Foreign leaders donít cast a vote in American elections. But they do have the opportunity to influence the outcome.
In the case of the showdown over Iranís nuclear program, both Iran and Israel are closely watching the U.S. election. Their actions in the coming months and their calculations about President Obamaís reelection chances will undoubtedly help determine the outcome.
Hereís the way I look at it. The Obama administration wants quiet on the foreign-policy front before Nov. 6. Two wars are being wound down and the administration is averse to a third with particularly unpredictable consequences. So from there to believing that Obamaís reelection chances could be scuttled by Israeli strikes against Iran is just a short step. Cue visit by the national security adviser, Tom Donilon, to plead with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu against acting any time soon.
U.S. intelligence leaders said on Capitol Hill last week that the Israeli government has not yet decided whether to carry out military strikes on Iran. I believe that the Israeli calculation will have as much to do with the U.S. presidential election as to the much-discussed window of opportunity based on Iranís uranium enrichment program. And that political determination has not yet been made by Israel, even though Netanyahu has hardly bothered to conceal his preference for anyone-but-Obama.