A Green Light for Israel

GUEST EDITORIAL

(Editorial of The New York Sun – nysun.com • March 6, 2012)

 

Prime Minister Netanyahu’s summit meeting with President Obama turned out to have quite a satisfactory outcome, as far as we’re concerned, in that, at least from what one can deduce from the public record, Israel has gained a green light to do what it wants in respect of Iran. It is true Mr. Obama offered cautionary words about loose talk of war and expressed his preference for a diplomatic solution. But in his interview with Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic, the president made a point of declaring that he tries constantly to reinforce the assumption that “we’ve got Israel’s back.” He reiterated the point to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. What else can that mean in plain language other than that America will cover Israel’s back come the battle?

We’re well aware that our view of this whole debate is at odds with received wisdom. We don’t share the preference for a diplomatic solution. We’ve sometimes quipped that the Sun’s policy is “diplomacy as a last resort.” We don’t mean that we prefer war to peace. We do mean that a long newspaper life has taught us that the frequent restatement of a preference for a diplomatic solution provides an incentive for our adversaries to weave and dodge and string things out. In the case of Iran, it has gone on for something like a generation. The same can be said in respect of the Palestinian Arabs. What possible incentive could our adversaries have to settle if our preferred process is diplomacy?

The sad truth is that diplomacy is an invitation to appeasement. It is one of the things that becomes ever more clear in retrospect of Munich. Was it merely the pact signed in 1938 that was the error? Surely it was an error. But the real error was going to Munich in the first place. The talks were the appeasement. It would be a mistake to draw too much of a comparison between what is happening in the Middle East today and Munich. But it would not be a mistake to warn that diplomacy has its own dangers. It is hard to imagine a diplomatic settlement to the Iranian crisis that does not leave in place, even legitimize a regime that is anti-democratic and hostile not only to Israel but to America.

The overlap, the unity of the national interests of America and Israel was also well put by both Messrs. Netanyahu and Obama, at least in the public record. Hearing it no doubt it drives the European elites and the anti-Israel factions here a bit crazy. The Financial Times even ran out a piece on the summit by Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, who characterized the Israeli premier as Mr. Obama’s “least favorite foreign leader.” Said the FT in its headline: “Mr. Obama must take a stand against Israel over Iran.” Their advice seems to have slid right past Mr. Obama.

Does the fact that the public record of this summit makes it clear that Israel has a green light to use its judgment mean that an attack on Iran is inevitable? We’d figure the answer is no — or up to Iran. It does make it logical for the season of threats and warnings to come to an end. No doubt Iran’s nuclear program poses a great deal more difficult a military problem than Iraq’s did a generation and a half ago. But one feature is similar. It is the notion that should war come, the best way would be out of the blue, the way it did when Menachem Begin sent American-built warplanes into the skies over Iraq and destroyed the nuclear plant at Osirak, and the sun stood still over Gibeon. One morning Iraq had a nuclear program and the next it didn’t, and the debate became something for academic historians.

  • Ad Boxes on the Bottom of the Homepage
  • Ad Boxes on the Bottom of the Homepage
  • Ad Boxes on the Bottom of the Homepage
  • Ad Boxes on the Bottom of the Homepage
  • Ad Boxes on the Bottom of the Homepage