After years of observing the events of the Middle East and Israel, if there’s one lesson that’s made itself clear, it is that nothing ever happens quickly there. It always seems to be in slow motion.
The Israeli and Western threat of action against Iran has been no exception.
Ever since the overthrow of the Shah in 1979, the threat has always existed. Today, however, the threat has moved up several notches and it now seems to be a matter of not ‘if’ action will be taken against Iran but ‘when’. Today, therefore, timing is of the political essence.
As I have said repeatedly in the past, contrary to some commentator’s view that Israel may make a unilateral strike against Iran, the reality is that logistically Israel cannot possibly strike Iran without the full cooperation of the US.
President Obama is hesitant about openly supporting an attack against Iran during this an election year. He is aware that the American people will not support yet another ‘pre-emptive war’ in the Middle East; indeed, he became President on the back of a mandate that he would end the wars that Bush had started against Afghanistan and Iraq.
This has left Obama in a position where he has had to increasingly appear to be a peacemaker rather than a warmonger as the 2012 November polling date gets closer. He has had to tread a fine line between being accused by the pro-Israel lobby of abandoning Israel and of placating the Israeli right-wing by telling them that ‘nothing has been taken off the table’.
From the Israelis point of view, they too are in a precarious position despite wanting to let loose against Iran as soon as possible. As I’ve said, the Israelis can’t move without the support of the US.
On the one hand, the Israelis could wait until the election in November and hope that a more compliant Republican president gets voted in, but on the other hand, if it seems that Obama will hang on the Presidency, then the Israelis may choose to insist that they attack Iran before the election even if Obama privately councils them not to. In that case, Obama, who has always said he will support Israel no matter what, will have little choice but to accept the fait accompli of war and go to war with Israel against Iran after Israel has fired the opening rounds against Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Whatever happens, it would be absolutely crucial for Obama to make it appear that the US is a reluctant partner in its war against Iran if he is to stand any chance of re-election. But that is all it is about – appearances. Despite Obama’s apparent reluctance to go to war, everything militarily is now in place for just that.
When push comes to shove, the US will be there with the Israelis once Israel has made the opening move. The US will launch an all-out devastating bombing war against Iran designed to bring about regime change while at the same time Israel will launch an equally devastating attack against Hezbollah and Hamas with the aim of fully occupying south Lebanon, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank and destroying their enemies once and for all.
It’s not a matter of ‘if’ anymore; it’s now just a matter of ‘when’.