Jeffrey Goldberg has a fascinating item about an interview Rep. Mike Rogers, the head of the House Intelligence Committee, gave in which he described a hellacious confrontation between Israeli PM Netanyahu and the US ambassador. Excerpt from Goldberg’s piece:
Rogers said Israeli frustration grows from what they see — and he sees — as a refusal by the Obama Administration to outline an endgame: “(I)t was very clear the overarching policy has been frustrating mainly because I think it’s not very clear. What we walked out of that meeting knowing is that the Administration was trying to defend itself.” By the end, he said, there was a “sharp exchange between the Administration’s representative there, our ambassador there, and Mr. Netanyahu, which was unusual to say the least, but I thought at the end of the day maybe productive.”
Beckmann then asked: “Is it inaccurate to say it was a shouting match?” Rogers answered: “I can say that there were elevated concerns on behalf of the Israelis.” When asked if he had “ever seen that sort of thing before,” Rogers answered: “No not that directly. We’ve had sharp exchanges with other heads of state and in intelligence services and other things, but nothing at that level that I’ve seen in all my time where people were clearly that agitated, clearly that worked up about a particular issue where there was a very sharp exchange.”
Rogers went on to describe what he understands to be the Israeli frustration, and, apparently, his frustration, with the impact of sanctions: “Here’s the problem. ….I support the sanctions. But if you’re going to have a hammer you have to have an anvil. You have to have at least a credible threat of a military option. So it’s having an effect, yes, it’s having an effect on the Iranian economy. It is not impacting their race on enrichment and other things, and that’s very very clear.” He went on, “I think the Israeli position is, ‘Hey, listen, you’ve got to tell us — I mean, if you want us to wait’ – and that’s what this Administration’s been saying, you’ve gotta wait, you’ve gotta wait, you’ve gotta wai — got that — ‘but then you’ve gotta tell us when is the red line so we can make our own decisions about should we or shouldn’t we stop this particular program.”
Me, I can see both sides on this. I don’t think the Administration has an endgame, because they know perfectly well that we cannot afford to fight a war with Iran, and that sanctions aren’t working. If there is no credible military threat to the Iranians, why shouldn’t they carry on with their plans to build a nuclear weapon? The Israelis have a valid point. The problem is there’s no good solution here: there is no stopping Iran absent an act of war, but an act of war against Iran is a price higher than the US can afford to pay.
One point should be clear from all this: a vote for Barack Obama is a vote for a greater likelihood that Iran will develop nuclear weapons, setting off a nuclear arms race in the world’s most volatile region; a vote for Mitt Romney is a vote for a greater likelihood that the US will launch another Mideast war.
Both are catastrophic outcomes — but which one is worse? I say another US war. If I were Israeli, my views would be completely the opposite.