Next Monday the Prime Minister of Israel will arrive in Washington, D.C. for an important security meeting with the President of the United States, Barack Obama. The focus of the meeting will be the ever-rising threat of a nuclear Iran. According to Israeli newspapers, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will request that the U.S. deliver an explicit military threat to Iran following the meeting. On the other hand, White House reports say that the President will likely want more time for the current sanctions and diplomatic actions to take effect.
This meeting comes at a crucial time. As one of Israel’s closest allies, President Obama must take this opportunity to dissuade Prime Minister Netanyahu from attacking Iran. First, a missile retaliation from Iran on Israel would be almost certain. Israeli officials believe that the retaliation will be significant but not outlandish. A former Israeli official had this to say about the attack:
“If Iran is struck surgically it will react — no doubt, but that reaction will be calculated and in proportion to its capabilities. Iran will not set the Middle East on fire.”
This may be true, but civilians will undoubtedly die in the retaliation. There has to be more reasoning than what Israel officials previously gave in order to justify a missile attack. That is why President Obama’s meeting on Monday is so crucial. As one of the few countries that Israel will actually listen to, the United States has to strongly urge Israel to cancel or at least delay an attack on Iran.
Second, the Israeli attack would likely be directed at one of Iran’s most developed nuclear power plants in Tehran. This would be a significant setback to the Iranian nuclear program, but it would not be a debilitating blow. It would simply prolong the inevitable. Iran is still going to continue developing nuclear weapons after it has recovered from the attack.
A third reason, more pertinent to the United States, is that if Israel attacks Iran, Iran will likely target U.S. citizens abroad in retaliation. This action would be taken to prevent the U.S. from continuing the decimation on Tehran’s nuclear program.
A fourth, and final, reason may be the most important of all. In the midst of all the talks about attacking Iran, the general public of Israel has been excluded from the decision. Recently, a poll discovered that only 19% of Israelis support a non-U.S. backed missile strike against Iran, and even with U.S. support, only 42% if Israelis support an attack. In general, regardless of all factors, at least 32% oppose the attack.
For these reasons and many others, President Obama needs to give very strong counsel to Prime Minister Netanyahu next Monday to not attack Iran. In the midst of so much fighting, tension, and murder in the Middle East already, the last thing that the United States or Israel needs is the retaliation of Iran to an Israeli attack. The United States does not need to get involved in another conflict right now, especially when we would be dragged into this conflict by our ally, Israel. For now, Israel’s next step: Sit tight.