Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A Sage Speaks

Israel's decades of indulgence from US presidents and a largely supine Congress have produced a culture where it virtually dictates what US policy should be.

Netanyahu is seeking to link Iran even more closely to Israeli policy than the former prime minister Ehud Olmert did. The most important thing that Obama should tell Netanyahu is that Washington rejects such linkage. The main source of tension in the ­Middle East and the Gulf is not Iran.

As for an attack on Iran's nuclear ­facilities, Obama must reject it openly. When Olmert raised the issue last year even Bush told him it was unacceptable because an attack would be seen as ­having US support, since ­Israel's ­bombers would have to fly across US-controlled airspace in Iraq.

Bush saw that his last hopes of retaining credibility in the Muslim world would collapse, but his message to the then Israeli prime minister was made privately. Obama should not only tell Netanyahu the same thing. He should give his message loud and clear in public. He should also declare that any US attack on Iran is off the table. What Washington rightly warns Israel not to do, it ­cannot reserve the right to do itself.

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