Jimmy Carter tried to rescue the hostages in 1979 and he thought based on what he was told by Brzezinski prior to the revolution that the correct course of action was to stand by the Shah till the bitter end. In retrospect we realize from William Sullivan that the better course would have been to ally with moderates in the revolution as the Shah was toast and guide the revolution to a more moderate course. Instead by siding with the Shah till the bitter end, the worst in the revolution came to the fore. I would assert that Carter at least did what he thought was right and he was somewhat activist, though misled by a horrible National Security Advisor, who shockingly still dares to open his mouth with garbage from time to time including anti-Semitic rants against Israel. But again at least Carter was pained in his heart over the Revolution, over the hostage taking, and he did attempt a rescue.
Now we have Obama, who despite his campaigning to the contrary, has been no friend of Israel and seems to forget the historic relationship that has predicated the Iranian-American relationship since the Revolution. I knew that Obama was anti-Israeli before the election, it was pretty clear that he was part of the wing of his party that sympathizes with the Palestinians over the Israelis. I am not going to comment on that mess which I think is pretty unfortunate and seems to never get better. I am more concerned with the situation outside of the Israeli direct territorial sphere. I am more concerned with the make up of the Middle East as a whole and what this means for Israel and the United States.
There is no friend of the United States in the Middle East other than Israel. Nations like Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kuwait are friends of convince. They are friends of the United States because they allow us to station troops in their nations, sell the United States oil, and rely on the United States for their defense. Should the US cease to be essential for their own defense and economic interest, these nations would drop their relationships with the United States faster than you drop a bad blind date. Israel on the other hand is a true friend to the United States. You could assert that there is a religious basis for this, and to some extent in this regard you would be right. The US is a mostly Christian nation and of course Christian Americans feel a much greater kinship with the Jews than they do with the Muslims. But I think it is more than that. It is also a sort of cousin relationship much as we see with Britain. Many or even most Israelis are also Americans. Depending on who you ask there are more Jews in the United States than there are in Israel itself. I doubt you can find an Israeli who doesn't have a friend or relative in the United States, and more likely dozens. Non-Jewish Americans are permitted free entry into Israel in a way not permitted of the nationals of other nations. The current Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, was raised in Pennsylvania and educated at Harvard and MIT. Israel has also fought wars to suppress Islamic extremism or Arab Nationalism that likely prevented the United States from "mixing it up" in the Middle East at certain points in our history.
Now we have a great threat to the Middle East, to Israel, and to the United States. And what is Obama's reaction? To talk to tyrants who do not give a damn what he has to say and will continue with their sinister designs no matter what sanctions or harsh rhetoric that Obama throws around. Some Americans do not understand that the ARAB nations of the Middle East also view PERSIAN Iran as a great threat. To allow Iran to become a nuclear state would allow Iran to effectively dominate the Middle East as the region's only nuclear armed state other than Israel. Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the emirates are all against Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons and would support any action to stop that outcome. But now according the Undersecretary of Defense for Military Policy, we are taking military action off the table? Are we trying to sound the all clear for Iran?
I assure you the situation would have been different with John McCain. I am not a huge McCain fan, I do believe health care reform was necessary, if unpalatable, which would certainly not have occurred under McCain. I also question whether McCain had the personality and charisma necessary to be President. But I can assure you that McCain would have launched a strike on Iran already. Iran would have been neutralized and the issue would be over. But that was not the outcome, instead we chose to elect a President who I believe in his heart of hearts is a pacifist. Sure he fought Afghanistan, but I think he felt he had no choice as that conflict was already ongoing and given that was the heart of Al Qaeda, surrender would not be acceptable. But a new conflict, even if vital to the interests of the US and her allies... NO WAY.
Now the Israelis have a choice. They have the option of going it alone. I believe they will do so. How Israel goes about this is an open question. Can Bibi call Obama and say my squadrons are approaching Iraq, stand down unless you want to shoot my aircraft down? That would be pretty extreme, but Obama would likely have no choice other than to allow the Israelis to pass in that case. More likely though is some alternative route through Saudi Arabia and over the Gulf to Iran. The Saudis, it has been reported, have given Israel overflight permission for such a mission. I think is Israel will ultimately go this route. The only thing that is stoping Israel at the moment is hope that Obama will join in. I do not believe for a second that Israel is truely onboard with sanctions. Israel knows full well, as any fool other than Obama can see, that sanctions are not working and in fact will not ever work against Iran. The only thing Israel is hoping for at this point is that the United States quickly comes to this reality as well. But if Israel see that Obama will never move militarily on Iran, they will strike themselves.
The sad thing is that an Israeli strike on Iran without US involvement will not do a very good job. Iran is at the very outside of Israel's strike capabilities. Israel likely can only strike a few hundred targets in Iran on a first strike, likely insufficient to cause a great deal of damage to Iran's military infrastructure. Iran will be left able to respond and cause a mess for Israel, the US, and the Arab states in the Gulf. Contrast this with a US strike with bombers from Montana, Diego Garcia, carriers in the Gulf and the Indian Ocean, and air force resources from Afghanistan, Central Asia, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and even Europe. A US first strike could involve thousands of targets and a US "first strike" doesn't really have to be a first strike at all. Israel's strikes would likely be separated in time, as their jets have to pull back, refuel, and strike again sometime later. The US however has the ability to strike non-stop, 24 hrs a day, with no interruption. We could have the US destroy Iran's military infrastructure, leaving it powerless to strike back, take out all the nuclear sites with bunker busters, solve this global problem. But no... Obama is not going to do the right thing as he does not believe that military force can be a solution. The Israelis will surely not agree and thus will undertake a weaker and perhaps insufficient strike to the task.
Disclosure: No Positions