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Clarity on Iran

Israeli Prime Minister BenjamNetanyahu seen addressing Knesset last year has not taken positiunilateral strategy end stalemate negotiations with Palestinians.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, seen addressing the Knesset last year, has not taken a position on a unilateral strategy to end the stalemate in negotiations with the Palestinians. | Sebastian Scheiner~AP

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Updated: October 27, 2012 6:16AM

On the world stage at a meeting of the United Nations, President Barack Obama again on Tuesday warned in the clearest terms that the United States will never allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon.

Our nation, the president said, will do “what we must.”

That reassurance surely did not satisfy Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has all but taken sides in the United States presidential election in his effort to squeeze an even more definitive commitment out of Obama. Nor did the president’s words satisfy his Republican opponent, Gov. Mitt Romney, who agrees with Netanyahu that the United States should establish a highly specific “red line” that, if crossed by Iran, would trigger an American attack.

But Obama is reading the Iranian threat and the American people right. Americans are worn out by war, especially premature ones. The hard work of international economic sanctions and diplomacy must be allowed to play out fully before one more American soldier is asked to risk his life in yet another conflict abroad — one that could have disastrous unforeseen consequences for Israel and the U.S.

A regional war could break out. Iranian society, now deeply divided politically, would rally around the current reactionary leadership. Iran might call on its proxy, Hezbollah, to launch a counter-attack.

Netanyahu fears the United States is following a dangerously slower clock with respect to the Iranian threat, with the White House reluctant to make another move until after the November election. But other voices in Israel, including dozens of former military leaders, call for greater patience, warning against a premature strike. Recent empty and frustrated threats by Iran that they might launch a pre-emptive strike of their own on Israel would seem to suggest the sanctions and diplomatic pressure are having an effect.

Obama has shown no reluctance to employ military force when necessary to further or protect American interests. Iran would be foolish to doubt the president’s resolve now.

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