In his speech before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee on Sunday, President Obama reiterated his commitment to keeping all options on the table in order to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon—including diplomacy.
"I have said that when it comes to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, I will take no options off the table, and I mean what I say," said the President before thousands of activists congregated in the Mount Vernon Convention Center in Washington for AIPAC's annual conference.
But some experts question the wisdom of the President's remarks.
“It was simply irresponsible for President Obama to threaten to conduct diplomacy with Iran,” said Heritage Foundation analyst David Bryant. “As long as Obama rattles his olive branch at Iran, they'll never take his threats of military intervention seriously.”
Bryant's statement reflects the general outlook in the neoconservative community: threats of diplomacy are counterproductive because they make war less likely, not more so. Since these experts assess that the only solution to Iran's nuclear program is a military one, talk of possibly sitting down at a negotiating table and trying to come to a compromise like civilized human beings is a preposterous—and dangerous—notion.
“Look, if we talk to Iran, we may buy ourselves a few months, maybe a few years, before everyone remembers that Israel is holding 1.6 million people prisoner in Gaza and occupying lands in the West Bank,” said Noam Levy, spokesman for the Emergency Committee for Israel. “Then we'd have to acknowledge that Palestinians are human beings who have rights, and such a move would pose an existential threat to Israel as a Jewish state. But if we bomb Iran and make a little mess there, we'd probably be able to keep the heat off indefinitely.”
Maintaining Israeli hegemony in the region also requires abandoning the diplomatic option. “Consider a playground analogy. If you and another child both want to use the same swing, you don't try to come to an agreement to take turns with the kid. You beat the shit out of the bastard so he has to spend the rest of recess in the nurse's office, leaving you with the swing all to yourself.”
“It's like they say: use your fists, not your words.”
Howard Sherman, an analyst at the American Enterprise Institute, noted that the US has a strong history of regime change in Iran, and that such a course of action can only be successful if we don't talk to its leaders. “If we talk to Iran, we might realize that we can come to a negotiated agreement that addresses our concerns, thus obviating the need to resort to war. But regime change would be far more lucrative a venture for our elites. What's more, the US was able to overthrow Iran's democratically-elected Prime Minister in 1953 and maintain a model autocratic regime in its place for over twenty years. If we only tried again, I bet we could keep Iran in our grip for a good thirty, forty years at least.”
Overall, the sentiment is that President Obama lacks resolve in his policy toward Iran, according to presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich, who spoke before AIPAC earlier today. “Obama's insistence that diplomacy not be taken off the table demonstrates his lack of commitment to war with Iran.”
“I, on the other hand, promise to bomb Iran often and bomb it well should I assume the office of president.”
Gingrich was met with resounding applause from the audience.