The immediate threat of war against Iran appears to have lifted for the presidential election season, after months of pressure from Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, Mitt Romney and many US neo-conservatives. In his speech to the United Nations General Assembly last week, Netanyahu pushed back his "red line" to next spring or summer.
What agreements, if any, were reached between Netanyahu and President Obama in their private one-hour phone call remain to be seen. But Netanyahu's "softened tone" was seen as reflecting Obama's expanding lead in the polls over Netanyahu's former business partner Mitt Romney.
The efforts of Romney, multi-billionaire Sheldon Adelson and neo-conservative hawks to manipulate the election climate with talk of war have failed for the time, although hawkish commercials against Obama still are continuing in Jewish communities in Florida.
Significant credit for Netanyahu's new tone must go to J Street and progressive voices in the Jewish community, where Obama's support remains around 70 percent to Romney's 25. Obama received 78 percent of the Jewish vote in 2008.
The danger is far from past. The alternative of a containment policy towards Iran remains, as they say, “off the table,” despite the fact that a Foreign Affairs cover story recently was headlined “Why Iran Should Have the Bomb.” Brinksmanship will continue after November, and Hillary Clinton’s 2008 proposal for a NATO-like nuclear shield over America’s Mid-east allies remains alive and growing.
In addition to apparently assisting Israel with cyber-attacks on Iranian computer sites, the US – “mostly behind the scenes” – is funding and promoting command, control and early-warning communications systems for interceptors whose triggers would be in the hands of multiple nations. Advanced Pentagon missile defense systems already are installed in the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, with plans for 60 more Patriot missiles and launching platforms for Kuwait, on top of the 350 already there. Minimum taxpayer cost for these new behind-the-scenes installations: $24 billion. (New York Times, August 8, 2012)
The system will be in place when and if an Israeli war against Iran begins.