A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman
March 4, 2012- Obama at AIPAC
President Obama gave his long awaited speech to AIPAC this morning, in Washington, DC. The speech was carried live on Israeli TV (on all the main channels), as was the speech delivered before by Israeli President Peres. Tomorrow is the meeting between Netanyahu and Obama, as well as Netanyahu's speech to AIPAC.
There were no surprises in President Obama's speech. Most of what he said was telegraphed in the interview he gave to Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic, entitled: Obama to Iran: I don't Bluff. Obama's speech was well received in Israel, although some commentators believed it was more of a campaign speech, than anything else-- since in the speech Obama refuted all the charges against him claiming he is not sufficiently pro-Israel. In the speech, Obama detailed how the United States would not accept containment of Iran, more clearly than ever before. He stated that a nuclear Iran was "not an option", and that the US would "use all the levers of power in its hand, including the military one, if necessary" to stop Iran.
President Obama also announced he would be awarding the Medal of Freedom Award to President Peres in May.
It is not clear how all this will play out in tomorrow's meeting between Netanyahu and Obama. It is possible that what we are seeing is sophisticated Kabuki theater, with Netanyahu, Obama, Barak and other members of the American team each playing their parts. The goal is to convince the world to keep turning the screws on Iran, otherwise Israel will attack, or the US might even attack.
I could be wrong, but for the moment, I will go with a big show. I do not believe that Israel, or, for that matter, the US will attack Iran, as long as the sanctions are continually getting tighter. Sanctions have not worked yet. However, sanctions are truly getting much tougher. If and when Assad's regime falls, sanctions against Iran may yet work. It's not likely, but very possible. As long as it is a real possibility sanctions could work, then it is worth pursuing that strategy. President Obama made it clear he has no reason to believe that the leaders of Iran will make the right choice. Though he also rightly stated, that the only way to permanently end their nuclear program, is if they end it.
See Full Text of President Obama's Speech