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Tue Mar 6, 2012, 12:06 PM


Obama’s Flashing Red Light To Netanyahu On Iran [View all]

By Anne Penketh - 03/06/12 11:45 AM ET

Judging from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to the pro-Israel lobby group AIPAC last night, you would think that he received a green light from President Obama to attack Iran unilaterally.

My reading of their meeting at the White House yesterday was that although Obama recognizes Israel’s right to defend itself “by itself,” as he said in his own speech to AIPAC on Sunday, he is asking Netanyahu to hold fire. So in the terms of the driver’s manual, Obama has issued a flashing red signal. Not a green light. Not a flashing yellow light meaning proceed with caution. But a flashing red light that means: Come to a complete stop and proceed when the way is clear.

After much careful messaging since Sunday, in which Obama had urged more time for a diplomatic solution with Iran, while stating that a “military effort” is part of the contingency planning, Netanyahu was back off message last night, repeating that diplomacy hadn’t worked, sanctions wouldn’t work and time is running out to stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. He contradicted Obama, who earlier in the day had said that “both the prime minister and I prefer to resolve this diplomatically. We understand the costs of any military action.”

Netanyahu doesn’t have the strategic patience. “None of us can afford to wait much longer. As prime minister of Israel, I will never let my people live in the shadow of annihilation,” he said, invoking memories of the Holocaust.



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