Israel’s interception of Iranian arms bound for Gaza on Wednesday is a reminder of the ongoing threats the small nation faces on a daily basis. For Israelis, it’s all about survival in a region so hostile the threat of annihilation is a day-to-day reality. The U.S. continues to preach that threats to Israel are threats the U.S., but actions speak significantly louder than words, especially with an administration that continues to make weightless threats to our adversaries and empty promises to our allies.
U.S.-Israeli relations have been stronger, and in a time when regional threats to Israel are this significant, they must be stronger. On Tuesday at the annual AIPAC conference, Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu called Israel “the most threatened democracy on Earth.” He went on to say, “Iran continues to stand unabashedly on the wrong side of the moral divide. We must oppose Iran and stand up for what is right.” He continued, “The greatest threat to our common security (U.S. and Israel) is that of a nuclear armed Iran. We must prevent Iran from having the capability to make the weapon.”
In a volatile region that continues to be dangerously unpredictable, Israel cannot afford to wait until the 11th hour to react to a nuclear Iran. By then it is too late. Israel is a ‘one bomb country’ meaning one nuclear weapon is enough to obliterate the country and the state of Israel would cease to exist. Geographically, Israel cannot afford to be reactive to Iran’s nuclear advancements. Freezing Iran’s nuclear program is not enough. Iran must be stripped of the capability of producing a nuclear weapon.
Israel does not have the luxury of a two-ocean safety net the way the U.S. does. If need be, Israel will act in its best interest with or without U.S. consent. Israel understands the value of acting with the U.S. but when their national security is at stake, Israel will not wait for another nation’s approval when their citizens are at risk. “I’m charged with protecting the security of my people, the people of Israel. And I will never gamble with the security of the one and only Jewish state,” Netanyahu continued in his speech at AIPAC.
Instead of making small talk with Iran in the hope that they maintain their commitments in the nuclear deal, the U.S. must ensure that there are steps in place in the event the rogue nation does not. Iran is not a nation known for its keeping its promises, and hope is not a strategy. Iran’s goal of obtaining nuclear weapon status must remain in the forefront of our priorities, not only for our own national security, but for the survival of Israel as well.
The time for global leadership is now. Unfortunately, shrinking our military, drawing weightless red lines, and cutting our defense budget doesn’t exactly show the world that we are a force to be reckoned with. When it comes to foreign policy this administration has been leading from behind from day one of Obama’s presidency. Unfortunately his inaction and timid leadership has resulted in many of our adversaries breaking international law without regard for the consequences. We are not going to ‘wish’ ourselves out of Iran developing a nuclear bomb. This is the big leagues and it’s time the Obama administration started acting like they know what that means.
The Israeli people are full of optimism and hope for a secure and peaceful tomorrow, even in light of their misfortunes. The U.S. must reciprocate that optimism with strong support for Israel in all capacities, especially by ensuring Iran does not move forward with their nuclear program. We must not get so focused elsewhere in the world that we turn our back on one of our most trusted allies when they need us most.
Amber Barno is a Foreign Policy Senior Fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum and Military Advisor at Concerned Veterans for America. Amber is a former helicopter pilot in the Army with combat tours to Iraq and Afghanistan. For more information visit www.amberbarno.com. Follow Amber on Twitter.