Monday, July 06, 2009


Richard Silverstein, Tikun Olam - Plunging squarely into one of the most sensitive issues in the Middle East, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. suggested that the United States would not stand in the way of Israeli military action aimed at the Iranian nuclear program.

The United States, Mr. Biden said in an interview broadcast on ABC's This Week, "cannot dictate to another sovereign nation what they can and cannot do."

"Israel can determine for itself - it's a sovereign nation - what's in their interest and what they decide to do relative to Iran and anyone else," he said, in an interview taped in Baghdad at the end of a visit there. . .

Externally, Obama could be sending a signal to the Iranians that his patience is not infinite and that he is willing to sick the dogs on them if they remain intransigent about their nuclear program. This sounds to me like a Dennis Ross special. It has AIPAC-Israel lobby spin written all over it.

If Biden did not go off the reservation (as I hope to God he did), then it would mean that Obama, is at least in principle, expressing a willingness to abandon his policy, which had been yoked to diplomatic engagement and which had eschewed military solutions. Bibi has specifically begged the U.S. for a green light to attack Iran and until now Obama (and Bush before him) explicitly rejected the entreaty.

In a related development, the Times of London reports that Israel has received tacit approval from Saudi Arabia to use its airspace should it attack Iran. Uzi Mahnaimi, who wrote the story is not known for being the most reliable journalist. In this report he claims that the Mossad chief, who held secret talks with the Saudi, assures prime minister Netanyahu that the Saudis would not object to such an Israeli attack that flew over their airspace. . .

Yet another news report claims that Israeli submarines sailed through the Suez Canal on their way to the Red Sea. The purported purpose was to signal the Iranians that Israelis subs could use their Cruise missiles as part of an attack on Iran. Lots of saber rattling going on. This is what the Obama administration has just encouraged. If you wanted to stir up a nuclear hornet's nest I couldn't think of a better way to do it.

For Obama to turn away from a peaceful resolution of its disagreements with Iran would be a major breach and deeply disappointing to those of us who have supported him in the expectation that we would see a realist-pragmatist foreign policy in place of the Bush era Rough Rider approach to conflict.

Someone will have to explain to me how Biden's words are any different than those delivered by Dick Cheney on the Don Imus Show when he raised the possibility that Israel would attack Iran and that the U.S. would be understanding of its reasons for doing so. Is this why we elected Joe Biden and Barack Obama to office? So they could parrot the policies of the previous discredited inhabitants of the White House??