This week’s meeting between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu comes at a sensitive juncture—Middle East peace efforts remain largely stuck, Iran continues to move forward with its nuclear program, and the United States and Israel are looking to patch up their bilateral ties after one of the rockiest years in recent memory between the two countries. The fundamental goal of the meeting is to bring the two countries toward closer strategic alignment on these issues. Doing so will require both Obama and Netanyahu to learn lessons from the events of the past few months.
First, the latest round of United Nations, American, and European sanctions mark a new and sensitive phase on Iran policy, and there is deep uncertainty about what comes next. Yet while the United States and its allies cannot afford any surprises or miscalculations, the recent experience during the Gaza flotilla incident should provide reason for concern. The strategic blowback from that incident demonstrated the downsides of how Israel’s current government seeks to safeguard its security. One pressing question is what lessons Israel takes from the flotilla incident as both it and the United States consider their options on Iran. Regrettably, if Israel’s raid on the flotilla is an indicator of what can go wrong when Israel tries to secure its southern border, then the international community should be doubly concerned by any military action Israel might take against Iran.
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