. I just hope he is able to convince AIPAC and Israel to let his strategy work. It will lead to a more permanent solution as opposed to just a temporary delay.
Election year politics and gas prices are further complicating this issue of course.
Here is the link
Ok, here's more detail. This is the first update. To be fair, there is another side tho this argument that I will try and update later(sneaking this in at work).
Here is the gist of the article:
Dismissing a strategy of "containment" as unworkable, the president tells me it's "unacceptable" for the Islamic Republic of Iran to have a nuclear weapon.Let me summarize a number of points from the article:
At the White House on Monday, President Obama will seek to persuade the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to postpone whatever plans he may have to bomb Iran's nuclear facilities in the coming months. Obama will argue that under his leadership, the United States "has Israel's back," and that he will order the U.S. military to destroy Iran's nuclear program if economic sanctions fail to compel Tehran to shelve its nuclear ambitions.
In the most extensive interview he has given about the looming Iran crisis, Obama told me earlier this week that both Iran and Israel should take seriously the possibility of American action against Iran's nuclear facilities. "I think that the Israeli government recognizes that, as president of the United States, I don't bluff." He went on, "I also don't, as a matter of sound policy, go around advertising exactly what our intentions are. But I think both the Iranian and the Israeli governments recognize that when the United States says it is unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon, we mean what we say."
* Iran's nuclear weapons capability is a threat to the US and the world, not just Israel. Imagine India-Pakistan 5 times over if Iran gets the bomb. That region would be a disaster and you can kiss the Arab Spring goodbye.
"You're talking about the most volatile region in the world," he said. "It will not be tolerable to a number of states in that region for Iran to have a nuclear weapon and them not to have a nuclear weapon. Iran is known to sponsor terrorist organizations, so the threat of proliferation becomes that much more severe." He went on to say, "The dangers of an Iran getting nuclear weapons that then leads to a free-for-all in the Middle East is something that I think would be very dangerous for the world."* Bombing Iran is a temporary solution. In 2 years, you have to do it again. Better examples are Libya, S. Africa and now it looks like N. Korea where you make them give it up willingly.
Our argument is going to be that it is important for us to see if we can solve this thing permanently, as opposed to temporarily," he said, "and the only way historically that a country has ultimately decided not to get nuclear weapons without constant military intervention has been when they themselves take [nuclear weapons] off the table. That's what happened in Libya, that's what happened in South Africa."* He does acknowledge that Israel frames it differently and that the Jewish past, including the Holocaust, does drive their thinking but makes it a point to also say that they need to start letting that go.
And though broadly sympathetic to Netanyahu's often-stated fear that Iran's nuclear program represents a Holocaust-scale threat to the Jewish state, and the Jewish people, Obama suggested strongly that historical fears cannot be the sole basis for precipitous action: "The prime minister is head of a modern state that is mindful of the profound costs of any military action, and in our consultations with the Israeli government, I think they take those costs, and potential unintended consequences, very seriously."* He explains how his policies have reversed the situation in 3 years. A united International community and a divided Iran! Excellent point.
* Not in article The sanctions regime is working. Check out the value of the Rial over the last few months. It is no longer being accepted by the money changers in Tehran
* Not in article but the upcoming elections in Iran are also a test of political muscle between the Supreme leader and the President leading to more unrest. Possible impeachment has openly been talked about.
Here were some other interesting quotes in there. I would encourage you to take the time and read through the entire piece.
This is one of the few times in the history of U.S.-Israeli relations where you have a government from the right in Israel at the same time you have a center-left government in the United States, and so I think what happens then is that a lot of political interpretations of our relationship get projected onto this.I love this one:
Look, if people want to say about me that I have a profound preference for peace over war, that every time I order young men and women into a combat theater and then see the consequences on some of them, if they're lucky enough to come back, that this weighs on me -- I make no apologies for that. Because anybody who is sitting in my chair who isn't mindful of the costs of war shouldn't be here, because it's serious business. These aren't video games that we're playing here.The most interesting part was how he addresses the politicization of the issue by the Republicans and has no problem defending the facts about current US - Israel relationship.
And one of the things that I like to remind them of is that every single commitment I have made to the state of Israel and its security, I have kept. I mean, part of your -- not to put words in your mouth -- but part of the underlying question is: Why is it that despite me never failing to support Israel on every single problem that they've had over the last three years, that there are still questions about that?m
GOLDBERG: That's a good way to phrase it.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: And my answer is: there is no good reason to doubt me on these issues.
Some of it has to do with the fact that in this country and in our media, this gets wrapped up with politics. And I don't think that's any secret. And if you have a set of political actors who want to see if they can drive a wedge not between the United States and Israel, but between Barack Obama and a Jewish American vote that has historically been very supportive of his candidacy, then it's good to try to fan doubts and raise questions.
2:41 PM PT: You can listen to discussion on Hardball right now!! BTW, interview with Goldberg has it's own nuance. I think the choice was strategic!Chris makes the point that this may be the "gamechanger" issue in 2012 election. This article/story has been all over the media sphere. AIPAC conference is going to be huge!