In front of America’s Jews, Barack Obama pledged to hinder an Iranian nuclear bomb militarily if necessary, but not just yet.
On Sunday was perhaps one of the American president's most important political speeches at the moment, nationally as well as internationally. No address was observed with so much attention and suspense; it came down to every word and every gesture.
Barack Obama spoke to thousands of members and guests of the powerful American-Israeli lobby, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. It is election time and the Democrat is dependent upon the votes of American Jews for his re-election in November. They have voted primarily for Democrats for ages. After African Americans, American Jews are the most reliable group – 78 percent of them voted for Obama in 2008. Yet, a growing number of Obama’s supporters are dissatisfied. Above all, they entertain doubts about whether their president really stands as decisively at Israel’s side as the majority of his predecessors in the White House.
Obama’s supporters focus not only on the Palestinian question, but also on the threatening nuclear armament of Iran. They wanted to hear clear words and the unconditional message that he would use force to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran. This message came. Obama not only announced, as otherwise customary, that of course “all options” would remain on the table, all military ones are included. This time, he promised at the same time that his policy would not be geared toward “containment” of Iran, that is, not only at the containment of a possibly nuclear-armed Iran.
The Time for a Preventative Strike Has Not Yet Come
His goal, Obama said unequivocally, was to prevent the building and possession of a nuclear bomb, if necessary, with the deployment of the American army. “Iran's leaders should have no doubt about the resolve of the United States,” exclaimed the president. The AIPAC summit thanked him with a standing ovation. Just as clearly, however, America’s president shared with his listeners that the time for a preventative strike has not yet come.
Between the lines, he even strongly warned the Israeli government against that. An attack on Iranian atomic plants at the present time, said Obama, would strengthen the regime in Tehran and plunge the Middle East into chaos. “Already, there is too much loose talk of war,” warned the president and made a forceful appeal for first giving sanctions a chance. Never before has the international anti-Iran coalition been so unified and resolute. Never before have the economic, oil, and financial sanctions brought the Iranian government into such distress.
That was one half of the Obama message eight months before the presidential election. The other is a more domestic one: His current opponents would trip over each other with promises to Israel. Indeed, Republican candidates Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich vied with one another for who was the greatest friend of Israel. They promised to immediately pay a state visit to Israel if elected, to move America’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, “the undivided capital of Israel,” and to take a hard-nosed stance against the Palestinians. All three will appear at the AIPAC Conference and court votes. But Obama warned, “A man is judged by his deeds, not his words.”
Support of Israel is an Important Election Topic for Obama
For minutes afterward, he recounted the solidarity gifts of his government: more money for Israel than ever before and in spite of austerity measures; more military and espionage collaboration than under his predecessors in the White House; blocked votes in the United Nations when Israel was supposed to be taken to task; veto of Palestinian admission into the U.N., and so forth. Again, most of the AIPAC guests sprang from their seats and applauded. America’s Jews may sometimes be troubled by Obama, but a political earthquake would have to occur before their majority would refuse to give their allegiance to the Democrat in the White House.