Israel popped up at the end of Tuesday night’s town hall-style debate, when one audience member asked:
“If, despite your best diplomatic efforts, Iran attacks Israel, would you be willing to commit U.S. troops in support and defense of Israel? Or would you wait on approval from the U.N. Security Council?”
With all due respect to the questioner, there are much better/more relevant ways to measure each candidate’s support for Israel and the willingness to put U.S. troops at risk in defense of the Jewish state (not to mention their general views on securing U.N. authorization before American military action). Now, before I go on, it’s only fair to point out that during a previous Democratic primary debate, one of the highly paid professionals – ABC’s George Stephanopoulos – asked a similar and equally off-the-mark question to Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
The pressing question is not what a candidate would do after an Iranian attack on Israel, but what a candidate would do – or permit/help Israel do – to prevent an Iranian attack. For example, both Joe Biden and Sarah Palin have been asked in recent weeks the very relevant question of what an Obama or McCain administration would do if Israel decided to launch a preemptive strike against Iran. Of course, as I noted earlier, they both offered the same implausible answer: The United States needs to defer to Israel on such matters about its own security.
Why implausible? Because the United States controls Iraq’s air space and, depending on whom you believe, the fallout will include Iranian strikes against Western and oil-producing targets – so I think it’s safe to say that the next president will have some input on the decision-making process, probably long before any attack were ordered.
As for last night’s answers, read the transcript (second-to-last question) or watch the video:
If you happen to bump into either of the candidates, or will be posing the questions at the final debate, here’s what you can ask with regards to Iran:
* Senator McCain, why, if you favor stiffer international sanctions on Iran, have you not urged your fellow GOP senators to stop blocking such measures from being approved in the U.S. Senate?
* Senator Obama, your surrogates have been suggesting that when you talk about direct high-level talks with Iran, you don’t necessarily mean with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran’s Holocaust-denying president who continues to predict Israel’s downfall. Would you meet with him or not?