“The moment of truth is at hand,” declares a Haaretz op-ed contributor, before declaring The One the second coming of Jimmy Carter. In reality, there’s no truth to this moment. Obama agrees that Iran’s a very grave threat which we’ll have to address one of these days (but not now) and Bibi agrees that a Palestinian state is very important and he’ll get right on it once the Palestinians acknowledge Israel is a Jewish state (which they’ll never do). It’s a sort of good cop/bad cop routine, starring Obama as the voice of reason who’s trying to get Iran to play ball before his hot-tempered partner loses patience and roughs them up.
What this meeting was really about, as Time explains, is deciding which one of those two issues to prioritize over the other. Ever mindful of his legacy, The One wants to settle the Palestinian question before confronting Iran — even though it’s the latter, not the former, where there’s no time to spare, and even though successful resolution of the latter would greatly increase the odds for a successful resolution of the former rather than vice versa. Consider: If Iran is defanged and steps back from its initiative to seed the region with proxies, Hamas loses its patron and peace becomes more likely. If, on the other hand, the Palestinians are somehow recognized as a state before Iran is dealt with — then what? Obama seems to think this will give Arabs across the region political cover to rally behind their new friend Israel, leading Iran to back down and give up its nuke program, but (a) if it’s true, as the left pretends, that Iran accelerated its nuke program because it felt threatened by hostile powers nearby (Israel and U.S. troops in Iraq), then a united Sunni/Israel front should only exacerbate the problem and (b) even Obama can’t be so naive as to think a Palestinian state will mean a sea change in Arab attitudes overnight, which is what it would take for this strategy to affect Iran before they build a bomb. Forty percent of Israeli Arabs are Holocaust deniers and barely half think the country they live in deserves to exist; with opinion among non-Israeli Arabs doubtless even grimmer than that, the best Israel could hope for from Arab leaders after a Palestinian state is formed is quiet neutrality between it and Tehran. Which is to say, Palestinian peace isn’t in fact a necessary prerequisite to dealing with Iran — but then, universal health care isn’t a necessary prerequisite to dealing with monstrous deficits either, no matter what Obama says. Funny how every time there’s a crisis The One has to deal with, the only “solution” involves some piece of his agenda that he would have been pushing anyway.
Meanwhile, although it’s not being widely reported today, the odds of a productive “dialogue” with Iran just got a lot smaller.
Obama and Netanyahu will likely be working with the same president after Iran’s June 12 elections, though, after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei all but endorsed President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for another term Monday, saying Iranians should not vote in someone who “thinks about endearing himself to some Western power.” A prominent opposition candidate has challenged Ahmadinejad on Holocaust denial and other moves that intentionally antagonize the West…
As the leaders met Monday, Iran’s parliament speaker, Ali Larijani, gave a speech stating “that under no circumstances will the Islamic Republic of Iran recognize the Zionist regime and believes that any country doing so would be defamed among nations,” according to a summary from the official Islamic Republic News Agency.
According to a new poll of Israelis, just 31 percent think Obama is pro-Israel. Bush’s numbers during his presidency: 88 percent. Click the image to watch.
Update: No rush.
Speaking to reporters after meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Obama offered assurances that he did not intend for talks with Iran to become “an excuse for inaction,” a major concern of Israeli officials worried that Tehran will string out talks while making progress toward acquiring a nuclear weapon.
But he also made clear that he was prepared to wait months for Iran to respond to the U.S. offer of better ties in return for halting its nuclear activities. He emphasized that the year-end timetable would be for assessing whether the diplomatic effort was “moving in the right direction,” not a deadline for reaching a final agreement with Iran on halting its nuclear activities.
“By the end of the year I think we should have some sense as to whether or not the talks are having some benefit,” Obama said.
Politico made another nice catch: Whereas Netanyahu wants any deal with Iran to ensure they’re not capable of building a bomb, Obama seems ready to settle for a deal so long as they don’t have a bomb built yet. Which sets us up nicely for a Saddam/WMD redux a few years down the road.