Obama and Netanyahu yesterday in Oval Office, photo by Doug Mills/ The New York Times
Though they smiled faintly for the cameras in the photo-op prior to their meeting yesterday in the Oval Office, President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu barely hid their distaste for one another as neither man respects or trusts the other.
Yet that's not the issue, as comity between country's leaders is overblown. In the end it's making the correct decisions and taking the right course that matter, especially with Iran being THE issue at hand.
Of course, Iran shouldn't be an issue. It's not a threat to either country, has no nuclear bomb, has a right to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, has signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, has complied with IAEA inspectors, hasn't invaded another country in hundreds of years, and recently Ayatollah Khamenei, the real leader in Iran, condemned the idea of nuclear weapons and even equivocated them as a sin and that Iran would never develop them. Say what you will of the clerical autocrat (and let's be clear I'm no fan of his) depicting nuclear bombs as a "sin" is pretty definitive language (although his words were hardly reported in the MSM and ignored by the talking heads and pundits in the U.S.).
But back to Obama and Netanyahu yesterday; both dissembled their reasoning for an attack on Iran with Obama saying sanctions were working, give diplomacy a chance, he has "Israel's back", he doesn't "bluff" and he'd act militarily if necessary to prevent Iran from attaining a nuclear bomb. Meanwhile, Netanyahu countered, "When it comes to Israel's security, Israel has the right, the sovereign right to make its own decisions", (meaning Israel will act unilaterally; bombing Iran is very much on the table and such a decision would be theirs alone).
So there it was; neither man saying explicitly or drawing lines in the sand vis---vis, Iran. What we did get was dissembling i.e. a disguise to conceal the true nature of their intentions.
As I wrote a few days ago in these pages, "President Obama could make it clear in his meeting with Netanyahu that he does not support Israel's bombing Iran". That would be plain speaking and understandable in any language. But in today's world such plain speaking would be politically impossible in the U.S. The far right would become unhinged and denounce Obama as a traitor, an Israel hater, weak on defense, blah, blah, blah.
So no, straight talk didn't happen yesterday, won't happen in the future and the specter of an unnecessary attack and war with Iran remains a distinct possibility.
As to reality; Israel has a nuclear arsenal of hundreds of nuclear bombs and the means to deliver them. It could vaporize Iran in an instant if they or anyone else were an actual threat to Israel's existence. But there is no real threat to Israel's existence, yet it acts as though it is under siege, listening to Iran's President Ahmadinejad's ranting that the Holocaust never happened and Israel should be wiped off the map. Those are the words of an ignorant man who has no real decision making power in Iran. But he remains the perfect foil for Israel's imagining Iran threatens their existence.
It's the theatre of the absurd, but one that could bring an unnecessary world catastrophe.