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Ex-ambassador says Israel must make Iran decision independently

February 4, 2014 at 11:00 am

A former US ambassador to the United Nations has said that Israel must make its own decision regarding an attack against Iran. John Bolton noted that it still has time if it wishes to act independently, but there is no guarantee about how long that might be.

“We hear constantly that all options are on the table,” said Bolton in an article for the Washington Times. “Unfortunately, this is a statement that the Obama administration itself does not really believe, that Tehran finds laughable and that [Israel] should ignore.”

According to neo-con Bolton, there are three principal reasons not to credit Obama’s assurances regarding the way to resolve the issue of Iran’s nuclear programme. For a start, he said that Obama’s natural inclination is not to use US force pre-emptively. Bolton compared Obama with Franklin Roosevelt when he attacked Nazi submarines in the North Atlantic, saying: “When you see a rattlesnake poised to strike, you do not wait until he has struck before you crush him.” Plainly, said Bolton, Obama is no Franklin Roosevelt. He attributes Obama’s reluctance to a lack of “domestic incentives” as his team does not think it is necessary for his re-election campaign. “Why take the risk? Once safely re-elected, he has absolutely no domestic political incentive to act,” he said.

The second reason, Bolton argues, is that Obama really does think that Iran can be contained and deterred, even though his advisers assert vigorously that containment is not their policy. This doesn’t help Israel: “Obama has created during his presidency the most antagonistic relationship ever between Israel and the White House,” claimed the ex-ambassador.

Finally, Bolton believes that time is on Iran’s side: “There is much about Iran’s nuclear programme we do not know, and what we do not know is almost certainly bad news.”

Bolton insists on the necessity for the US to take action against Iran. He acknowledged that there are internal Israeli divisions, but “everyone prefers that the US destroys Iran’s nuclear programme unilaterally, or at least takes the lead in a joint operation”. He said that this preference is understandable because of America’s military capabilities which would deter Iranian retaliation against Israel, either directly or more likely through Hezbollah and Hamas.