US President Barack Obama says Israel’s call for drawing red line over Iran’s nuclear energy program is just “noise” he tries to ignore.
Moreover, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on September 10 that Washington is “not setting deadlines” for a diplomatic resolution of the dispute over Iran’s nuclear energy program.
However, in an exclusive interview with Press TV, Robert Naiman, policy director with Just Foreign Policy, tells us that the Obama administration has already set a red line over Iran’s nuclear energy program. The following is a rough transcription of the interview.
The drums of war have been beating from Israel over an apparently imminent attack on Iran. There’s no doubt that if Romney was in the White House he’d give the go ahead. Do you see this as a real threat which President Obama may even be trying to hold back?
I’m certain that President Obama does not want a war with Iran now, neither initiated by the United States, nor by Israel. I’m moreover certain that the overwhelming consensus of the Pentagon and the mainstream of the national security…in the United States is that war with Iran is an incredibly stupid, destructive idea.
We saw powerful evidence of that in the last week. There was a bipartisan report of foreign policy eminences called the Iran project. This was top officials, military and political, from past Democratic and Republican administrations, published this report saying what would be the likely consequences of a war with Iran?
They said, at best, the US attacks on Iran -- never mind an Israeli attack which Israel’s military capacity is much lower than the United States. The US attack on Iran, at best would set back Iran’s nuclear program for four years and it would likely provoke a major war in the region and would likely accelerate forces in Iran that want to push for having a nuclear weapon.
It was a very, very damning critique of this idea with impeccable establishment credentials. That that’s what the cool hands in Washington think about this idea.
I’m not thinking about neo-conservatives, that’s another thing. The neo-conservatives around Romney and the Netanyahu boosters, that’s something else.
They love the idea of war with Iran, and they love the idea of using the threat as a way to get attention on them and push for more demands for more stringent sanctions on Iran.
No serious foreign policy analyst in the United States thinks it’s a good idea. No serious member of the foreign policy establishment thinks this is a good idea.
I suspect that the real story is that one has got the Likud so, their knickers in a twist, I think you say. What they’re really afraid of is that the Obama administration is moving towards the policy of, if they don’t say it, containment of Iran “with a nuclear weapon capability;” not that Iran will acquire a bomb but that everybody will understand that Iran is close enough that if they were attacked, they could respond to the attack by pushing for a nuclear weapon.
The Obama administration has put down a red line. They’ve put down a red line saying that we will not let Iran get a nuclear weapon; we’re prepared to use military force to stop that.
That sounds tough and it is, and I don’t necessarily endorse it, but there’s the flip side to that which is that if you’re going to use military threat as a deterrent to Iran from getting a nuclear bomb, there’s kind of an implicit semi-guarantee underneath that which is that if you don’t go for a nuclear bomb then we won’t attack you because, obviously, if I’m going to attack you no matter then my threat is meaningless.
If I want my threat to be meaningful to deter something that I want, then I have to save it for the thing that I really don’t want.
This is what the Israelis are afraid of, that the US is accommodating themselves to the status quo, accommodating themselves to the idea that we’re never going to have a war with Iran, which means that the Israeli deterrence against Iran, from their point of view, the Likud’s point of view, will be diminished.
The next time the people in Likud want to invade Lebanon or invade Gaza, maybe they would have to think twice about doing that because maybe Iran would help Hezbollah more than they did in 2006 because they are not afraid of Israeli retaliation.
This is the logic of the neo-conservatives and the Likud because they can’t tolerate that there be parity in the region between Israel and Iran because that would be a deterrent against Israeli military adventures. I think this is the real story.
The fact of the matter is that the people in the Obama administration, this is not something to be afraid of. They don’t particularly feel the need to go to the wall for the ability of Israel to invade Lebanon or the ability of Israel to invade Gaza. I think that’s the real story underneath the hype.
The good news is that if you look at the poll analysis and all the bad stuff attached to Romney now with his fundraiser video, his comments about the events in Libya, Mr. Obama is the favorite to win. Iran fear-mongering doesn’t seem to be working to try and change the debate in the United States.
The betting money suggests that a couple of months from now Barack Obama is still going to be president of the United States and the neo-conservatives are going to be out in the cold.