Obama warns Israel against Iran strike, cancels joint exercises
Here are two signs that the Obama administration is attempting to dial down tensions with Iran, sending powerful symbolic signals that Washington does not want to see the crisis with Iran militarized.
Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will hold talks this week with his Israeli counterparts. He appears to be warning them not to strike out at Iran unilaterally.
I’ve been having this debate with friends on email and am arguing that the Obama administration will not launch strikes against Iran in an election year, and nor would President Obama greenlight an Israeil strike. Hence Gen. Dempsey’s visit.
The reason for this 2012 time out is that a military strike is inherently unpredictable in its outcome. Politicians don’t like uncertainty, especially in the middle of a hard-fought campaign. If the strikes turned into any kind of war, conventional or uncoventional, that outcome could make Obama look foolhardy and cost him the election.
There is lots of historical precedent for my conclusion. Eisenhower was furious at Israel, Britain and France for launching the 1956 war just before the presidential election. Since they hadn’t informed him they would do this, it made him look like he wasn’t strong in the Middle East. Then, the hostage crisis in Iran, along with the failed helicopter rescue mission, Helped make Jimmy Carter a one-term president.
In addition, the planned joint US-Israeli war games, Austere Challenge 2012, have been cancelled or postponed. The reason for this move has not been made clear by the US. Some are saying that Israel’s budget situation made it impossible to hold the maneuvers now, while others say that Washington became alarmed at what such an exercise might look like at a time of high tensions with Iran in the Straits of Hormuz.
Read the rest of this post at Informed Comment.