The Price of Security

Obama's Eye for an Eye: Jerusalem for No Iranian Nukes—David Frum

Here are four messages from Obama's AIPAC speech:

(1) President Obama telegraphed the deal he is offering the Iranians. Notice how often he repeated the term "nuclear weapon." Israelis worry less about an Iranian weapon per se than an Iranian nuclear capability—the last step before a weapon.

Obama seemed to suggest that he's proposing to the Iranians: halt at the nuclear threshold and we'll relax the sanctions against you. That's quite a good deal from an Iranian point of view, but...

(2) Despite repeating the merit of diplomacy, Obama did not seem highly optimistic that diplomacy would work. He also showed himself profoundly averse to military methods. Which leaves...

(3) "All instrumentalities of national power," ie, covert operations. The best news for friends of Israel in the AIPAC speech is that Obama shares the alarmist view of an Iranian nuclear weapon. He does not agree with those who say that fear of an Iranian bomb is some "Israel First" strategy. He explicitly rejected "containment" of a nuclear Iran. If Iran won't bargain, and the US does not want a fight, then we are probably going to continue to see explosions at Iranian nuclear facilities, cyber-viruses attacking Iranian computer systems, and more lethal accidents befalling Iranian nuclear scientists.

(4) If the president has gravitated closer to the Israeli view of Iran since 2009, he remains far distant on the question of Jerusalem and peace negotiations with the Palestinians. Obama repeatedly stressed that an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement must respect the Jewish character of Israel and uphold Israeli security concerns. Not a word about Jerusalem—very unlike his speech to AIPAC in 2008, which promised an "undivided" Jerusalem and which was walked back by the Obama campaign within 24 hours. Obama seems to be preparing Israel and AIPAC for his view that a big slice of Jerusalem is the price he wishes Israel to pay for a forward American lean against an Iranian bomb.