Slowly but surely the Iran crisis is moving up the agenda. This is no accident. Why? Because Israel, or to be more precise Netanyahu, and the Republican party are in the process of manipulating Obama into a lose-lose situation over Iran in this crucial election year.
Netanyahu believes he has much to gain from a Republican president and much to lose if Obama is returned for a second term. One of the reasons why Republican presidential candidates’ campaign war chests are now groaning with cash donated by AIPAC supporters. (One of Newt, ‘Palestinians are an invented people’, Gingrich’s main backers is Sheldon Adelson, a strong Netanyahu supporter.)
So what’s the score? Well, the US has yet to fully implement the Iran sanctions called for in the recent Senate resolution. Also the White House achieved a waiver from Congress which would allow intervention if the policy was seen to endanger the recovery or result in a rise in the oil price. If Obama invokes such a waiver, Netanyahu hardliners and Republican hawks will scream ‘foul’. (Remember that Iran sanctions have been top of Netanyahu’s agenda for the entire length of this Congress.) Not only that, the wrath of AIPAC supporters will descend on Obama and the Democrats and campaign contributions will evaporate.
The other alternative is that Obama will implement the oil sanctions, spurred on by the EU’s example, and oil prices will rise, this time incurring the wrath of the American public who will feel less inclined to vote for Obama. Either way Obama and the Democrats look as though they are stuffed, but are they?
There is an alternative. Obama could start talking to the Iranians. (Hopefully he could find a way round the ‘Iran Threat Reductions Act’ which bars US officials from even speaking to the Iranians) What has he to offer? How about a nuclear free Middle East? Could he sell that to the Israeli’s? Could he get Israel to give up its nuclear weapons? Sounds impossible, but maybe it’s not such a wacky idea. Apparently 68% of Israelis would be happy for the Middle East to be a nuclear free zone. Time to get one over on Netanyahu, his AIPAC cohorts and the Republicans? Is Obama brave enough? Such an initiative could put Israel in its place and restore US credibility in the Middle East – if it was to be successful. Is Obama brave enough? I wonder.