Such public displays have been incredibly common in recent years, but US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Martin Dempsey’s emergency visit to Israel last week may well have had a sense of genuine urgency not often seen.
That’s because increasingly, the long-standing Israeli threats to attack Iran are being taken as a distinct and imminent possibility. Sanctions and announcements related to impending embargoes by the international community seem aimed more at placating Israel and convincing them to hold off on the attack.
Unsurprisingly, the Israeli government is eagerly playing on this fear. Defense Minister Ehud Barak once again today declared that the world “must act” against Iran soon, warning that Iran might soon reach a point where “even a military strike could not block it.”
That Iran isn’t working on a nuclear weapon is, of course, entirely beside the point. But perhaps less so is that a number of officials have already opined that it is already “too late” and that a military attack would do little long term damage to Iran’s civilian nuclear program, at best setting it back a few months.
The lack of a concrete threat from Iran and the futility of an attack have long combined to keep war at bay, but increasingly hostile rhetoric seems to be weakening the resistance to a unilateral strike by Israel, apparently on the assumption that Israel could start the war then stand back while the international community deals with the consequences.