The Obama administration’s point man on Iran’s nuclear weapons program, Gary Samore, said recently that Iran is a year away from having nuclear weapons. And, in an attempt to reassure us all -- Israel included -- that this isn’t so bad. Samore claims that “a year is a very long period of time.”
At nearly the same moment, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that the perennial talks between Israel and the Palestinians are set to begin anew; talks which would result in “the emergence of an independent, democratic and viable Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with Israel and its other neighbors." And, Secretary Clinton assures us, these talks “can be completed within one year.”
This fixation with a one-year timetable is not a coincidence. It’s the Obama administration’s plan to deal with Iran. They think the road to Tehran runs through Jerusalem.
The Obama administration, and the Bush administration before it, failed to derail Iran’s nuclear weapons program. So we’re now watching a train wreck in slow motion. The United States (and Israel) will have to come to grips, within the year, of either bombing Iran or letting Iran get the bomb. Either one will be a disaster.
If we (or Israel) bomb Iran, it will ignite a regional war, as Iran inevitably retaliates. It could do any or all of the following: give Hezbollah and Hamas the green light to launch their large stockpiles missiles on every square mile of Israel; unleash sleeper terrorist cells in Europe and the U.S.; and mine the Strait of Hormuz, through which 20 percent of all worldwide oil shipments flow. The price of oil would skyrocket to $400-500 a barrel overnight, and plunge the world into another, even more serious recession. At the same time, the world’s oil producing states would reap windfall profits.
The job of sweeping the Strait free of mines would fall to the U.S. Fifth Fleet in the Persian Gulf, thus drawing the U.S. into a third war in the region. And, as Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mullen has said, even a successful bombing raid on Iran’s nuclear sites wouldn’t stop their program, but only set it back a few years.
On the other hand, if we don’t stop Iran’s nuclear program, the entire Middle East will be swept into an arms race – a nuclear arms race. Neighboring Sunni Arab states will not stand idly by and let Shiite Persian Iran dominate the region. They will rush to "nuke up," too. The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty won’t be worth the paper it’s printed on - in the Middle East or anywhere else. And, if the single most volatile, dangerous part of the world is awash in nuclear weapons, it is only a matter of time before one gets detonated – accidentally, intentionally or inadvertently.
So, what’s the Obama administration’s plan to deal with these horrors? Officially, they say the military option remains on the table. But almost no one believes they mean it, least of all the nations in the region.
Instead, the administration thinks they can contain Iran, and manage the situation. First, they think if they extend America’s nuclear umbrella over the region, the Sunni states will no longer think it’s necessary to acquire their own nuclear weapons. And in the bizarre world of nuclear theory, the administration thinks Iran will be deterred from ever using its nuclear weapons by the threat that America might use its nuclear weapons in retaliation to an Iranian attack. This raises the question of how credible Obama’s promise to trade Tel Aviv for Texas might be, which is what extending the nuclear umbrella would mean.
The administration also plans, as one administration official told me, to force an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement and thereby "change the trajectory" in the Middle East away from war and towards peace and economic development. According to this plan, an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement would clock in just ahead of a nuclear Iran, and thereby make Iran, even a nuclear Iran, increasingly irrelevant in the region.
This raises the question of how easy it’s going to be to force the Israelis and Palestinians to reach an agreement that both sides would honor. It is an issue that has proved illusive since the creation of the Israeli state in 1948, and bedeviled the region for millennia. Secretary Clinton should know better than to predict an agreement in a year’s time. President Clinton came closest to forging a peace agreement and nearly succeeded, only to have the Palestinians renege in the 11th hour. And even if the administration were able to force an agreement, what guarantees are there that Hamas would honor any deal signed by its Palestinian adversary Fatah?
If containing a nuclear Iran is such a long shot -- as surely the administration must know even if officials won’t admit it publicly -- then why come out now with this one-year timetable and reassurances that a year is a long period of time? Because in the end, Team Obama thinks the greatest threat to peace in the region comes not from Iran, even a nuclear Iran, but from Israel and a pre-emptive attack on Iran’s nuclear sites.
Kathleen Troia "K.T." McFarland is a Fox News National Security Analyst, and host of FoxNews.com’s "DEFCON3." She attended a two semester course in Islam taught by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf at the Center for Religious Inquiry at St Bartholomew’s Church in Manhattan.
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