Yes, Obama can
The key to preventing disaster is not in the IDF chief of staff's hands but in the hands of the U.S. president.
Anyone who didn't understand it last summer understands it this summer. The likelihood of Israel attacking Iran's nuclear facilities is rising steadily. In the winter we hoped the sanctions would stop Iran. They didn't.
In the spring we hoped the diplomatic talks would stop Iran. They didn't. At the beginning of the summer we waited for Mitt Romney's visit. Romney left.
Now we're waiting for the end of the Olympic Games. They will end in 10 days.
So when the children return from their vacation at the end of August, we will all be entering the high-risk zone. It is possible that ultimately nothing will happen. Just as no political tsunami occurred at the end of Summer 2011, no strategic tsunami will occur at the end of Summer 2012.
But perhaps something will happen. Foreign observers now say the likelihood of Israel's striking Iran this year is higher than 25 percent.
Israel could strike Iran for several reasons - its leaders' resolve to prevent a second Holocaust; the combatants' capability of giving Israel's leaders a sense of power; Iran's technological success, which has almost turned it into a threshold nuclear power; Iran's success in shielding its nuclear facilities, which will soon make it immune to Israeli attack. But the decisive reason for a possible Israeli attack on Iran is the West.
For 10 years the West has displayed a baffling sluggishness in its regard to the Islamic republic's nuclear program. Time and again the West has failed to deal with the Iranian apocalypse-seekers who are equipping themselves with apocalyptic weapons. So Israel sees the West as a flimsy, untrustworthy party. Jerusalem's assessment is that Washington will not stop Natanz this year, or next year, or the year after next. What happened in the 1930s will happen here now. The West will display sympathy toward Czechoslovakia, wave goodbye to it and let it sink into the abyss.
Israelis who fear an Israeli strike in Iran are counting on Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz and the IDF top brass. They expect senior IDF officers and senior civil servants to thwart the high-risk operation that the prime minister and defense minister are planning. This expectation is undemocratic. It solicits the senior command to generate a military coup against an elected government. It is also irresponsible. The Iran problem is real and anyone suggesting not to solve it by an Israeli strike must propose how it can be solved.
From both the democratic and substantive standpoint, IDF headquarters is not the address. The White House is. The key to preventing disaster is not in the chief of staff's hands but in the hands of the U.S. president.
Barack Obama is a brilliant orator. Obama has made quite a few exemplary speeches both as presidential candidate and as president. But the American president's most important speech is the one he has not made so far - the Iran speech. A speech in which the leader of the free world pledges in pubilc that the free world will prevent Iran from obtaining military nuclear ability - at any price. A speech in which the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff says that if the sanctions don't stop Iran, America's military power will.
A speech in which the U.S. president stands before the citizens of the United States and its allies and says - it's on me. I will not ignore your existential needs nor abandon our strategic interests, nor let Iran become a nuclear power. In my name and in the name of Mitt Romney and the bipartisan leadership, I hereby pledge that in the course of 2013 America will paralyze the Iranian centrifuges that could bring an historic catastrophe on us all.
If Obama delivers an Iran speech in this spirit in the coming weeks, he will vindicate himself. He will prevent an Israeli strike, send a powerful message to the Iranians and establish his status as a world leader. His election for a second term will be almost certain.
But if Obama buries his head in the sand even now, he will be taking on a chilling risk. One morning he may wake up to discover the Middle East is going up in flames and the United States is submerged in serious trouble.