Obama will get rolled in Washington by the pro-Israel forces and their congressional allies if he plays the game simply on the Washington turf. He needs to take the issue to the American people in dramatic fashion, trusting the collective wisdom of the electorate and its ability to see the issue in broad perspective. Thus, prior to his next news conference (which he should schedule soon), he should have Secretary of State John Kerry say something about his Mideast diplomatic efforts just provocative enough to ensure he will get a news conference question on the matter. Then, when it comes, Obama should reply with something along these lines:
Well, I have great respect and admiration for Mr. Netanyahu. He leads a proud and fierce people, and nearly all Americans draw inspiration from what Israel has accomplished since its birth sixty-five years ago. As I have said many times, America’s commitment to Israel’s security is iron-clad and inviolate. The relationship between the two countries is indestructible. But being allies, even allies with the most powerful ties of mutual interest and emotion, doesn’t mean that two nations will always agree on everything, that there can never be a divergence in their interests. In fact, the closer the alliance, the more imperative it is that the two nations recognize and accept that their interests could diverge. Mutual respect requires that. I wouldn’t presume to tell Mr. Netanyahu what the interests of his country are at any given time. He is the elected leader of that country, and it is his job to know such things down to the last detail. I have no doubt that he does.
But I am the elected leader of the United States, and it is my job to know what U.S.national interests are. And right now I believe it is in the U.S. national interest to seek a negotiated accord with Iran that would not only move that country away from nuclear weapons development but also lure it back into the community of nations in ways that could enhance prospects for stability and peace in the Middle East. That’s what I am trying to do with these delicate negotiations. And it isn’t just me. The leaders of several other major nations are involved in this effort (though we’re still working on the French), based on the conviction that this may be our last best hope for resolving the issues that have been moving us toward ever-heightened tensions and possible war.