Robert Merry ponders the rift between Obama and Netanyahu over Iran:
For years [Netanyahu] has sought to nudge events in the direction of such a war. And now he is seeking to undermine Obama’s efforts to nudge events away from such a war. That’s why he puts forth such a negotiating position—no enrichment of any kind. Netanyahu believes, based on past experience, that he can set in motion pressures and forces within the American polity that will ensure the demise of Obama’s delicate reach-out to Iran. And he is willing to risk a rupture with this administration in order to do so because he doesn’t think the risk is very great.
Merry may be right that Netanyahu thinks the risk of a rupture with the U.S. isn’t that great, but Netanyahu is probably miscalculating if he thinks that Obama will yield as easily on this as he did in the past over the issue of settlements. There are a few reasons to believe that the administration will press ahead with negotiations despite Israeli and Congressional complaints. First, even an interim nuclear deal with Iran would represent a major diplomatic success for Obama’s presidency, and it could pave the way for a more comprehensive agreement that resolves the nuclear issue with Iran for the foreseeable future. A second-term president interested in securing his “legacy” won’t want to give that up. Nonproliferation is one of the more important foreign policy issues for Obama, and as long as there is an opportunity to reach an agreement that seems to advance that cause Obama will want to keep pursuing it. Finally, I suspect that Obama correctly assumes that his handling of Iran has broader international and domestic support than the critics of the negotiations realize. Netanyahu may think that most Americans will sympathize with his position, but if so he is very likely misreading the public mood and potentially inviting a backlash against himself.