President Trump’s last-minute decision to pull back from a retaliatory strike on Iran is not new in the annals of modern history.
According to former Prime Minister and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Benjamin Netanyahu was on the verge of attacking Iran three times between 2010-2012 but was constantly blocked by other cabinet ministers or by the military chief of staff.
These attacks were planned for the most part before the Obama administration came into power. As a matter of fact, the Obama administration put an end to Israel’s plans to attack Iran. This may have been one of President Obama’s most colossal mistakes. On March 28, 2012, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak publicly praised himself and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta by saying, “The decision [to cancel the attack] was the result of contacts between the [Israeli] Defense Ministry and the Pentagon.”
During the Obama years, Israel was prevented from attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities. There were reports that Israel was threatened by friends of Obama (namely former Carter NSA Zbigniew Brzezinski) that their jets would be shot out of the sky if Israel tried to bomb the Iranian nuclear facilities.
Although regime change and/or a vastly improved agreement with Iran on prevention of nuclear weapons are the best options, neither one appears to be easily forthcoming or realistic.
A limited strike by America against radar and missile installations that was planned and would have sent a strong message would unfortunately only have fed into the Iranian narrative that America is the aggressor, and not force the mullahs to sit down and negotiate a new agreement.
There is no question the Trump administration is giving the ayatollahs daily fits. They have been completely unnerved by President Trump and NSA John Bolton.
However, the mullahs are probably too smart for their own good. Their clear and calculated decision to shoot down a $123 million American drone was done to not only rattle their own sabres but force America to retaliate. Once again, this would play well for their audience – the Iranian people and their allies in the region.
It essentially means that the president has only one type of military option. Either he strikes all of the Iranian nuclear facilities in one major thorough and complete attack or he does not strike at all. Anything short of a massive attack will be read the wrong way.
I am not saying that all diplomatic options shouldn’t be tried and pursued. I am simply saying that we are at an all-or-none military response stage. Anything short of total eradication of every nuclear facility in Iran would not stop the mullahs in their quest for nuclear weapons.
I have always believed in diplomacy first. The Obama agreement was not even a Band-Aid on a very dangerous situation. America is running out of options and Iran is running out of time.
By Joseph M. Frager
Joseph M. Frager is a physician and lifelong activist.