Setting Red Lines for Iran

Bibi wants em:

In a blistering response to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s statement that the United States is “not setting deadlines” for Iran and that negotiations coupled with sanctions are the best approach, Netanyahu said that if no “red line” is established for Iran, it will continue a program that Israel says is intended to build an atomic bomb.

Actually, the issue isn’t a red line per se, but apparently which red line. Obama has repeatedly stated that Iranian acquisition of nuclear weapons is “unacceptable.” That is a pretty clear red line. But what Natanyahu wants is some sort of ultimatum to Iran to dismantle its nuclear program altogether.

I’m pretty skeptical of the peaceful intent Iran’s nuclear program, but the reality is that there is no legal basis for denying the right to a nuclear program. Right now the issue is whether Iran is in violation of reporting requirements under the non-proliferation treaty. That is what the UN Security Council resolutions are essentially about. I don’t see how that justifies a military attack, much less an extended conflict.

Israel basically wants a preventive war. And not just a preventive war, but a war to deny Iran a right it possesses under international law. Regardless of the character of the regime, this position is not going to garner a lot of international support. So the costs would go far beyond just the immediate consequences of the strikes and any Iranian retaliation.

I don’t see how any American leader looking at the cost-benefit calculus could support Israel on this… and yet, just watch the right-wingers squawk about Obama’s refusal to grant Natanyahu a private audience.

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