Israeli officials are again complaining that public statements from top U.S. officials have not been sufficiently supportive of waging war on Iran and have played into the hands of the Ayatollahs.
This is not a first. Last month, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and other senior Israeli officials complained that U.S. officials speaking publicly about their reluctance to start a war with Iran ”served Iran’s interests.”
The consensus in the U.S. military and intelligence community is that Iran is not developing nuclear weapons and has demonstrated no intention of doing so. Given these assessments, and in the face of an increasingly hawkish Israel and a Congress vying for war, several high level U.S. officials have publicly warned against a preemptive military strike on Iran and have even stated that the U.S. wouldn’t back Israel if it decided to attack on its own.
“If the United States doesn’t broadcast determination all along the road, both in sanctions and in the threat of military action, Tehran is liable to mistakenly understand from this that 2012 is a lost year for the international community, so its nuclear program can advance as usual,” a senior Israeli official told Ha’aretz.
“At the moment,” the official continued, “largely because of the administration’s contradictory messages, the Iranians assume that nothing military will happen before the U.S. presidential elections in November. They believe the administration fears an attack because of the danger that gas prices will rise, and that Israel won’t move without a green light from Washington. Iran is under more pressure than before because of the sanctions, but absent a unified and determined front against it, it won’t change its mind about the nuclear issue.”
Of course, as best as anybody can tell, the Iranians have made up their mind about the nuclear issue. Namely, they have decided not to develop nuclear weapons, to allow inspections and 24 hour surveillance at all 15 of their declared enrichment sites, and to ask for peaceful negotiations and a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East. The latter suggestion is rejected outright by Israel, which may be the crux of the problem, as opposed to American reluctance to start another unnecessary war.