For all the talk in Washington of solidarity with Israel on Iran, jumping to Israel’s aid in a preemptive strike would clearly violate international and US law. Obama must tell Israel that only self-defense against an armed attack would trigger American participation.
Before responding affirmatively, American policymakers should consider a word that has rarely appeared in the public debates on Iran or in the media. That word is 'law': international law and US law.
During the meeting of the pro-Israel lobbying group, AIPAC, earlier this month, Republican senators and presidential candidates fell over themselves in calling for US solidarity with Israel should it launch a preemptive strike on Iran.
OPINION: 3 reasons not to attack Iran
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell promised to introduce authorization for the use of “overwhelming military force” against Iran if American intelligence shows that Tehran has decided to build a nuclear weapon or it has started to enrich uranium to weapons-grade level. In a March 5 Washington Post op-ed, Mitt Romney hinted that as president he would use military force if Iran acquires a nuclear weapon.
In his remarks to the pro-Israel gathering, President Obama observed that “there is too much loose talk of war” and stated his preference for diplomacy. Yet he felt compelled to declare “I will take no options off the table,” including “a military effort.” Absent from his speech was a clear statement of what it would take to trigger such an effort. What “red line” would have to be crossed?