Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday said the United States has no moral right to object to an Israeli military strike on Iran because it has failed to threaten Iran with war for a nuclear weapons program that doesn’t exist.
Netanyahu’s statement seems to be not just a strategic quibble with the Obama administration, but a moral condemnation, at a time when the administration’s argument for holding off a preventive war seems to have won out.
“Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don’t have a moral right to place a red light before Israel,” Netanyahu said.
The Obama administration has resisted pressure from Netanyahu and his cabinet to launch a war against Iran, arguing continued negotiations and harsh economic sanctions are the more effective way forward. Recent comments from the top US military official Gen. Martin Dempsey that America would not be “complicit” in an Israeli strike, as well as reports that Obama made the same comments in a secret letter to Iran, seemed to force the Israelis to tone down their war rhetoric.
The truth is, top military analysts in both the US and Israel agree that Israel doesn’t have the capability to wipe out Iran’s nuclear program, which intelligence has concluded is not being weaponized, on its own. So now that the US has expressed firmly that it won’t back an Israeli first strike, even many in Netanyahu’s cabinet have given in.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reiterated this week that it would not set deadlines for Iran, and that a military build-up in the region, coupled with sanctions and extensive talks are the way to go.
But Netanyahu is still whining publicly about the Obama administration’s opposition to a discretionary war on Iran. “The world tells Israel ‘wait, there’s still time’. And I say, ‘Wait for what? Wait until when?'” he added.
As far as having moral authority to oppose an Israeli strike, Netanyahu is no one to talk. Even his highest officials admit that Iran has not made the decision to build nuclear weapons and that even if it had nuclear weapons it wouldn’t commit national suicide by using them on Israel. Thus, there is no imminent threat and no moral or legal case for preemption.