Wednesday, September 4, 2013

THe US Message

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

US Secretary of State John Kerry testified before a Senate hearing yesterday.

Kerry explained that people in the (Mid East) region are watching what the US does concerning Syria. He said that America's friends such as Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon and Israel are watching the US to see if and whether we will act and if our word is our word.

And yesterday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the same thing in no uncertain terms when speaking to the same committee. He said the credibility of the US regarding Iran is at stake. He said: "A refusal to act would undermine the credibility of America's other security commitments - including the president's commitment to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon."

More specifically, Israel gets it. Israel understands, now more than ever, that the rhetoric of US action under this presidency is actually a process and it requires an evaluation and then a decision and then maybe a symbolic gesture. Gaining that understanding was an important lesson for Israel.

And Israel now has confirmed for itself that, with regard to Iran, US rhetoric might be good - but US action will be very slow. Israel knows full well now that they are alone in action and that they can expect only back-up from the United States.

When it comes to Iran, Israel will make operational decisions in seconds while the US will involve itself in briefings and discussions that last for weeks. Israel will still need to get the green light for any operation from the US, but it will not be a joint operation.

But - this should not come as any real surprise to anyone. Except, maybe, to President Obama. 

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