Netanyahu keeps up Iran pressure on Obama

2012-09-17 12:05

Washington — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has redoubled efforts to pull the US deeper into the confrontation with Iran over its suspect nuclear programme, a push that coincides with Republican challenger Mitt Romney's attempts to convince American voters that President Barack Obama is weak on foreign policy.

Netanyahu spoke only days after the killing of the US ambassador and three other Americans in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi last week marked the most dramatic in a series of global Islamic protests at US diplomatic posts against a California-made film that denigrates the Prophet Muhammad.

Netanyahu said little, if anything, new on the Iranian nuclear programme in two interviews aired on NBC and CNN on Sunday morning television news programmes in the United States.

More of note was the timing of the Netanyahu remarks to an American audience in the final weeks of the US presidential campaign.

The message implicitly fit in with Romney's harsh rhetoric on Iran. Romney, like Obama, has said he would not allow Iran to add a nuclear weapon to its arsenal.

The Republican nominee has been critical of Obama for not acting quickly or forcefully enough, but has not offered specifics about what he would do that is different. Neither Obama nor Romney have called for US military intervention any time soon.

Solo attack

Obama insists that time remains for tough sanctions imposed by the US and its allies to force a diplomatic solution.

Netanyahu argues time is running out and that Washington must quickly draw "red lines" past which Iran cannot move in its nuclear programme without engendering an American military attack.

Netanyahu has threatened that Israel would attack Iran alone if it determines Tehran is reaching a point beyond which the Israeli military could do little to stop the march toward building a nuclear weapon.

The United States, its Western allies and Israel all accuse Iran of using what it says is a nuclear programme designed only for electricity generation and medical research as cover to build a weapon.

The savvy Netanyahu, who lived many years in the United States and once worked at the same financial firm as Romney, denied he was intervening in the US presidential race.

He and Obama have a cool relationship, and earlier this summer he accorded Romney the trappings of a visiting head of state when the candidate made a gaffe-filled foreign tour to build his standing on foreign policy.

Obama apologies

As Muslim demonstrators threaten US diplomatic missions throughout the Islamic world, Netanyahu's remarks on NBC sought to draw on the violence to bolster his argument.

"Iran, with nuclear weapons, would mean that the kind of fanaticism that you see storming your embassies would have a nuclear weapon. Don't let these fanatics have nuclear weapons," he said.

That came on the heels of renewed Romney assertions that Obama had run a foreign policy in the Islamic world that was based on apologies for past American actions, especially in the Arab world.

Romney then amped up his criticism in the first hours of the start of the current chaos at US embassies, by ill-timed remarks that the Obama administration was not standing up for US ideals.

He spoke before an assault on the US embassy in Cairo and the attack on the consulate in Benghazi, Libya, in which Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed.

Romney came under heavy political fire for those remarks and even sterner comments the next day. He was blasted by Democrats and some Republicans for issuing statements before he knew the facts and for breaking with the US tradition of bipartisanship in times of foreign crises.

Nuclear calendar

Romney and his surrogates also have been deeply critical of Obama's handling of US-Israeli relations, with some Republican surrogates saying the administration has "thrown Israel under the bus".

Netanyahu denied he was joining that argument. Asked if he viewed Romney as the candidate who would keep Israel safer, the Israeli leader told NBC:

"God, I'm not going to be drawn into the American election. And what's guiding my statements is not the American political calendar, but the Iranian nuclear calendar."

But his appearance on widely viewed and important US television news programmes when he did, whether knowingly or not, could affect the outcome of the race.

While the struggling US economy is the top issue among American voters, much of Romney's most conservative base, especially evangelical Christians, are determined to tie the United States even more closely to the needs of Israel.

Netanyahu contends Iran poses an existential threat and would use a nuclear weapon to make good on his rhetorical threats to wipe Israel off the map.

While polls show Obama gaining ground on Romney's standing among voters as the best candidate to handle the economy, the president holds a significant lead as the best man to run US foreign policy.

Romney sees the turmoil in the Islamic world and attacks on US embassies as an opportunity to cut into that advantage. He no doubt is taking pleasure, as well, over the timing of Netanyahu's remarks and the audience he was addressing.

