President Barack Obama may be forced to drag the United States into another war in the Middle East. As the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq come to a close, there has been a new discussion in the mainstream media on a potential war between Israel and Iran; a war the U.S. could not remain neutral in.
According to the Washington Post, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta believes “there is a strong likelihood that Israel will strike Iran in April, May or June—before Iran enters what Israelis described as a “zone of immunity” to commence building a nuclear bomb.”
Within a few months, Iran could potentially have stored enough enriched uranium to build a nuclear weapon, despite Iranian claims that the nuclear program is solely for a civilian nuclear power plant.
Israel may intend to perform a pre-emptive strike against Iranian nuclear facilities before they reach this capacity. If Iran gains nuclear weapons, Israel would not have the military strength to defend itself and would be forced to rely on the U.S. for military support.
Israel Defense Minister Ehud Barak stated, “The Iranians are, after all, a nation whose leaders have set themselves a strategic goal of wiping Israel off the map.”
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei suggested that Iran would increase its support of terrorist organizations that target the U.S. and Israel.
He stated, “From now on, in any place, if any nation or any group confronts the Zionist regime, we will endorse and we will help. We have no fear expressing this.”
Tensions have escalated from the assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists. Since 2007, there have been six assassinations; the most recent occurred on Jan. 11. Iran believes the U.S. and Israel are behind the attacks, but both nations deny the allegations.
European nations and the U.S. have already passed aggressive sanctions against Iran’s Central Bank and Iranian oil in response to the nuclear program. Iran responded by threatening to close the Strait of Hormuz, a waterway that carries one-third of the world’s oil.
Israel’s Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon stated that “Our policy is that in one way or another, Iran’s nuclear program must be stopped. It is a matter of months before the Iranians will be able to attain military nuclear capability. Israel should not have to lead the struggle against Iran. It is up to the international community to confront the regime, but nevertheless Israel has to be ready to defend itself. And we are prepared to defend ourselves, in any way and anywhere that we see fit.”
Obama has called for Israel to return to their 1967 borders and demanded they listen to Palestinian demands; however, this has only increased tension between the U.S. and Israel. Whatever happens, the U.S. is too involved in this conflict to remain silent during it.