Suez 2.0

Why no universal outrage over the revelation today that the Israeli military undertook a military exercise earlier in the month which the NY Times describes as a "rehearsal" for an attack on Iran? It reminds me of the spring and summer of 1914, when all the great powers carried out their own meretricious military exercises as a way of guaranteeing peace. Here's what our "friends", the Israelis, have been up in the Eastern Mediterranean:

More than 100 Israeli F-16 and F-15 fighters participated in the maneuvers, which were carried out over the eastern Mediterranean and over Greece during the first week of June, American officials said.
The exercise also included Israeli helicopters that could be used to rescue downed pilots. The helicopters and refueling tankers flew more than 900 miles, which is about the same distance between Israel and Iran’s uranium enrichment plant at Natanz, American officials said.

Even if Iran really is developing a nuclear weapons program, an Israeli action attack on Iran is entirely illegal -- in moral terms as well as in every conceivable context of international law. This is a United Nations issue and Israel has neither the right nor the mandate to act as the world's policeman. Nor does their argument about self-protection make any sense. The Iranians know that a nuclear attack on Israel would result in the leveling of Iran and the death of most of its 70 million people. There is no evidence at all that Iran is a suicide nation. Indeed,it's been centuries since Iran/Persia even invaded a foreign country.

It's worth extending the 1914 analogy. In 1914, after the Sarajevo assassination, the German's were unable to control Habsburg Austria, their junior alliance partner. The result was the Habsburg ultimatum of July 23rd against Serbia which made a European war inevitable. A weak, distracted America -- with a lame duck President and a failing economy -- is clearly incapable of managing Israel, its junior partner. I'm not suggesting that we are on the brink of World War Three. But an Israeli attack on Iran would be the most inflammatory event in the Middle East since Suez. It would be a significantly more disastrous historical event than the US invasion of Iraq. And it might well lead a conventional war between Iran and Israel as well as almost inevitably lead to war in southern Lebanon.

Where's Mr "politics of change" Obama on this one? If he's got any moral gumption or sense of historical responsibility, he would assert American authority in managing its troublesome junior ally in the Middle East. But I somehow doubt he'll even offer the faintest criticism of Israel. The Mearsheimer/Walt lobby would explain Obama's failure to speak out in terms of winning Florida, AIPAC etc etc. But this should go beyond the voting intentions of little old ladies in Miami. It needs to be about America's responsibility to manage an international system of their own making. It's about protecting world peace.