  • John Peter Steyn - 2012-09-17 13:16

    I'm so sick of Israel deciding US foreign policy. Why don't all the Jews in the US just bloody move to Israel.

      Larry - 2012-09-17 13:48

      Because we belong everywhere and we have won the right.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-09-17 15:24

      Israel decides US foreign policy? What a silly, uninformed idea.

      larry.lachman.54 - 2012-09-17 18:20

      Bones, who said anything about being superior? You did, not me. What makes you think you or anyone for that matter, can tell us where we belong? We have won the right because we contribute to world society. We are no-ones refugees. Any problem with that?

      larry.lachman.54 - 2012-09-17 20:35

      Dont worry Lesego, I have had one foot in Israel for some time now. Just that SA needs me more and I have roots in this country. I am quite certain that I contribute more than some pikinin such as you.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-09-18 01:56

      Patrick, you don't speak for South Africa notwithstanding what your Ego tells you.

  • manfred.coates - 2012-09-17 13:44

    Netanyahu clearly shows the weakness of the American political system. He attacks the President, the General Staff and the Democratic Party, sides with his old friend Romney and Americans can not see that they are no longer in control of their future. Netanyahu can start a war and call on Americans to fight, die for his goals. The needs and goals of the United States are totally left out of the picture. 44 Congressmen get their elections and vacations paid for by Israel and Americans look the other way. Our enemies could not have done this better and Americans watch and still get their trills when Romney appears. Is this a sign of the decline of America?

      Fidel - 2012-09-17 14:11

      In America, AIPAC dominates foreign policy, in Britain 80% of leading party MPs are members of the powerful CFI (Conservative Friends of Israel) and in France CRIF runs the show.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-09-17 15:27

      Also a silly uninformed perspective. Netanyahu did not attack Obama. Maybe in your world he did. In the real world he didn't. Netanyahu also cannot start a war and call on Americans to fight. The Israeli prime minister can issue a command for US forces to fight? What a ridiculous idea. Anything else you want to make up?

  • fort.horseman.7 - 2012-09-17 13:49

    Im tryn hard to see wheres the logic in goin to war to prevent a war,especially 1 as dire as a war with Iran.The only winner in this war will b 'destruction' on all sides.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-09-17 15:31

      Israel does not want to go to war. It wants to target the Iranian regime's nuclear facilities. I'm not in favour of this, especially at this time. But if push comes to shove, I am. Under no circumstance must the election-rigging, woman-stoning, terrorism-funding, Palestinian-abusing Iranian regime have nuclear weapons. The IAEA, the same agency that tried to dissuade the US from invading Iraq, stated last week there were clear signs the regime was moving towards developing these weapons.

      fort.horseman.7 - 2012-09-17 18:30

      How can u isolate ur 2 beginning statements.Dennis Kunnici ,senior US Statesman himself says itl be madness,and predicted that such an attack wud send US fuel prices 5 times higher,which wud apply worldwide.It wud be fair to say that the oil dependant world wud ground to a standstill.Can 1 imagine the repercussions of that,and the financial tsumami effect it wud have on the cost of daily living.This attack needs to be wiped off the agenda.If al parties behave,theres no need for threats or war.Ahmadinejad does not want a war but at the same time is fully prepared.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-09-18 01:59

      Are you aware that the Iranian regime is already under major sanctions. Saudi Arabia has picked up the slack in oil production.

  • allcoveredinNinjas - 2012-09-17 14:46

    Fidel- Iran just like North Korea is under sanctions , as a signatory they are obligated to follow and adhere to the treaty. No such obligations for non-signatories. Iran is not suicidal and there are plenty of reformists, opposition and movements (the green movement is one i support) but theocratic regime does have , expressed and is acting in disturbing ways . Its been said that two clocks are ticking in Iran ,one is the internal reform clock being pushed by the youth and the other is the nuclear clock and one of these is gonna finish ticking first which will be another Iranian turning point . Like most i'd like to see the internal reform clock win out , the regime appears(who knows behind doors) to be pushing for the other . The Isreali samson option is generally used as a synonym for their weapons program but also a nuclear strategy , used if their is a threat to their existance and they do have legitimate concerns here . I think its hard to claim irrationality on their part when it comes to this threat .

