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Abject Surrender by the United States

What does Israel do now?

8:50 AM, Nov 24, 2013 • By JOHN BOLTON
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Moreover, the international climate of opinion against a strike will only harden during the next six months. Capitalizing on the deal, Iran’s best strategy is to accelerate the apparent pace of rapprochement with the all-too-eager West. The further and faster Iran can move, still making only superficial, easily reversible concessions in exchange for dismantling the sanctions regime, the greater the international pressure against Israel using military force. Iran will not suddenly, Ahmadinejad-style, openly defy Washington or Jerusalem and trumpet cheating and violations. Instead, Tehran will go to extraordinary lengths to conceal its activities, working for example in new or unknown facilities and with North Korea, or shaving its compliance around the edges.   The more time that passes, the harder it will be for Israel to deliver a blow that substantially retards the Iranian program.

Undoubtedly, an Israeli strike during the interim deal would be greeted with outrage from all the expected circles.  But that same outrage, or more, would also come further down the road.  In short, measured against the expected reaction even in friendly capitals, there is never a “good” time for an Israeli strike, only bad and worse times.  Accordingly, the Geneva deal does not change Israel’s strategic calculus even slightly, unless the Netanyahu government itself falls prey to the psychological warfare successfully waged so far by the ayatollahs. That we will know only as the days unfold.

Israel still must make the extremely difficult judgment whether it will stand by as Iran maneuvers effortlessly around a feckless and weak White House, bolstering its economic situation while still making progress on the nuclear front, perhaps less progress on some aspects of its nuclear work than before the deal, but more on others.

And what can critics of the Geneva deal, in Washington and other Western capitals, do? They can try to advance the sanctions legislation pending in the Senate over administration objections, for the political symbolism if nothing else. Unfortunately, they’re unlikely to succeed over the administration’s near-certain opposition. Tehran judges correctly that they have Obama obediently moving in their direction, with the European Union straining at the bit for still-more relaxation of the sanctions regimes.

Instead, those opposing Obama’s “Munich moment” in Geneva (to borrow a Kerry phrase from the Syrian crisis), should focus on the larger and more permanent strategic problem: A terrorist, nuclear Iran still threatens American interests and allies, and almost certainly means widespread nuclear proliferation across the Middle East. A nuclear Iran would also be essentially invulnerable, providing a refuge that al Qaeda leaders hiding in Afghan and Pakistani caves could only dream of.

So in truth, an Israeli military strike is the only way to avoid Tehran’s otherwise inevitable march to nuclear weapons, and the proliferation that will surely follow. Making the case for Israel’s exercise of its legitimate right of self-defense has therefore never been more politically important. Whether they are celebrating in Tehran or in Jerusalem a year from now may well depend on how the opponents of the deal in Washington conduct themselves.

John Bolton, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in 2005-06.

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