Obama and Netanyahu Go to War

November 19, 2013 Topic: Domestic PoliticsPolitics Region: IsraelMiddle East

Obama and Netanyahu Go to War

A divergence deepens. How can Obama get the upper hand?

I don’t want the United States to get involved in another war in the Middle East. And I don’t think the American people want that either—absent some clear threat to the American national interest. My efforts are designed to head off such a threat to the American national interest, and thus to head off any likelihood that we will find ourselves drawn into another such war. We may not succeed, and America’s interests and the interests of the world may necessitate military action down the road. As I’ve said often, all options are on the table in our effort to ensure that Iran does not acquire nuclear weapons.

But we should work hard to avoid that. That’s why I would urge Americans from across the country to express their sentiments on this issue to their senators and their members of Congress. If they want this process to proceed in earnest and in good faith, they should let Washington know. If they favor all efforts designed to prevent war over this crucial matter, they should stand up and be counted. It seems that many forces in Washington don’t want to take into account the sentiments of the people at large, and so I am urging the people to express themselves to Washington, so there can be no mistake about what the American people want and where they stand.

Meanwhile, I will do all I can, in concert with the other national leaders involved in this process, to ensure that the effort proceeds to whatever conclusion the fates mete out.

Such an expression by the President would determine clearly if Israeli and American interests have diverged on the matter of policy toward Iran. And it has the virtue of not leaving the question of American interests in the hands of the Washington policy elites and members of Congress, so attuned as they are to the fund-raising game and the whirl of lobby pressures. It would ask instead for a muster of public sentiment from across the land, where civic judgment and wisdom actually reside. Then perhaps we could find out once and for all if Netanyahu was correct in his boast that he can always manipulate American action to his own proclivities whenever the spirit moves him.

Robert W. Merry is political editor of The National Interest and the author of books on American history and foreign policy. His most recent book is Where They Stand: The American Presidents in the Eyes of Voters and Historians.