I woke up this morning with an uncomfortable feeling. A feeling that we are being led by the nose. More accurately – that President Obama is leading us by the nose. A feeling that the British people may have felt when Neville Chamberlin returned from Munich in 1938 with his ‘Peace in our Time’ agreement.
This is an election year. Barring a dramatic change that will bring the Republicans to appoint again a geriatric pilot with an evangelist deputy as their candidates for the White House, there is a good chance that Obama will be defeated in the coming elections. To survive, he must pull out of the hat one of two potential rabbits – the resounding military victory rabbit, or the peace rabbit, an imaginary and temporary peace that will take him past this coming November. A resounding military victory is an expensive and uncertain business – a ‘high risk investment’ in financial markets’ speak. A piece of paper like Resolution 1701, which preserves regional calm for a time while the aggressor continues to do as they please is a much safer bet in the short run.
Obama may come, under the mediation of some third party, to an agreement with the Iranians by which they will be able to continue enriching Uranium to medium levels uninterrupted under a more or less effective international monitoring, whilst holding back from carrying out a nuclear test. The Americans on their side will not activate sanctions against Iran’s central bank and its oil industry, and will prevent Israel from launching a pre-emptive strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities. The Iranians will be able to use this time to continue transferring their Uranium enrichment facilities to strike-proof underground facilities and to continue developing long range ballistic missiles and the technology necessary to complete the building of a nuclear warhead. Obama will finally be able to justify the questionable Noble Peace Prize given to him for unclear reasons at the beginning of his term. The peace agreement he will draw with Iran, he will present as a sane alternative to the aggressive and war mongering statements of his Republican opponents.
Despite the flurry of speculation and commentary, nobody knows for sure what was the subject of President Obama’s conversation with Prime Minister Netanyahu a few days ago, why was the military exercise between the two armies cancelled, or for what purpose is the American Chief of Joint Staffs General Martin Dempsey coming to Israel. The shying of the Obama administration from a direct confrontation with the Iranians after they ordered American aircraft carriers not to return to the Persian Gulf is an ominous sign. A Republican president like Ronald Reagan of George Bush senior, who understood the importance of maintaining American deterrence in the area, would have ordered the passing through the Hormuz Strait of a large naval force backed by a massive air presence within days of the Iranian warning.