Benjamin Netanyahu was sworn in as Israel’s new prime minister today, and he was interviewed by the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg:
In an interview conducted shortly before he was sworn in today as prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu laid down a challenge for Barack Obama. The American president, he said, must stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons—and quickly—or an imperiled Israel may be forced to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities itself.
“The Obama presidency has two great missions: fixing the economy, and preventing Iran from gaining nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu told me. He said the Iranian nuclear challenge represents a “hinge of history” and added that “Western civilization” will have failed if Iran is allowed to develop nuclear weapons.
In unusually blunt language, Netanyahu said of the Iranian leadership, “You don’t want a messianic apocalyptic cult controlling atomic bombs. When the wide-eyed believer gets hold of the reins of power and the weapons of mass death, then the entire world should start worrying, and that is what is happening in Iran.”
History teaches Jews that threats against their collective existence should be taken seriously, and, if possible, preempted, he suggested.
I have to say that I agree with Netanyahu here, and that Obama cannot, under any circumstances, allow Iran to get a nuclear weapon. But Netanyahu’s unflinching focus on Iran is also extremely nerve generating. By calling Iran’s nuclear program a “hinge of history” Netanyahu is clearing signalling that Israel will not let that hinge swing in the wrong way. Period.
Thus we may be heading for a global-historic encounter between the West and Iran before the end of the year. Obama better hunker down and get focused on this.