Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Israel, Iran, and Biden

There's been some measure of speculation over Joe Biden's performance on "This Week" with Stephanopoulos. A number of people have said that he gave Israel the "green light" to go ahead and attack Iran. I, not being one to regularly watch "This Week," had to go watch him on the internet, but I have to say I disagree with the general speculation as to his intent.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has, I guess, said that he'll give Iran until the end of the year to work with the United States and eliminate their nuclear program. Generous of him, I think, given the fact that Iran is showing no signs of stopping and our president is publicly saying Iran has every right to be a nuclear nation (while making deals with Russia to eliminate vast amounts of our nuclear weapons). Anyway, when Stephanopoulos brought up Netanyahu's position, Biden responded immediately by saying, "Look, Israel can determine for itself -- it's a sovereign nation -- what's in their interest and what they decide to do relative to Iran and anyone else." 

People heard this and started flapping their arms and running in circles saying, "Biden gave the green light! Biden gave the green light!" But you have to listen to everything Biden said in order to determine whether he was really doing that or not. And I have determined that he was talking out both sides of his mouth. He went on to say, "Whether we agree or not. They're entitled to do that. Any sovereign nation is entitled to do that. But there is no pressure from any nation that's going to alter our behavior as to how to proceed." Which, to me, says that Israel has the right to attack Iran just as much as Iran has the right to attack Israel and it doesn't matter whether or not we agree -- but that doesn't mean we're going to back them on it. 

Biden was also very clear that the administration will continue to engage Iran in talks whenever and if ever possible, and that they don't care what Israel thinks about it. 

I'm not an expert on foreign affairs. I'm sure I have no clue as to what all goes on behind the scenes... but from what I can see, the United States has little to no influence in what happens in Iran. Granted, inviting them to come celebrate the birth and independence of The Great Satan might not have been the best way to get them to talk to us, but I don't think there's too much that will convince them we're okay and their ambitions are not. 

Is it possible that Israel will go ahead and attack after the year is out? Sure. Is it possible that Iran could develop their weapons before then? Sure. Does Israel really need our help in order to survive and thrive in their region? I think past history would dictate "no." Frankly, though, I love Israel and it makes me sad to see our country's leadership so at odds with them.

Obama is looking for "progress" with his diplomacy by the end of the year. And he has indicated that he will consider "tougher sanctions" if they continue their quest to go nuclear. But, it seems to me, that sanctions say to them, "You're being bad." Oh, NO! What will tougher sanctions say to them? "You're being really bad." That'll get 'em. 

Anyway, these next twelve months should be interesting on many fronts.

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