Israeli politicians know how to play along with the liberal American media, but when it comes to national security, they don’t pull any punches. A day after delighting the Obama campaign by praising the president’s cooperation with Israel, Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak told U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta that Obama’s policy of sanctions was not stopping Iran’s nuclear problem. Yesterday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went further, publicly challenging Panetta on the Obama administration’s foot-dragging on Iran.
The Wall Street Journal describes the scene that unfolded as Netanyahu challenged Panetta to go beyond Obama’s rhetoric and commit to a more serious course of action:
“Right now the Iranian regime believes that the international community does not have the will to stop its nuclear program,” Mr. Netanyahu said in Jerusalem on Wednesday, with Mr. Panetta by his side. “This must change, and it must change quickly because time to resolve this issue peacefully is running out.”
Mr. Netanyahu said Iran didn’t appear to believe U.S. statements that all options were on the table.
“You yourself said a few months ago that when all else fails, America will act,” he said to Mr. Panetta. “But these declarations have also not yet convinced the Iranians to stop their program.”
Mr. Panetta, after greeting the prime minister warmly, appeared to have been taken aback by his sharp criticism of the U.S. The defense secretary, in his public remarks, took a more hawkish tone toward Iran, in an effort to ease Israeli concerns.
The public split between Israel and the United States–mirroring the split between Obama’s words and deeds–burst into the open again, contradicting the evident attempt by the American media to cover for Obama (even the Wall Street Journal headline obscures the truth: “U.S. Reassures Israel on Iran Plans”). The Obama administration has tried everything it could–from approving new military aid (complete with a presidential gaffe), to leaking reports (later contradicted by Israel) that the U.S. had shared an attack plan against Iran. But the differences remain, largely because of the Obama administration’s preference for “leading from behind”–and preserving the illusion of a “grand bargain” with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the murderous Iranian regime.
CNN’s Wolf Blitzer had set out, evidently, to give the Obama campaign whatever support it could. After bagging the Barak interview (which led the Jerusalem Post to announce that Barak had “endorsed” Obama), Blitzer tried to prompt President Shimon Peres to heap similar praise upon Obama (Peres cleverly and politely side-stepped). But his attempts have foundered upon the rocky relations fostered by Obama’s efforts at appeasing Iran. When it comes to the Iranian nuclear threat, Obama has already been judged by friend and foe alike–and he has failed.