Bloomberg View’s Jeffrey Goldberg writes that President Obama has been saying the right things on Iran. But, he argues, Obama has failed to persuade Israelis that he will actually do what it takes to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons, which is why Israel is considering its own military strike.
So how can Obama get his message across?
A visit to Israel would do more to delay a strike on Iran than any other step the administration could take. The beauty of this idea is that Obama won’t have to say anything new. He’s on record explaining why the idea of containing a nuclear Iran isn’t an option; he’s on record promising to stop Iran by whatever means necessary; and he’s on record explaining why a nuclear-free Iran is in the interests of the U.S.
“If Iran gets a nuclear weapon, this would run completely contrary to my policies of nonproliferation,” he told me in an interview this year.
When I asked him what his position would be if Israel were not in the picture, he answered: “It would still be a profound national-security interest of the United States to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.”
These words, delivered in the Oval Office, are powerful. But delivered in Jerusalem, before the Knesset, they would deeply reassure the prime minister and the Israeli public. What could be more effective than the U.S. president explaining to Israelis, in Israel, that their two countries share the same interests?
Yes, Obama is running for re-election, and it is hard to leave Ohio and Florida. But a trip to Israel — a place he hasn’t visited as president — would put Iran on notice that Obama is deadly serious about thwarting their plans. Combined with stops in Jordan and Saudi Arabia, such a visit would also allay the fears of our Arab allies. Most important, such a visit could prevent war. Which, of course, is a very presidential thing to do.