HE MAGAZINE Weekly Standard
Obama’s Iran Failure
Israel turns up the heat.
NOV 21, 2011, VOL. 17, NO. 10 • BY LEE SMITHSingle PagePrintLarger
The Obama administration’s Iran policy rested on three pillars—the peace process, engagement, and containment. The first would win the newly elected president credit with the Arab people of the Middle East and empower the Arab states to gather in a robust coalition against Tehran. As for the second, even if engagement failed to bring Iran back into the community of nations, it would prove to Washington’s European allies and, more important, to Russia and China, that the Obama White House had gone the extra mile, which would, in turn, make containment possible.
All three efforts have now failed, which may explain why recent Israeli news reports suggest Jerusalem is moving toward a decision about a military strike of some sort against Iran’s nuclear program.
After more than half a year of relative quiet as the Arab Spring rolled through the Middle East, the Israeli government has helped shift the regional conversation back to Iran. It’s hardly surprising that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are reportedly in favor of a strike since their historical legacies might rest on how the Iranian issue is resolved. However, the fact that Israel’s president Shimon Peres now calls military action “more and more likely” suggests that, regardless of the eventual decision, Israel has embarked on a public diplomacy campaign intended to seize international attention.