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The Netanyahu-Obama Divide

The ideological divide between Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Obama is unbridgeable. It cannot be papered-over by photo-opportunities, smiles and warm hospitality.


On the other hand, the worldview expressed by Netanyahu during his recent visit to the USA is consistent with the majority of Americans and their representatives at the US House of Representatives and US Senate.


According to a February 12, 2012 Pew Research Center poll, Americans support employing military force to prevent Iran from getting nukes by a margin of 58% – 30%. 12% are undecided.  39% – 5% want the US to support a potential Israeli military preemption to prevent Iran from becoming nuclear, while 51% want the US to remain neutral. These opinions have been consistent since October, 2009. A majority of Americans – 64% – 21% – maintain that tougher sanctions will not be effective in preventing Iran’s nuclear drive. Most Democrats, Independents and Republicans concur that even tougher sanctions are ineffective.


A March 3, 2011 NBC/Wall Street Journal poll – conducted by Democrat Peter Hart and Republican Bill McInturff – documents a 52% – 40% majority of Americans supporting military action to destroy Iran’s capability to develop nuclear weapons.


According to a February 2, 2012 Pulse Opinion Research poll, conducted for “The (Capitol) Hill” newspaper, likely voters support the use of military force – 49% – 31% – to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. A January 19, 2012 Rasmussen Report shows that 63% of likely voters believe that sanctions are unlikely to stop Iran’s nuclear weapons development. The aforementioned polls reaffirm that the US is a center-right nation, consistent with polls which document that conservatives (40%) and moderates (40%) outnumber liberals (20%).


Apparently, Netanyahu was not able to convince Obama that: *Sanctions – which have been undermined by Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Indian and Turkish non compliance – will not prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power.  Forty years of sanctions did not prevent the nuclearization of North Korea, and thirty three years of sanctions against Iran have provided Teheran with additional time to develop/acquire nuclear capabilities.


*The US is the prime target for Iran’s nuclear weapons, as it is for Al Qaeda terrorism. Iran develops its super-capability (nuclear weapons) in order to attain its super-goal (domination of the Gulf), and remove the super-obstacle (US military presence). Israel is a secondary target for Iran.


*Vital US interests are at stake. A nuclear Iran would accelerate nuclear proliferation among anti-US regimes in the Mid-East and beyond, would cause a meltdown of pro-US regimes in the Gulf, would disrupt the supply of oil with devastating implications for the price at the pump and on unemployment, could transfer nuclear systems to its beachheads in Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Mexico, and would bolster global Islamic terrorism and sleepers cells in the US and Canada.


*The cost of non-preemption (a nuclear confrontation) would dwarf the cost of preemption. The Netanyahu-Obama summit highlighted the clash of their respective ideologies, which was the background for Netanyahu’s speech at the AIPAC Conference.


While Obama adheres to long-term engagement with rogue regimes – through diplomacy and sanctions – Netanyahu believes that long-term engagement is perceived by rogue regimes as hesitation and vacillation, thus fueling radicalism, violence and instability.


While Obama prefers a domestically-driven regime-change in Iran over a military preemption, Netanyahu has concluded that a prerequisite for regime-change is a surgical non-occupation, no-boots-on-the-ground military preemption, which would provide the required tailwind for the domestic opposition.


While Obama refers to recent developments on the Arab Street as the Arab Spring, which would, supposedly, moderate the Mid-East and could bring down the Ayatollahs regime, Netanyahu observes a tectonic, stormy Arab Winter, which will add fuel to the burning Mid-East.


While Obama highlights multilateralism, and considers the UN as a preferred quarterback of international relations, Netanyahu is aware that the UN is a hostile arena for the Free World.  He is convinced that US unilateralism is essential to global sanity, based on US moral and strategic exceptionalism.


While Obama dismisses the notion of trans-national Islamic and Jihadist terrorism, Netanyahu recognizes the global nature of Islamic terrorism, with Iran as one of its quarterbacks.


While Obama considers the Palestinian issue to be the root cause of Mid-East turbulence, the crown jewel of Arab policy-making and the crux of the Arab-Israeli conflict, Netanyahu is aware that the Palestinian issue is a derivative of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and a secondary/tertiary factor in shaping the Mid-East.


In order to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear capabilities, President Obama will have to amend his worldview.  Otherwise, Netanyahu will have to demonstrate the principle and value-driven tenacity and steadfastness of former Israeli Prime Ministers Ben Gurion, Eshkol, Golda Meir, Begin and Shamir, who founded the Jewish State, and catapulted it to dramatic achievements, through the defiance of US and global political correctness.


Happy Purim,


Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, “Second Thought: US-Israel Initiative” www.TheEttingerReport.com <strong

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