Will Benjamin Netanyahu arrive in Washington this week and attempt to dictate terms of war to a US presidential administration and the United States military? It is by no means certain that he will do so, but there's no shortage of clues that he would like to.
In reality, Netanyahu has been just as open about his desire to use military force to derail Iran's nuclear development program as he has been about his displeasure that Obama isn't following his lead. Far from guarded in his words and actions, Netanyahu is making a bit of a spectacle of his displeasure. One tack has been a not too subtle campaign of lobbying the administration's opponents in both houses of Congress.
To be sure, Netanyahu has found some support on Capitol Hill -- largely but not entirely from Obama administration opponents. At the core of Netanyahu's Congressional support are some familiar names: Joe Lieberman, his good friend, John McCain, and Mitch McConnell, to name a few. Worthy of note is a poorly defined but popular Senate resolution, "S.Res. 386, A resolution calling for free and fair elections in Iran," which is backed by dozens of senators and which holds as one of its values "support for the Iranian people." It also apparently seeks to discourage the White House from pursuing a "strategy of containment" (carrot) in favor of military intervention (stick).
While Joe Lieberman has pointed out that "this resolution is not an authorization to use military force," he also emphasized that it is intended "to say clearly and resolutely to Iran: You have only two choices -- peacefully negotiate to end your nuclear program or expect a military strike to end that program."
For the Obama administration, there may be some wisdom in avoiding a policy of containment. It hasn't worked on Lieberman; why would it work on Iran?
Obama conversely has checked in with a rather grownup statement:
"One of our long-term goals in that region is to make sure that the sacrosanct commitment that we make to Israel's security is not only a matter of providing to them the military capabilities that they need, not only providing the sort of quality military edge that they need in a very tough neighborhood, but also that we are a partner to them to try to bring about a peace in the region that can be lasting. And that is a challenge."
That's open to interpretation of course, but if he can achieve those goals he may well have earned the Nobel Prize he received in Oslo at the beginning of his presidential journey.
Obama's comments do in fact seem to go directly to the heart of the condition that places Israel in long-term conflict with other nations and factions in the region -- lack of a viable blueprint for peace.
Clearly Netanyahu and his Likud Party supporters want a greater sense of self determination, particularly on issues of Israeli national defense. Their problem is their dependence on US economic and military aid.
It would probably be in Israel's best long-term interest for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to envision a sustainable defense policy not underwritten in bewildering measure by the world's last remaining super-power. Nothing lasts forever but the Earth and sky.