U.S. President Donald Trump’s last-minute decision to pull back from a retaliatory strike on Iran is nothing new in the annals of modern history.
According to former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, Benjamin Netanyahu was on the verge of attacking Iran three times between 2010 and 2012, but was blocked each time by other cabinet ministers or by the IDF chief of staff.
These attacks were planned for the most part before the Obama administration came into power; the Obama administration put an end to Israel’s plans to attack Iran. This may have been one of President Barack Obama’s most colossal mistakes.
On March 28, 2012, then-Defense Minister Barak publicly praised himself and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, 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 even reports that “friends of Obama” (namely Zbigniew Brzezinski, Jimmy Carter’s national security adviser) threatened Israel’s jets would be shot out of the sky if it tried to bomb Iranian nuclear facilities.
Although regime change and/or a vastly improved agreement with Iran on its nuclear program are the best options, neither appears to be realistic.
The limited U.S. strike against Iranian radar and missile installations that Trump called off would have sent a strong message, but one that unfortunately would have only fed into the Iranian narrative that America is the aggressor. They would not have forced the mullahs back to the negotiating table.
There is no question the Trump administration is giving the ayatollahs daily fits. They have been completely unnerved by Trump and National Security Advisor John Bolton. However, the mullahs are probably too smart for their own good. Their clear and calculated decision to shoot down a $120 million American UAV was designed to force America to retaliate. This would have played well for their audience the Iranian people, and their allies in the region.
Essentially, the president has only two real military options: Either he strikes all of the Iranian nuclear facilities in one major, thorough attack, or he does not strike at all. Anything short of a massive attack will be read the wrong way.
This is not to say that all diplomatic avenues shouldn’t be pursued, just that we are at an all-or-nothing military response stage. Anything short of total eradication of every nuclear facility in Iran will not stop the mullahs in their quest for nuclear weapons.
I have always believed in diplomacy first. The Obama agreement was not even a temporary solution for a very dangerous situation. America is running out of options, and Iran is running out of time.
Dr. Joseph Frager is first vice president of the National Council of Young Israel.