Members of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee have adopted Senate Resolution 65, which lends unconditional support to Israel should the Netanyahu government decide to conduct a military strike against Iran. Critics worry that the recent vote gives carte blanche to a government that has escalated hostile rhetoric in recent months, threatening a regional war that top military experts believe could necessitate an invasion requiring several hundred thousand U.S. troops.
“The Obama presidency has two great missions: fixing the economy, and preventing Iran from gaining nuclear weapons,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a 2009 statement. This hardline stance against any Iranian nuclear enrichment has largely informed U.S. policy in recent years.
The resolution, sponsored by Senators Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), was passed as a means to deter any Iranian nuclear aspirations, and gained support from 70 of the 100 Senators.
The resolution was applauded in an online statement by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the largest right-wing pro-Israel advocacy group, stating, “The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has sent a very clear and enormously important message of solidarity with Israel against the Iranian nuclear threat — which endangers American, Israeli and international security.”
This position stands in opposition to the majority of citizens in Arab-majority countries, who tend to view Israel and the U.S., not Iran, as the main threats to regional stability. According to a 2010 survey by the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies, 73 percent of respondents believe Israel and the U.S. are the two countries presenting the largest threat to the security of the Arab world, with 51 percent believing that Israel by itself is the most threatening. Just 5 percent of the 16,173 surveyed believed Iran to be the country most threatening to security in the region.
Many politicians and military experts have cautioned against any hostile action against Iran, urging the president to negotiate directly with Tehran and avoid another costly war.
Toward this end, 35 prominent former diplomats, military officers and other officials from both political parties issued a report last year urging President Obama to renew diplomatic efforts to defuse the crisis. The officials, all members of the Iran Project advocacy group, wrote:
“The United States should now dedicate as much energy and creativity to negotiating directly with Iran as it has to assembling a broad international coalition to pressure and isolate Iran … Only by taking such a rebalanced approach might the United States achieve its objectives with respect to Iran’s nuclear program.”
The group, led by former Republican Senator Richard Lugar, former CIA Director Michael Hayden, former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq and Afghanistan Ryan Crocker, as well as former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, together stated that any U.S. war aimed at ending Iranian nuclear enrichment would require a massive military buildup. The 2012 report went on:
“Given Iran’s large size and population, and the strength of Iranian nationalism, we estimate that the occupation of Iran would require a commitment of resources and personnel greater than what the U.S. has expended over the past 10 years in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined.”
Talks have failed to produce a compromise, but have continued bringing the U.S., Russia, China, the U.K., France and Germany — known as the “P5+1” — into negotiations with Iran. The most recent round, which took place earlier this month in Almaty, Kazakhstan, yielded no significant breakthroughs.
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