In his speech before congress last night which focused mainly on the American economy, President Obama devoted a few minutes to the issue of Iran’s nuclear program and repeated the hollow clichés we have already heard so many times in the past from him and from his predecessor George W. Bush. The United States will prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, all options are on the table, it is committed to Israel’s security, and never in the past was military cooperation between the two states so strong.
I cannot but repeat what I have been saying over the last three years to anyone willing to listen and have been writing on this site during the last couple of months: No sanctions can stop Iran’s nuclear program any more. Even if strangling sanctions were placed on Iran three years ago, it is doubtful that they would have achieved the hoped for results. The only thing that can stop Iran now from developing nuclear weapons is a destructive military strike. What the Americans and the EU are doing now is too little, too late, and the result of avoiding military action against Iran’s nuclear facilities will be a nuclear armed Iran which nobody will want to confront any more. North Korea is holding America by the crotch with a handful of ballistic missiles armed with nuclear warheads that can probably reach San Francisco and Los Angeles. The strong military cooperation which Obama is so proud of is mainly defensive – when Iran will possess nuclear missiles, I am sure we will all sleep better knowing that American warships will try to intercept them on their way to metropolitan Tel-Aviv.
In the last few days I was glad to read some of Israel’s leading security commentators lining up with this opinion. It is not because they read ‘With Much Courage and Peace’, I am sure they don’t. It is because they understand today what any school child who learnt a bit of history could have told them years ago. In one of the televised debates between the Republican candidates, Newt Gingrich said that he was talking about the situation in the Middle East as a historian. Mitt Romney mocked him and said that the White House needed a president, not a historian. Romney is very wrong. The White House desperately needs someone with a historic perspective who understands the significance of avoiding taking action against a Fascist dictator acquiring arms and informing the world that he intends to wipe you off the map. If there is one good thing I can say about Benyamin Netanyahu, it is that the man has a historic perspective, which he probably acquired from his father.
The recovery of the American economy is indeed very important to the world but as Israelis and Jews, what must occupy our minds first is the United States’ strategic weakness under Obama’s leadership. When the Nazis marched my grandmother and uncle in front of machine guns in Rumbula Forest, I am sure she did not ask herself if there was enough money for next week in the tin box on the kitchen shelf, but it is very likely that he asked himself where the hell did the Soviet army, which he trusted so much as a Communist, disappear to in that critical moment.