Does President Obama want Israel to bomb Iran before the election? If we had more faith in this Administration's competence, we'd be tempted to think so.
Both publicly and behind the scenes, Administration officials have insisted they oppose a unilateral Israeli strike for many reasons: Diplomacy and sanctions still need time to work; an Israeli attack could destabilize the region; Israel doesn't have the military means to do the job thoroughly; and so on.
It's no secret the Israelis don't want to strike Iran either, provided the U.S. is serious about keeping a bomb out of the mullahs' hands. But Israel's confidence in Mr. Obama's seriousness is fading fast. This week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Bloomberg Radio that "we're not setting deadlines" for Iran to halt its program.
That prompted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to note that "those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don't have a moral right to place a red light before Israel."
President Barack Obama, right, with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the United Nations in New York in September last year.That's the kind of tough diplomatic exchange that an Administration should want to smooth over, at least if it's truly intent on forestalling an Israeli attack. But now comes word that Mr. Obama will not even meet with Mr. Netanyahu during the latter's visit later this month to the U.S. Scheduling conflicts, you know.
Late Tuesday the White House issued a statement saying the two leaders had talked and denying any snub. But the message that's reaching Jerusalem these days is closer to "you're on your own, pal" than to "we've got your back." Israel will have to factor that into its security calculations as it contemplates whether to act against Iran, and when.
It's possible this is how President Obama wants it, in order to leave the job of stopping Iran to Israel while avoiding American entanglements. But it's hard to imagine an Israeli attack that didn't ultimately entangle that country's most important ally.
The Administration's diplomatic rebukes to Israel are also telling Iran that it is that much freer to move ahead with its nuclear plans. If Israel does strike Iran, Mr. Obama's mishandling of our ally will be a major reason.
PRAY FOR ISRAEL IN THIS CRITICAL MOMENT, PLEASE!