On Wednesday, New America’s Middle East Task Force hosted a post-mortem on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Washington this week amidst the ongoing speculation about Israeli military moves on Iran. Speaking on the panel, Task Force co-director Daniel Levy underscored the degree to which analyses assuming an Israeli strike are likely misplaced. For a combination of reasons, including the court of public opinion in Israel and also Netanyahu’s own demonstrated history as Prime Minister of not undertaking risky military adventures, there is good reason to think that Israel, at this stage, would not engage with Iran militarily without the support of the United States.
However, despite Netanyahu’s calculation and President Obama’s own words this week holding firm against arguments for military action, Levy noted the unwitting position the U.S. president may have put himself in. To wit:
The President may have boxed himself in…All the arguments the President made for why it’s not a good idea to have a strike now apply later on down the line as well. And yet we’re still in a discourse here where rightsizing the Iranian threat is largely out of balance.
Heather Hurlburt, Executive Director of the National Security Network, echoed the sentiment and describing President Obama’s seeming tactical gain this week in pushing back against war with Iran, she noted how he had nonetheless narrowed his future options: “Words matter, and I think that’s something that’s gotten entirely lost in the U.S. political discourse this time around.”