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Netanyahu’s ‘red line’ is just a red herring

By Dr. Wilmer J. Leon II

Trice Edney News Wire

The Huffington Post and other sources have reported that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu requested a meeting with President Obama to discuss tightening restrictions on Iran and President Obama has rejected his request. Netanyahu has been trying to get the Obama administration to support Israel’s attempt to set a “red line” or boundary around Iran’s nuclear development program. Netanyahu stated during a recent trip to Bulgaria, “The world tells Israel ‘wait, there’s still time.’ And I say, ‘Wait for what? Wait until when…Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don’t have a moral right to place a red light before Israel…”

The Obama administration has denied Israel’s claim that the President has rejected the request for a meeting. According to NBC News, the White House has stated, “The president arrives in New York for the U.N. on Monday, September 24th, and departs on Tuesday, September 25th… The prime minister doesn’t arrive in New York until later in the week. They’re simply not in the city at the same time.”

Did Netanyahu request a meeting and did the Obama administration reject the request is not the real issue. What American’s need to ask is why is Israel, a purported ally trying to bait the US into another senseless war? Also, why does Netanyahu feel so comfortable insulting and trying to bully an American president?

There is a subtle yet significant difference between the U.S. and Israeli policies towards Iran. President Obama has clearly stated his objection to a “nuclear armed Iran.” “My policy is prevention of Iran obtaining nuclear weapons,” he has said. The Israeli position focuses on nuclear capability. As Phyllis Bennis from the Institute for Policy Studies writes, the Israeli position is much more dangerous. “There is no accepted international definition of “nuclear capability.” Usually it refers to some combination of access to enriched uranium or the ability to enrich uranium, and the scientific know-how to follow the how-to-build-a-nuke instructions that are pretty much all over the Internet. Like every country that produces nuclear power, Iran has all that.”

There’s a very big difference between a nuclear bomb and isotopes for medical purposes such as cancer treatment. There’s a very big difference between nuclear armament and capability. There’s an even bigger difference between capability and delivery and all credible studies show that Iran is years away from that possibility.

What’s behind Netanyahu’s rhetorical escalation? Is he attempting to impact U.S. elections with his own Reaganesque October Surprise? Some believe he’s attempting to lay the foundation for an Israeli attack on Iran as early as October. By Netanyahu’s calculation, an Israeli attack before the Nov. 6 election would force President Obama to provide U.S. military support to avoid alienating Jewish voters. Others argue that this is a veiled attempt to draw the U.S. into backing Israel’s artificially and unilaterally determined “red lines” making it easier for Israel to construct the case for Iranian violations and a rational for war.

Netanyahu’s jingoistic rhetoric does not appear to be backed by some in his own government. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak is on the record as stating, “Despite the differences and importance of maintaining Israel’s independence of action, we must remember the importance of partnership with the United States and try as much as possible not to hurt that.”

Reuters has reported as recently as March that “the United States, European allies and even Israel generally agree on three things about Iran’s nuclear program: Tehran does not have a bomb, has not decided to build one, and is probably years away from having a deliverable nuclear warhead.” Defense Secretary Panetta said on Face the Nation, “Are they (Iran) trying to develop a nuclear weapon? No. But we know that they’re trying to develop a nuclear capability. And that’s what concerns us. And our red line to Iran is do not develop a nuclear weapon. That’s a red line for us.”

By not being lured into Netanyahu’s trap President Obama has shown some backbone and done the right thing. He, like the rest of America, has seen this movie before; it was called Iraq. False claims of an imminent nuclear threat that led America into a protracted unnecessary war were wrong then and are wrong now.

American’s need to ask themselves what type of “ally” or “friend” tells lies of catastrophic proportions in an attempt to entice the other into war? If “friends don’t let friends drive drunk” then surely, allies don’t allow each other to attack innocent sovereign nations and start a regional war of cataclysmic proportions.

Netanyahu’s “red line” is just a red herring.

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