      Fidel - 2012-09-17 15:21

      North Korea, along with Israel, Pakistan and India are a non member, so my point still stands. The Iranians are smart enough to know that both the US and Israel will come up with other excuses to invade that country and there's nothing that the so called intl community can do. It is this rogueness on the part of both the US and Israel that is leading Iran to "seek" a deterrence, and the Iranian leaders will be in dereliction of duty if they failed to heed this threat. There are plenty of motives why the US wants a more pliable government in Tehran and will not rest until this objective has been met. I do not trust both the Israelis and Americans (historical justification) and the Iranians seems to share the same sentiment, and rightly so!

      allcoveredinNinjas - 2012-09-17 15:53

      So the one thing Iran knows will cause a confrontation, is the one thing they seeking so as to deter a confrontation ? This isn't a dereliction of duty but thrusting the nation into a confrontation and more credence to the 'crazy mullah'theory . Yip , there are plenty of reasons the US wants the theocratic dictatorship , that issues open assasinations on authors of fiction , sponsors militant terror organisations, whose politcal support is built on anti-americanism , who threatens neigbours, who threatens the existence of a member state of the united nations, who has lied about its nuclear weapons procurement and development . I wonder why that is , but to invade is still virtually at nil.If they were open and honest , they would be freely trading with the world and they would have acquired nuclear energy and technology but thats not the case and invites sinister , malicous assumtions on their motivations. Not sure about the NPT point, mine is that Iran is a signatory and therefore has obligations where the others do not and that this is a very big point . They are not permitted under this treaty to develop nuclear weaponry , if they violate this then any agreement with them is worthless especially after all their claims.

      Fidel - 2012-09-17 16:21

      What do you think will happen if Iran were to withdraw from the NPT as did North Korea in 2003. The same bellicose threats by Israel and the US because that is not the issue. The confrontation has been ongoing for over 30 years, started by the western powers, Britain and the US. Iran has every moral right to assist the Palestinian resistance movements fighting foreign occupation of their country. It is western adventurism that has caused instability in the Middle East, and not Iran. Their posture is merely defensive. I can't understand the constant repetition of the risible threat to destroy Israel, when there is so much true craziness out there to be used. Come on, you don't even hear that on North Korean radio. The Iranian are being molested because they refuse to follow Washington's dictas, are challenging US/Israeli hegemony in the region, are trading outside the Bank of International Settlements, as did Iraq. What guarantees can the world give Iran that the US would never attack them.........none? We are dealing with rogue countries here who have shown countless times that they couldn't be bothered with things like Intl law.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-09-17 16:30

      Fidel, again, you're looking at the world through faulty lenses. For heaven's sake, you believe Nelson Mandela is a phony, a lackey of the West, a modern-day Uncle Tom. How can you possibly expect to see a true reality with such obviously ridiculous beliefs such as that.

      Fidel - 2012-09-17 16:34

      Israeli leading politicians have stated on a few occassions that if their existance were to be threatened, they would take the whole world down with them. Do these sound like rational people that should be trusted, and why should the rest of the world not take this threat seriously if Iran's reported intentions of wiping Israel off the map are. Iran doesn't want to destroy Israel and would never be able to do so and survive, but the problem is that Jewish politics is always formed by future trauma.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-09-17 16:54

      Does it sound rational that Nelson Mandela is a phony, a lackey of the West, a modern-day Uncle Tom? Fidel's words in the US/Mandela story a few weeks ago. I kid you not.

      allcoveredinNinjas - 2012-09-17 17:06

      Now its the regurgitated anti-semtic propaganda that goes nowwhere . I think the Isreali fears of the existance being threatened is not irrational for very obvious reasons and their 'future trauma' is justified by 2000yrs of systematic persecutions , pogroms and genocides. Jews don't consist of only 15 mil people because of a lack of attractiveness of its religion.

      Fidel - 2012-09-17 17:44

      @Ninja Ex Prime Mister Golda Meir has stated that it was Israeli policy that in a doomsday situation Israel " would be prepared to take the region and the whole world down with it". Bear in mind that collective suicidal narratives such as Samson and Masada are so precious within the Zionist and Israeli discourses. There are some deluded religious zealots within the Israeli political fibre, no different to the Mullahs in Iran.

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