Tony Karon at Time Magazine says there will be no attack on Iran this fall, in large measure because the Israeli military establishment said it was a crazy idea. But count on Jeffrey Goldberg to come back around in the spring and warn that Israel faces an existential threat.
Netanyahu appears to be holding out for a declaration of U.S. red lines. The New York Times reports that the Obama administration is currently debating options to placate the Israelis, even if by rhetorically repackaging a number of existing plans for military exercises and tighter sanctions. The Israeli prime minister plans to attend the U.N. General Assembly session in New York later this month, where he is expected to meet with President Obama on the sidelines.
The Israeli prime minister’s supporters will paint whatever statements and gestures emerge from the White House as a victory for his strategy of relentless saber-rattling. Netanyahu’s problem, though, is that Obama’s red line — preventing the Iranians from acquiring a nuclear weapon — is not the same as the Israeli red line, which insists that Iran can’t be allowed to maintain the nuclear infrastructure that it already has…
Many analysts have long suspected that Iran’s goal is not to build a nuclear weapon at this stage, but to achieve the sort of breakout capacity enjoyed by countries such as Japan, which remains within the terms of the Non Proliferation Treaty but has put nuclear weapons within easy reach should the government deem it necessary for reasons of national security to build them. That’s an outcome the Israelis strenuously reject, and Western powers won’t easily accept while Iran remains non-compliant with its NPT obligations. If Tehran was willing to cooperate with the IAEA and accept enhanced guarantees against weaponization, however, the Western consensus may begin to shift.
For now, the U.S. looks likely to persuade Israel to sit on its hands while sanctions and other pressures on Iran mount. Indications thus far, however, are that even if those measures succeed in pressing Iran to compromise, such compromise as are offered are unlikely to involve the capitulation on the issue of uranium enrichment that the Israelis demand. So, even if a war before November is looking increasingly unlikely, it’s probably a safe bet that war talk will be revved up again come spring.
Karon says that we can expect the Israelis to declare victory before they step back. And look, right on time, this from antiwar:
After being briefed by top US military officials, the two top Israeli leaders that have been pushing for war on Iran suggested Obama’s hardline postures and militarism in the Middle East may have eliminated the need for a preemptive Israeli strike on Iran.