Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Israel, Iran's Nukes, and Lots of Help from the Obama Administration

So, VP Joe Biden says it's okay for Israel to bomb Iran's nuclear facilities. "We cannot dictate to another sovereign nation what they can and cannot do when they make a determination, if they make a determination, that they're existentially threatened," Biden said in an interview on ABC's "The Week" on Monday the 6th.

Joe might want to check back with his boss. Here's Obama, when asked one day later if his administration had given a "green light" for such an attack: "Absolutely not." The problem of Iranian nukes would be resolved, he said, through diplomatic channels.

Joe Biden is in the right of it. Israel is a sovereign nation and old enough to make its own decisions. Biden didn't really give them the "green light;" he acknowledged that they could do what they darn well pleased. Obama, on the other hand, says that the problem must be resolved through diplomatic channels. Iran, even under Ahmadinejad, isn't stupid enough to challenge the U.S. directly by bombing U.S. interests in Iraq or Afghanistan. If, God forbid, they do get the bomb--which Mossad chief Meir Dagan said might happen by 2014--then they may well attempt to wipe Israel off the map.

In other words, this doesn't affect the U.S. directly except insofar as it changes the political balance in the Middle East. I hope Israel won't do anything rash that might lead to a larger Middle-Eastern war, but here's the clincher: Iran stands virtually alone. The rest of the Muslim East is separated from them by ethnic, linguistic, and cultural barriers. Even ultra-conservative, ultra-Muslim Saudi Arabia has, after negotiations, reportedly allowed Israeli jets to fly over Saudi airspace in an attack on Iran. Even the Saudis don't want a nuclear Iran, and see what needs to be done. Why doesn't Obama?

This is all assuming that Khamenei's theocracy in Iran triumphs in Iran, and that his puppet Ahmadinejad isn't forced to give in. This may or may not happen. The shooting death of protester Neda Salehi Agha Soltan, caught on video and apparently perpetrated by Iranian security forces, has become iconic in the same way as the grainy footage of the lone protester in front of the tanks in Tiananmen Square. A prominent group of Iranian Shi'ite clerics in the city of Qom have called the election invalid. We don't know what the future holds, but if Mousavi triumphs the whole question of attacking Iran might become moot. We can only hope.