Benny Morris is the well-known Israeli historian and man of the left. His Los Angeles Times column “When Armageddon lives next door” addresses the threat to Israel posed by Iran’s nuclear program. On America’s opposition to an Israeli attack on the program, Morris writes:
Obama insists that Israel may not launch a preemptive military strike of its own. Give sanctions a chance, he says. (Last year he argued that diplomacy and “engagement” with Tehran should be given a chance. Tehran wasn’t impressed then and isn’t impressed now.) The problem is that even if severe sanctions are imposed, they likely won’t have time to have serious effect before Iran succeeds at making a bomb.
Obama is, no doubt, well aware of this asymmetric timetable. Which makes his prohibition against an Israeli preemptive strike all the more immoral. He knows that any sanctions he manages to orchestrate will not stop the Iranians. (Indeed, Ahmadinejad last week said sanctions would only fortify Iran’s resolve and consolidate its technological prowess.) Obama is effectively denying Israel the right to self-defense when it is not his, or America’s, life that is on the line.
Perhaps Obama has privately resigned himself to Iran’s nuclear ambitions and believes, or hopes, that deterrence will prevent Tehran from unleashing its nuclear arsenal. But what if deterrence won’t do the trick? What if the mullahs, believing they are carrying out Allah’s will and enjoy divine protection, are undeterred?
At one time Morris was something of a peacenik; in 1988 he spent three weeks in jail for refusing to serve in the West Bank. Morris’s column is a striking cri de coeur protesting the Obama administration’s complacency regarding Iran’s nuclear program and the threat it poses to Israel’s survival.