Bombs bursting in air
The United States’ military support of Israel is necessary, given the impending threats from Iran
Last Thursday at the United Nations General Assembly, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu again expressed his concerns about an Iran in possession of a nuclear weapon. He urged the assembly to take a definitive stance against Iran’s growing nuclear program, to draw a “clear red line” over which Iran cannot step. This is not the first time Netanyahu has voiced such sentiments, and it is unlikely to be the last. And yet, or so it seems to me, the global community is taking his words less and less seriously, even as his message becomes more and more urgent.
According to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, President Obama has spent more time in discussion with Netanyahu than with any other leader. But for all of this time spent in discussion with Netanyahu, the Obama administration has yet to put forth a clear plan for dealing with the growth of Iran’s nuclear program. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Iran has made its intentions exceedingly clear. In 2010, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said: “Sanctions cannot stop the Iranian nation. The Iranian nation is able to withstand the pressure of the United States and its allies.” He went on to say that “while we do not welcome sanctions, we do not fear them either.”
How has President Obama responded? He has done little more than continue to hope that sanctions will stop Iran’s nuclear ambitions. On “60 Minutes,” President Obama stated that when it comes to his decisions on national security the only pressure he feels is the pressure “to do what’s right for the American people” — he said he will block any other “noise” that is out there. He went on to say that he feels “obligated” to stay in touch with Israel over the Iranian issue, but I think his feelings on the matter are quite clear. Netanyahu’s frequent warnings and his insistence that the U.S. take a clear stand have been little more than background noise for our president.
So where does that leave Israel? It is looking at Iran as a nation that believes that Israel “must be wiped out from the map of the world.” These are the sentiments of Iran’s religious leader, Ayatollah Khomeini, later echoed by Ahmadinejad. Iran is a theocracy, governed by religious, rather than diplomatic, motivations — and it is looking forward, according to Ahmadinejad, to “a world without the United States and Zionism.” If they obtain nuclear weapons, are they likely to be constrained by the same international ties that hold so many nations in a relative peace? I doubt it. Iran has expressed its disdain for the U.N., and its desire for an end to Israel. It logically follows that there are few checks, other than Israel’s own military intervention, to prevent an attack on Israeli soil. Netanyahu’s “noise” sounds quite warranted given the circumstances.
It is high time the United States got on board with Israel. The United States needs to openly express its willingness to support Israeli military action against Iran’s nuclear program, and furthermore, its willingness to align itself ideologically and militarily with Israel should push come to shove. I am not calling for immediate war on Iran — this is the very situation I am sure all parties wish to avoid. But the Obama administration’s current approach is getting the situation nowhere. President Obama’s recent demand that Iran give up plans to obtain nuclear weapons was openly scoffed at by Ahmadinejad. “It does not impact our policies in the slightest,” he said.
The U.N.’s approach holds no menace for Iran either. The U.N. is a good idea, but it has rarely played much more of a role than that. Its consistent unwillingness to become militarily involved — or even to threaten military action — has given it a weak reputation among aggressive nations like Iran. And as long as China and Russia — close commercial allies with Iran — sit on the Security Council, weakening the already ineffective sanctions, the U.N.’s role in Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons will be a largely useless one.
“The sanctions have hurt the Iranian economy, but they haven’t stopped the Iranian nuclear program,” said Netanyahu. “That’s a fact.” And as long as those in power in Iran laugh off the sanctions and the condemnation of their activities, it is unlikely the situation will change for the better. President Obama needs to do the job he was elected for and make the United States’ position strong and exceedingly clear. Until a military line is drawn, the U.S. and the U.N. will be just as much “noise” to Iran as Netanyahu has been to our own president.
Sam Novack’s column appears Tuesdays in The Cavalier Daily. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.