Saturday, March 3, 2012

A line in the sand

President Obama made some big news during a 45-minute interview with The Atlantic:
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.

"I think that the Israeli government recognizes that, as president of the United States, I don't bluff." [Obama] 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."

In the interview, Obama stated specifically that "all options are on the table," and that the final option is the "military component."
Yowzer. Talk about a clear line drawn in the sand. This, friends, is how major league balance-of-power politics is played on the world stage. Obama isn't bluffing, nor would he hesitate to pull the trigger. And if it comes down to the "military component," I suspect our aim would be to take out the regime to end the threat once and for all.

So what's driving this? The US could surely contain a nuclear-armed Iran just as we did with the USSR. What scares Washington, however, is that Tehran would be positioned to hand its nukes to terrorists, or threaten to do so as a form of political blackmail. That, I think, is the "unacceptable" part of this equation as Obama sees it. The question now: Are the Iranian Mullahs smart enough to realize Obama is not bluffing?

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