Op-Ed: Obama's Iran Moves Could Start World War III

Thursday, November 21, 2013 |  Noah Beck

According to a recent news report, President Barack Obama has for over a year secretly conducted negotiations with Iran (through his adviser Valerie Jarrett) and the Geneva talks on Iranian nukes now appear to be just a facade providing international legitimacy for Obama's secret deal with Iran.

Secretary of State John Kerry's contradictory criticism of Israeli objections to that deal only suggests more bad faith by the Obama administration. Kerry claims that Israel has been kept fully apprised of the negotiations with Iran, but then argues that Israel has never seen the terms of the proposed deal with Iran and therefore shouldn't question it.

The Obama administration apparently wants to present the nuclear deal as a fait accompli that Israel must simply accept as is.

In what is becoming a familiar pattern, Russia is readily moving in to the Mideast areas where U.S. influence has waned because of Obama's many fumbles in the region. Last August, Saudi Arabia made it clear that it would happily replace US aid to Egypt (highlighting one of many issues straining U.S. relations with yet another Mideast ally).

On the issue of Iranian nukes, France has effectively replaced the U.S. as Israel's strongest ally and as the most sober-minded advocate of caution when negotiating over the single greatest threat to global security. Incredibly, Saudi Arabia is reportedly replacing the US in providing logistical support for an Israeli strike on Iranian nukes.

Yaakov Amidror, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s former national security adviser, recently indicated that the Israeli Air Force has been preparing for a potential strike on Iran. According to Amidror, such a strike could set back Iran's nuclear program “for a very long time." So Israel can go it alone, if it must, although the results will be far messier than those produced by a stronger U.S. approach.

While the Obama administration has suggested that critics of the current Geneva deal are "on a march to war," it is that very deal -- which gives Iran a nuclear breakout capacity -- that will force the states most threatened by Iran to take preemptive military action.

Even if one accepts Obama's apparent view that decades-long alliances matter no more than do U.S. assurances, there are other compelling reasons for Obama to reverse his disastrous Iran policy before its too late. Granting an Iranian nuclear weapons breakout capability will produce catastrophic consequences (many of which Obama himself acknowledged, in his March 2012 speech):

  1. The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) will effectively be finished. The world's most volatile region will become even more explosive as other regional players scramble to establish their own nuclear arsenals to counter Iran's. And rogue nations will realize that by following Iran's deceptive playbook, they too can develop a nuclear capability.
  2. The force of U.N. Security Council Resolutions will be further diluted, as Iran will continue flouting six of them with impunity.
  3. Iran-backed terrorist organizations -- including Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Hezbollah -- will grow emboldened by the nuclear umbrella of their patron.
  4. Terrorism could go nuclear, should Iran share some of its nuclear materials with the terrorist groups that it supports.
  5. U.S. influence in the Middle East will erode even more, as Obama further damages U.S. relationships and influence in the region.
  6. U.S. credibility throughout the world will plummet. If the U.S. cannot be trusted to provide strong leadership on the national security issue of greatest concern to the free world, where U.S. interests are directly at stake, what does that mean for U.S. credibility more generally?
  7. Global instability and oil prices will skyrocket. If Israel, with Saudi assistance, strikes Iran's nuclear program, the Iranian retaliation that follows could spark World War III. Will Iran attack Saudi oil fields or otherwise pour more fuel onto the Sunni-Shia fire in Syria? Will Iran and Iran-backed Hezbollah (estimated to have at least 45,000 missiles) launch a massive attack killing thousands of Israeli civilians? Will some of the Syrian chemical weapons held by Assad (another Iranian ally) end up hitting Israel? How would Israel respond? Is this how Armageddon happens?
  8. U.S. interests will be attacked. Obama may think that his policy of appeasement will shield the U.S. from Iranian reprisals, but the opposite is true. When the U.S. appears so weak and ready to abandon allies (as with Egypt, Israel, and Saudi Arabia), Iran has less fear of attacking the U.S. and more reasons to do so, as a way to exacerbate U.S. tensions with Israel.

Will attacking U.S. interests be yet another Obama "red line" that gets crossed with impunity? If so, then whatever is left of U.S. deterrence and credibility will have been destroyed. If not, then the U.S. will get sucked into another Mideast war but on terms dictated by the adversary, and without any first-strike advantage.

The catastrophic consequences outlined above would all directly result from Obama's disastrously weak -- but still reversible -- policies on the Iranian nuclear threat.

The Jewish people have a long memory, and it pervades the thinking of Israeli civilians and top brass alike. Thus, Israel's brief history is replete with daring military operations to protect its security. In Netanyahu's speech at the last UN General Assembly, in what may have been Israel's final warning to the world to deal with the Iranian nuclear threat before Israel must, the Prime Minister summed up -- from his personal family history -- the collective experience that guides Israel on fateful decisions:

"[O]ne cold day in the late 19th century, my grandfather Nathan and his younger brother Judah were standing in a railway station in the heart of Europe. They were seen by a group of anti-Semitic hoodlums who ran towards them waving clubs, screaming 'Death to the Jews.' My grandfather shouted to his younger brother to flee and save himself, and he then stood alone against the raging mob to slow it down. They beat him senseless, they left him for dead, and before he passed out, covered in his own blood, he said to himself 'What a disgrace, what a disgrace. The descendants of the Macabees lie in the mud powerless to defend themselves.' He promised himself then that if he lived, he would take his family to the Jewish homeland and help build a future for the Jewish people. I stand here today as Israel's prime minister because my grandfather kept that promise."

Obama should know by now that if he forces Israel's hand, then Israel alone will neutralize the Iranian nuclear threat, regardless of how messy the aftermath may be. Netanyahu -- like any other responsible Israeli leader -- would rather bring about World War III than the last Israelis.

Noah Beck is the author of The Last Israelis, an apocalyptic novel about Iranian nukes and other geopolitical issues in the Middle East.

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