Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today in Jerusalem. Reuters
The U.S. political madness and obsession with Iran's nuclear program went a step further yesterday as the president issued an executive order and a bipartisan group of House and Senate leaders met and agreed to tighten sanctions against Iranian "shipping of oil and other products".
This came days after Mitt Romney, on a foreign policy sojourn to Israel this past weekend opined, "America's highest national security priority" is preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, that "no option is off the table" in making sure that doesn't happen and that containment of Iran "is not an option". Meanwhile his top foreign policy aide, Dan Senor intimated Romney "was ready to support a unilateral military strike by Israel" on Iran's nuclear facilities.
Not to be outdone by the Romney bombast on Iran, Obama had some administration officials pointing out sanctions were having a "deep economic impact" on Iran, driving down its "oil exports by 40 to 50% thus reducing revenue by $9 billion each quarter."
So it's tit for tat in this year's presidential sweepstakes as the two major party contenders contend to see who is tougher on Iran; that country being the convenient punching bag and chief bogey man.
If only the Iranian nuclear program controversy constituted the usual "political football" we see every four years then it would amount to nothing more than a food fight in a college dining hall. Unfortunately, that is not the case.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (last seen glad handing candidate Romney in Jerusalem last Saturday) has been chomping at the bit for months wanting to attack Iran's nuclear facilities. That desire was heightened recently by his blaming Iran for being behind last weeks bombing of a tourist bus in Bulgaria that killed five Israeli vacationers, (this without having any conclusive evidence and while the results of a Bulgarian investigation of the incident were still in progress).
Then there's Romney in Israel further roiling the waters, spoiling for a war with Iran.
To be sure, Iran has been affected by the punishing economic sanctions placed upon it (which affects ordinary Iranians directly while doing nothing to shake the hold of the clerical regime). Yet Iran refuses to be cowed and intimidated by U.S. and Israeli military threats, the two American aircraft carrier groups patrolling in the Persian Gulf, the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists in Iran or the U.S./Israeli "stuxnet" cyber warfare computer worm that disrupted centrifuges enriching uranium.
As this writer has repeatedly warned, a U.S. war on Iran or its proxy Israel will be catastrophic, bringing with it a world wide economic calamity, skyrocketing oil prices, retaliation by Iran using conventional missiles raining down on Israel proper, likely attacks on American installations in Iraq by Iran's Shiite allies plus all the other "unexpected consequences" arising from any war, not just an unnecessary war with Iran.