Friday, May 11, 2012
On Israel and Iran
Charles Krauthammer hits it out of the park with his latest Washington Post essay, comparing Israel's security situation now to that just before the Six-Day War in 1967.
It's a simple comparison to make. Israel faced an existential threat then (from Egypt's Nasser, threatening to destroy Israel and making it clear that he had the means to do so), as now (Iran's Ahmadinejad, ditto). And then, as now, Israel responded to a looming threat with an interesting political move -- the establishment of a National Unity Government by inviting in the opposition. (Imagine if, in response to the threat of war, President Obama were to appoint Republican party leaders to key Cabinet positions. Yes, this is a big deal.)
But Krauthammer goes on to point out that Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu has done this when he had a powerful incentive not to. Negotiations had already been underway to advance early elections -- far from unheard of in Israeli politics -- with the expectation that Netanyahu's Likud would win those elections handily. So why would Netanyahu turn down a chance for an easy election and four more years in power?
Because, as Prime Minister Eshkol understood in 1967, and as Ariel Sharon advocated more recently, at a time of national emergency you want as broad a base as possible. Israel's Knesset now represents an astonishing 78% of voters... and Israel's government, for now at least, is on the same page vis-a-vis Iran.
Prime Minister Menachem Begin didn't do this when he ordered the destruction of Saddam's nuclear reactors in 1981, just weeks before a national election. It was difficult not to see this as a cynical political move, intended to guarantee re-election, and Begin took a lot of heat for that. But Netanyahu now has the country behind him, tangibly and dramatically -- and he did so in a way that was obviously not a re-election ploy.
Further, since the mandate of the current coalition expires in 18 months, we can expect some sort of resolution of Iranian nuclear ambitions before then.
Israel -- and her allies and supporters worldwide -- can take heart, knowing that the man leading Israel is a brave and clever man who knows exactly what he's doing -- and who has demonstrated that Israel's survival is more important to him than his political career.
Read the whole thing.
(Hat tip: Power Line.)