The United States finds itself in the curious position of going to the mat on behalf of Israel's top security concern preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear bomb while Israel and its supporters continue to insist that U.S. officials maintain Israel's decades-old "ambiguity" about whether or not it possesses a nuclear arsenal of its own.
This extraordinary double standard demanding transparency from Iran, which doesn't have the bomb and disavows wanting one, and protecting the secrets of Israel, which is believed to have one of the most sophisticated nuclear stockpiles on earth has forced the Obama administration and many U.S. news organizations into logical and moral contortions.
The hypocrisy also is counterproductive, undermining whatever moral standing the United States might have in trying to strengthen safeguards that are considered important to prevent the nightmare scenario of some terrorist organization getting its hands on nuclear materials.
Despite those stakes, Israel's Likud government and its neoconservative backers in the United States show no flexibility when it comes to acknowledging the existence of Israeli nukes or discussing the value of Israel accepting the nonproliferation standards that apply to other nations.
For his part, President Barack Obama has verbally stumbled through two questions when asked about his knowledge of Israel's nuclear arsenal. In both cases, he clumsily maintained the practice of American presidents trying to keep Israel's "secret," a charade that dates back to Richard Nixon and has required the tacit collaboration of the mainstream U.S. news media.
Over the past four decades, Israel's nuclear arsenal has been one of those inconvenient truths that everyone in power knows but agrees not to talk about. In that sense, it represents not only a glaring hypocrisy in the eyes of many around the world but also damages the U.S. democratic process by establishing a factual no-man's-land where public debate fears to tread.
So, instead of news organizations like the New York Times demanding "all the news that fit to print," you see a willful surrender of objectivity in favor of aligning with Israel's desire for secrecy and double standards.
For instance, in a May 9 editorial, the Times demanded a toughening of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to punish countries that evade its prohibitions. The Times said this crackdown was a prerequisite for the United Nations punishing Iran with harsher sanctions.
"At a frightening time -- when Iran and North Korea are defying the Security Council and pressing ahead with their nuclear programs, and terrorists are actively trying to buy or steal their own weapon -- there has to be a law to make clear that proliferation will not be tolerated," the Times said. "The treaty is that law. But it is badly fraying."
The Times said the nations of the world must come together and insist:
-- that "all treaty members accept tougher nuclear monitoring."
--that penalties be imposed on "any state that violates its treaty commitments and then withdraws from the pact, as North Korea did."
--that nuclear-fuel-producing nations, like the United States, guarantee supplies for other countries' "peaceful energy programs."
--that the United States and Russia make deep cuts in their own arsenals and "quickly draw other nuclear powers into arms reduction talks."
--that "no more India-like exemptions from nuclear trade rules" be made "and that any state that tests a weapon would be denied nuclear trade."