Daily Israel Report

Obama’s Super Bowl Interview an Indicator of Policy on Iran?

With regards to Israel and Iran, is ambiguity the policy in the United States?
By Rachel Hirshfeld
First Publish: 2/7/2012, 1:13 AM

On one of the most anticipated and media-hyped days of the American calendar, President Obama spoke to NBC’s Matt Lauer, just prior to the awaited NFL championship game.

The President, as has become customary on Super Bowl Sunday, gave an interview and attempted to answer some of the dominating questions distracting the public. Iran's nuclear ambitions and the anticipated response of both Israel and the United States remain daily headlines, as the Middle East may be best categorized, these days, as a region of unrest unpredictability. 

In response to Lauer’s question regarding whether Israel has promised to give the United States advanced warning, in the event it decides to attack Iran, President Obama responded by saying, “You know, I won’t go into the details of our conversations. I will say we have closer military and intelligence consultation between our two countries than we ever have. And my number one priority continues to be the security of the United States, but also the security of Israel, and we are going to make sure that we work in lockstep as we proceed to try to solve this, hopefully diplomatically."

While it is expected that the two countries maintain close ties, it remains doubtful as to whether these ties result in a similar approach regarding Iran. The President continues to send ambiguous and irresolute messages on the subject, most probably in an attempt to keep and make as many friends as possible prior to the elections.

Commentary Magazine's Jonathan S. Tobin states that "while American diplomats travel the globe trying to corral other nations to support sanctions on Iran, American leaders have been open about their unwillingness to contemplate the use of force and horror at the thought Israel will act on its own." 

NBC reported that “current and former U.S. and Israeli officials” with access to highly classified intelligence affirmed that, “[I]t is highly unlikely that the war-weary U.S. would mount a military attack on Iran, instead relying on financial sanctions and diplomatic pressure to squeeze Tehran.”

The Washington Post’s David Ignatius stated, after speaking with U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, that Obama and Panetta continue to tell Israel to refrain from launching a pre-emptive attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities because such an attack would  “derail an increasingly successful international economic sanctions program and other non-military efforts to stop Iran from crossing the threshold.”

However, as Tobin notes, “The Israelis — and the Iranians — know the current sanctions program is nowhere close to stopping Iran.”

The president also said that there is no imminent “evidence” that Iran has the “intentions or capabilities” of attacking the United States.

While it is quite true that America has been “war-weary” and over-extended in fighting overseas, the very reason behind this feeling lies in the fact that America, like all independent countries, prides itself on taking the necessary steps to defend its citizens and national interests. If there was evidence of Iranian “intentions and capabilities” of attacking America, instead of Israel, it is highly likely that the situation would be approached entirely differently. Furthermore, if diplomatic and economic sanctions no longer prove to be sufficient in hindering the Iranian regime’s heinous desire to “wipe out Israel” it may be time for the Israeli government to take whatever actions necessary to ensure that they, too, protect their citizens and national interests, with or without the “green light” from America.