Historian Barbara Tuchman observed: “Confronted with menace, or what is perceived as menace, governments will usually attempt to smash it, rarely to examine it, understand it, define it.”
And so, Israeli officials publicly urge the U.S. to launch a war on Iran to prevent its possible development of a nuclear bomb. If the U.S. will not commit itself to doing this, Israel threatens to, itself, launch an attack.
Republican candidates for president, excluding Ron Paul, have publicly expressed their individual willingness, if elected, to do as Israel is urging. Romney, in obeisance to Israel, has even promised that Jerusalem will be the first world capital that he, as president, travels to.
Demonstrating his own political cowardice, President Obama has now publicly stated that Israel has the right to do what it thinks best, and that he will back them up. Charles Krauthammer (column, 3-9) expresses doubt that Obama means what he says.
Of course, what all these politicians are saying is needlessly alarmist. For a decade, U.S. officials worried about North Korea developing the bomb, until it actually did so in 2006. Since then, North Korea has mostly been out of the headlines. Israel’s nuclear stockpile is estimated at 75 to 200 warheads. Will Iran really attack Israel as soon as it has a bomb in hand?