Aikins: Will Obama be successful in convincing Netanyahu not to strike Iran?
Obama doesn't need to convince Netanyahu not to strike Iran, because
the Israeli prime minister does not intend to do so. All of this talk
of a strike--which has been repeated again and again over the last
five years--is rhetorical posturing for political ends. Perpetually
seeming on the brink of war is a useful way for Netanyahu to push the
US to stay bellicose on Iran, to put the Iranians on the defensive,
and perhaps most importantly, to take international pressure off the
unresolved issues of the Occupied Territories (which are far more
relevant to Israel's national interests.) Of course, all of this
theater plays well to his domestic constituency.
Ultimately, though, Israel has a rational, if aggressive, foreign
policy. The consensus among its national security establishment seems
to be the same as that of the US — that the costs and risks of a
unilateral Israeli military strike on Iran would outweigh the dubious
benefits. Netanyahu may very well like the US to take military action
against Iran, but until that scenario becomes plausible, he will play
for time and step up pressure with more belligerent rhetoric.