Obama beat Bibi?
President Obama talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on March 5. Photo: Getty Images
It's on page A9 of The New York Times. "Netanyahu Appears To Be Shifting Israel's Iran Policy Toward More Sanctions." The story appears to confirm a policy shift. It begins by noting that the Israeli Prime Minister plans to visit Europe late in the year to press for tighter EU sanctions against Iran. And it suggests that the time-frame for a possible Israeli strike against the country is not in the cards until at least mid-2013. That is, as the article notes, well after the U.S. election.
This means two things. Netanyahu lacks either the political credibility to strike Iran right now, that he lacks the resolve to do it without U.S. support, and that the sanctions appear to be working, insofar as they are giving the international community more time. The article suggests that Ehud Barak, the Israeli Defense Minister, has turned sharply away from the idea of a unilateral strike, convinced that maintaining a good relationship with the United States is a better guarantor of a nuclear-free Iran than anything Israel might do. Coincidentally, on page A8 of the Times, an article describes the astonishing 40 percent drop on the price of Iran's currency and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's pleas to his countryfolk not to trade their own money for dollars.
Also: President Obama's approach to Iran, messy as it may be, is bearing fruit. Iran is in chaos, and the world is following the lead of the United States. Bibi's bluster didn't work. Headed into next week's foreign policy debate, when Mitt Romney is sure to criticize Obama for the chaos in the Middle East and North Africa, Obama will have a clear (and partial) rebuttal at the ready.
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