According to today’s New York Times:
“With Israel openly debating whether to strike at Iran’s nuclear facilities in the coming months, the Obama administration is moving ahead with a range of steps short of war that it hopes will forestall an Israeli attack, while forcing the Iranians to take more seriously negotiations that are all but stalemated.”
The articles then goes on to describe what these moves would entail:
“Already planned are naval exercises and new antimissile systems in the Persian Gulf, and a more forceful clamping down on Iranian oil revenue. The administration is also considering new declarations by President Obama about what might bring about American military action, as well as covert activities that have been previously considered and rejected.”
The biggest winner of this new development is Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Netanyahu can now successfully claim that Obama’s new promises to clearly spell out “what might bring about American military action” as well as resumption of covert activities by the U.S are all because of his threats to attack Iran. That if it weren’t for his threats, Obama would never have agreed to consider these new steps.
This is very likely to strengthen Netanyahu’s position at home among his supporters.
It also means that Netanyahu is likely to increase the volume and frequency of his threats against Iran since they clearly bring him tangible political benefits. With one year to go before the next Israeli elections and with Israel’s economy slowing, this is one pony trick which Netanyahu is likely to keep using for the foreseeable future.
Netanyahu is a clearly a master at understanding and playing U.S politics.
The question remains: can Obama increase the level of threat and isolation against Iran without pushing up oil prices and without driving the Russians and the Chinese away from the P5+1?
The answer is likely to be yes, but with much diplomatic effort and help from the Saudis who are likely to be as happy as the Israeli government about these new developments, if not more.