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Friday, December 27, 2013


If only it were.

If it were just up to Obama there would be no war until he decides there will be. But he’s just the President and, while he wields a lot of clout, at the end of the day he has a Congress to answer to.

If Obama put his foot down and said ‘no’ to Netanyahu launching a strike against Iran then Netanyahu wouldn’t do it. While there’s been a lot of talk of Netanyahu launching a unilateral strike against Iran, there is no way that he would do such thing without knowing that the US would come to Israel’s aid if Iran decided to retaliate – which it almost certainly would.

Obama has made it clear that he wants to give diplomacy every chance before taking any other action – let alone resorting to the military option. Netanyahu, however, has other ideas. He has told the world that, because Israel was not involved in the talks with Iran, Israel is not obligated by the terms of any agreement the P5+1 made with Iran. Furthermore, Netanyahu has also made it quite clear that Israel retains the right to launch a pre-emptive unilateral strike against Iran at any time Israel feels threatened or believes that Iran has crossed a ‘red line’.

Netanyahu’s problem was that he knows he can’t launch a pre-emptive ‘unilateral’ attack against Iran without US support and, without support from President Obama, war might be impossible.

Netanyahu, not to be thwarted by an obstinate US President, believes he has found another way to circumvent Obama’s no war policy by using the powerful combined forces of the American Israel lobby groups to garner support from the US Congress.

To this end a bipartisan group of Israeli supporters in the Senate have banded together to introduce a bill that will ostensibly create even more sanctions against Iran despite the P5+1 agreement with Iran specifically excluding further sanctions for the duration of the agreement. However, barely hidden in the proposed bill is a clause that states:

 …if the Government of Israel is compelled to take military action in legitimate self-defense against Iran’s nuclear weapon program, the United States Government should stand with Israel and provide, in accordance with the law of the United States and the constitutional responsibility of Congress to authorize the use of military force, diplomatic, military, and economic support to the Government of Israel in its defense of its territory, people, and existence…

If this bill is passed in its entirety through Congress, it clearly most effectively gives Netanyahu the power to commit the US to war against Iran by simple virtue of Israel launching such an attack.

Obama has already strongly indicated that, if the bill is passed through Congress, he would veto it. But the President’s veto power is not limitless; if the bill flows through Congress with a two-thirds majority in the Senate and the House of Representatives then the President’s veto power may be over-ruled. (See here for the rules regarding presidential veto.) It would be up to Obama to use all of his Presidential influence to defeat the bill.

One can be sure that the Israel lobby will be using every ounce of its influence to ensure that, not only does the bill get through, but gets through with a big enough majority to prevent a presidential veto.

Much will depend on how this bill progresses through Congress - especially the future of the Middle East.

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