They say that the world is divided between optimists, and those who were optimists and sobered up. The optimists tell me that the Chief of Joint Staffs of the US Army, General Martin Dempsey, is arriving in Israel for the final coordination of the combined American-Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. As a well known pessimist of many years, I tend to accept the pessimists’ version – General Dempsey is arriving in Israel to personally convey to its political leaders and military commanders President Obama’s most stark warning to date: “Don’t you dare to act against Iran without our approval.”
One has to face the truth. Obama is a political rookie who demonstrated during the last three years a total lack of basic understanding and sound judgement as far as the Middle East and the events taking place in it are concerned. I would like to believe that his enthusiastic support for the demolishing of Hosni Mubarak’s stable and western leaning regime, which brought about the fall of Egypt into the hands of extremist Islamises, stemmed from his ignorance and lack of comprehension and not from other motives, darker and much more worrying. There are American commentators who know a thing or two about the goings-on in Washington who say that in his heart of hearts, Obama would not be too sorry to see Israel destroyed – as long as he could wash his hands and say that it was not him who spilled the blood. Unfortunately, at least in the near future, Obama is the president that Israel will have to live with. They say that in politics, a week is a long time. A year therefore is a very long time. By next January, when a Republican president will probably enter the White House, many events will have already taken place in the Middle East – it is highly likely that the Iranian nuclear crisis and the regional war it will bring will be behind us, and that the conversation with the new American president will be about the rebuilding of the IDF’s strength, the reconstruction of war damaged infrastructure and the new alignment of forces in the Middle East.
As to what is taking place within Israel – election enthusiasts can calm down. There will be no elections in 2012. For good or bad, Israel will have to face the national challenges that the coming year will bring under the leadership of Binyamin Netanyahu. Yes, Netanyahu has many weaknesses and this is not the place to list them all, but he is the leader that the Israeli people produced and with all his shortcomings, I cannot see on the Israeli political horizon any other potential leader that would be able to deal with the Iranian nuclear challenge better than he could. Despite the non-stop screaming of the Israeli and international media and the frustrated heads of the opposition parties, Netanyahu clearly prefers, at least for now, Israel’s survival to President Obama’s political and economic interests, and for this only, the people of Israel must unite behind him at this critical hour. To those who want to settle their disagreements with him – there will be time to do this in the future. As I wrote in a previous article, the British voters kicked Winston Churchill out of office soon after the Second World War ended in Europe.
We may never know what General Dempsey’s personal opinion on the right way to treat the Iranian nuclear threat is. American military commanders at this level understood many times Israel’s security needs and its contribution to the United States’ national security far better than their masters who were sitting in the White House at the time. The late General Alexander Haig, NATO’s commander and later US secretary of states, said once: “Israel is the largest American aircraft carrier in the world that cannot be sunk, does not carry even one American soldier, and is located in a critical region for American national security.” Israel must ensure at any cost that the message General Dempsey will take back with him to Washington will be clear and unequivocal. Israel cannot sit and wait for a second holocaust.