I was initially unimpressed a few days ago when “Cheney said”:http://msnbc.msn.com/id/6847999/:
Well, one of the concerns people have is that Israel might do it without being asked, that if, in fact, the Israelis became convinced the Iranians had significant nuclear capability.
Given the fact that Iran has a stated policy that their objective is the destruction of Israel, the Israelis might well decide to act first, and let the rest of the world worry about cleaning up the diplomatic mess afterwards. [Mess edited for clarity. _ACW_]
I figured this was yet more buck passing by the administration (“Hey, don’t look at us….it’s the Israelis you gotta worry about”) but then realized that he was really threatening Iran. The reason is very simple- the US, it would seem, pretty much has veto power over an Israeli strike. Which means an Israeli attack is pretty damn close to a US/Israeli attack.
Now, I realize that lots of people complain that our influence on the Sharon government is limited. But in this case, there seem to be some pretty obvious barriers to Israel attacking without U.S. permission. If I’m reading “this map”:http://www.odci.gov/cia/publications/factbook/reference_maps/middle_east.html correctly, Israeli aircraft would have to pass though Iraq, Turkey, or Saudi Arabia to bomb Iran. For obvious reasons, I think the US and our allies would have a bit of influence in all of those places.
And yes, I’m aware that Israel has “submarines with missiles”:http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2003_11/Israel.asp, but I really doubt there’s more than a slight possibility that Israel could up and attack Iran in such a manner without the US knowing about it.
In any case, this administration has to get serious about Iran. In one sense, it’s saying the right things. Cheney said “everybody would be best suited…if we could deal with it diplomatically” and Powell “said 10 December”:http://www.usembassy.ro/WF/100/04-12-13/eur111.htm that â€œU.S. policy is not to advocate regime change in Iran.”
But the problem is that remarks like Cheney’s Israel comments indicate that the administration is talking out of both sides of its mouth on this issue. Since Bush acted in bad faith in the case of Iraq, it’d be hard to blame anyone for thinking that he isn’t serious about diplomacy this time either.
If U.S. policy really is “diplomacy without regime change” (as the administration says it is), then US officials need to express that over and over again and tell people like Cheney to STFU about military action.