He Burned the Broth

Despite his eloquence, despite his strong and unambiguous case, Netanyahu's personality lacks the leadership factor. Only a person blessed with this factor can create a deterrent coalition against Iran.

It is almost certain that we are not witness to the greatest fraud of all time, or even an unparalleled case of brinkmanship. Rather, there will be one outcome of the shrill squabble between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Barack Obama, a squabble that more than anything shows a loss of self-confidence: Israel will not bomb Iran. Certainly America will not. And Iran will build its bomb and launch a major geostrategic revolution in the region and far beyond it.

Obama is not the main culprit. Neither is Europe's hypocrisy and feebleness. Not even the ads taken out by Israeli paragons of morality and conscience are responsible for the Israel Air Force not taking off.

One person, Netanyahu, is responsible. And he must give an accounting and say to himself: I, who more than anyone understands what we may expect if Iran gets the bomb; I, who was responsible for making sure this never happens; I, who made clear to the world that I would prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons even if we had to embark alone on a military operation - have burned the broth. My conduct, both domestically and externally, led to the trap that now prevents me from ordering a military operation, the only operation that can save the Israeli people from the fate that, to the best of my belief, can be expected if Iran gets the bomb.

One of the greatest mistakes in managing this campaign was the public way - on and on ad nauseum - that Netanyahu conducted his campaign of pressure (on Obama ) and threats (on Iran ). Despite his eloquence, despite his strong and unambiguous case, Netanyahu's personality lacks the leadership factor. Only a person blessed with this factor can create a reliable and truly deterrent international coalition against Iran.

The persistent raised voices emphasize this shortcoming, instead of dignified restraint, which would show strong nerves. (Still, no new elements can be added to the public debate. ) The unceasing cry-wolf warnings have dissolved the national readiness and led to the trivialization of the debate when the situation is far from trivial.

The fact that the issue was kept so much in the limelight undermined its seriousness. Even the journalist who is flattered by the invitation to a "private" discussion with Netanyahu or Defense Minister Ehud Barak understands that briefings for purposes of persuasion stem from a lack of confidence by the person giving the briefing.

After all, in such matters, all precedents say, first you carry out the mission and then you explain it. Menachem Begin did not openly discuss the bombing of the Iraqi reactor, and to this day Ehud Olmert does not officially discuss the destruction of the Syrian reactor. And we are in greater danger of retaliation from Syria than from Iran. Thousands of missiles are aimed at our cities and strategic infrastructure, including missiles with chemical and biological warheads.

Of all things, Netanyahu's strong suit, his rhetorical skills, were his downfall. If he had worked in secret, as his predecessors did, the strategic as well as the diplomatic effect would have been tremendous. The American government would not have been forced to come out publicly and harshly against an Israeli operation. And the ever-loyal Barak would not have had to seek a way out of the stew of which he was one of the chief cooks.

What would Obama's response (and the world's ) be to a surprise Israeli operation? Let's remember that then-opposition leader Shimon Peres wrote to Begin that if we bombed Iraq we would find ourself alone. In fact, Israel, which did the unbelievable, was perceived as unvanquishable. And America, as we know, loves (and respects ) Israel when it is bold and victorious.