It is good to have President Obama as our guest. One gets the sense that after four years of being mugged by Mideastern realities, he is treading carefully in what he has come to recognize as being a very dangerous neighborhood. We welcome him with open hearts.
The Jerusalem poet Paul Raboff has an ear for the inner message of words, so here is a question he sprung on me at the corner grocery store in Ein Kerem last Friday: How do we interpret President Obama’s use of the statement “prevent Iran from acquiring the bomb?” Is this rhetoric intended to serve as a fig leaf? Does it mean no more than preventing the mullahs from assembling a bomb – after everything else is in place? Is it crafted to prepare everyone, including Israel, for containment i.e. letting Iran have the bomb?
And here is my troubled answer. I suggest the hypothesis that the subtext of Mr. Obama’s meticulously careful choice of words about preventing Iran from “acquiring” the bomb is that he has no intention whatsoever to do whatever is necessary to stop Iran from acquiring the capacity to make the bomb. Such wording would appear to give President Obama the out to pursue a policy of containment concealed by the fig leaf of the rhetoric of prevention. In short, the careful ambiguity is meant to deceive.
When I put this idea forward to Paul, he shot back an email: “Take rhetoric and wring its neck” citing Rimbaud, the French poet.
The consequence of such rhetoric about “preventing Iran from acquiring the bomb” is that it narrows the window of time for action to prevent Iran from making a bomb to dangerously low intervals – unless of course, containment, not prevention, is the story here – as part of some Chamberlainesque “Grand Bargain.” We can ask whether surveillance and monitoring have the degree of precision required to stop “acquiring the Bomb” once Iran has overcome all hurdles to making the Bomb. The margin of error becomes ever more short. Given the ever more unapologetic posture of appeasement and isolationism now projected by the Administration, the burden of proof is on those who say otherwise.
A hypothesis, every student of science knows, is a statement which can be refuted. Mr President: Do what has to be done to refute this hypothesis.
We add: that once Iran acquires the Bomb, It will be using the Bomb everyday – to threaten, blackmail, bludgeon, intimidate and extort – as North Korea does with ever more impunity. In short, the world will be a much more dangerous place.
And Israel, by calling upon President Obama to do whatever it takes to prevent Iran from acquiring the Bomb, will be protecting the entire Free World, not just itself, just as Churchill’s Great Britain did when it fought the Battle of Britain.