In the Obama White House, Echoes of Neville Chamberlain Loom

By now it should be readily apparent to all concerned parties that the United States, led by Barack Obama will not resort to the military option to thwart Iran’s nuclear ambitions nor will he employ economic sanctions. In dealing with the Islamic Republic there are essentially three options and Obama has foreclosed two of them.

Option one favors a trilateral approach involving diplomacy coupled with crippling sanctions and the credible threat of use of force should sanctions fail to persuade the mullahs to change course. This option enjoys bipartisan support in congress and is favored by many notable policy analysts.

Option two involves immediate military action to destroy Iran’s vast nuclear program. No one doubts that the United States either acting alone or in coordination with Israel can accomplish this task. Nonetheless, few but the most hawkish of hawks believe that this option represents responsible foreign policy.

On the opposite side of the spectrum is option three which involves classic appeasement in the spirit of Neville Chamberlain and it is this approach that is favored by the Obama administration. Thus far, the torturous P5 +1 negotiations with Iran have dragged on endlessly enduring at least two unwarranted extensions all while the Iranians feverishly pursue their nefarious ambitions.

Two notable and egregious Iranian violations during the interim period have lent credence to the notion that the Iranians are acting in bad faith. The first involves Iran’s heavy water plutonium facility at Arak where the Iranians were caught purchasing materials for the bomb-making plant, a clear violation of United Nations-imposed restrictions on such activity. In the second instance, the mullahs were caught feeding UF6 gas into the more advanced IR-5 centrifuges, an act clearly prohibited under the November Joint Plan of Action agreement. In both cases, the transgressions were smoothed over and the Iranians were given a mere slap on the wrist.

The lack of any meaningful US response to these serious breaches demonstrates with utmost clarity that the administration no longer seeks to prevent Iran from becoming a threshold nuclear power. The deal that appears to be emerging is one that allows Iran to retain its centrifuges and other critical infrastructure necessary for production and delivery of weapons of mass destruction.

The Iranians have handedly outmaneuvered the Obama administration, something that former secretary of state George P. Schultz warned would occur if the Obama administration adopted a lackadaisical approach to the negotiations. In an interview with the BBC, Schultz correctly noted that Iran is today’s premier state sponsor of world-wide terror and that the mullahs are good at “smiling, encouraging you on and then cutting your throat.” Unfortunately, Obama failed to heed the secretary’s advice and the world has become a much more dangerous place because of that.

For Israel, a nation accustomed to routine Iranian threats of annihilation, the prospect of nuclear weapons or infrastructure capable of developing such weapons in the hands of apocalyptic mullahs is a non-starter. Moreover, such a scenario would instantly spark a nuclear arms race in the Mideast turning an already volatile region into a powder keg. Egypt and Saudi Arabia would naturally feel compelled to arm themselves with similar weapons as a hedge against an increasingly imperialistic and aggressive Iran wishing to expand its hegemony and foment unrest well beyond its borders.

Europe would not be immune either. Iran has been feverishly developing and testing a new generation of increasingly sophisticated ballistic missiles. Indeed, an Israeli Eros B commercial satellite recently uncovered compelling evidence of a new Iranian intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of reaching Europe and beyond. Satellite imagery displayed a missile of some 27 meters in length on a launch pad. The missile, which had never before been seen in the West, is said to be capable of delivering conventional and unconventional payloads.

Aside from the United States, the nation most capable of delivering a decisive blow to Iran’s nuclear program is Israel. With its formidable air force, rated as the best in the world, advanced air refueling capabilities and potent land and sea-based surface-to-surface missile platforms, Israel is in a unique position to launch a successful and devastating strike on Iran’s nuclear infrastructure.

Aside from Israel, no other nation in the world has successfully carried out a strike on an enemy nuclear bomb-making facility. Ironically, Iran attempted to do so during the Iran-Iraq war and failed miserably. Israel has already successfully carried out two such operations. In 1981, its F-16 fighters destroyed Iraq’s French designed nuclear reactor known as Osirak situated near Baghdad. Israel was widely condemned for its actions at the time but over the years, many, including those initially critical of the Israeli operation, came to appreciate the prescient nature of Israel’s actions. And In 2007, in an action dubbed Operation Orchard, Israeli F-15s attacked and destroyed Syria’s Al Kibar nuclear complex reducing the facility into radioactive rubbish.

Should Obama conclude a deal with the Islamic Republic, one that leaves Iran’s nuclear infrastructure intact, Israel will have no choice but to initiate a military operation as it did in 1981 and 2007. In the past, the administration has perfidiously done its best to thwart Israeli military initiatives aimed at preserving regional stability. In 2012, the Obama administration inexplicably sought to sabotage a burgeoning strategic alliance between Israel and Azerbaijan and in 2013, administration officials heightened regional tensions by leaking information linking Israel to a series of strikes against Syria aimed at preventing the flow of arms to Hezbollah.

Notwithstanding Obama’s appeasement efforts, a deal with the Islamic Republic is not a foregone conclusion. The president must still overcome strong bipartisan congressional objections, a prospect which seems unlikely given the strong views of ranking members within his own Democratic party. However, as we’ve seen countless times, from his unauthorized release of al-Qaida operatives in Guantanamo to his irresponsible immigration and healthcare policies, Obama has developed a penchant for lying to the American public, flaunting the Constitution and circumventing congress.

Any deal which attempts to circumvent congress and allows the mullahs to retain their toys will almost certainly set off a constitutional crisis. It will also set into motion an inevitable conflagration that will make the world a lot less safe.

About the Author
Ari Lieberman is an attorney and former prosecutor. He has authored several articles covering political and military issues concerning Israel, the United States and the Mideast at large.