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Dr. Charles G. Cogan Headshot

Your Red Lines Are Not Our Red Lines

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The Obama Administration did not budge this time. During the visit of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, accompanied by the din of the AIPAC conference in Washington -- where half of the members of Congress turned up to hear "Bibi" speak on March 5 -- President Obama stuck to his guns, to the surprise (and dismay) of the Israeli hardliners around Netanyahu.

The United States' red line is that it will not permit Iran to manufacture a nuclear bomb. This is not the Israeli red line, in which it is a question of preventing the development of an Iranian capability to produce nuclear weapons -- a vague and open-ended concept that is different from the manufacture of a bomb itself. Netanyahu's red line is, in effect, a license to attack Iran at any moment of choosing, as the capability to create a nuclear weapon may reside in an Iranian scientist's head. It is not at all the same as the physical manufacture of a nuclear bomb and its delivery vehicle. However, even the United States' red line, if acted upon in a preemptive attack, would be highly destabilizing for the region and the world.

With negotiations about to start next month between Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, this is hardly the moment to roil the atmosphere with saber-rattling talk. As for Netanyahu, he has pronounced himself against these negotiations, which he says will lead nowhere.

Every sane person who dares raise his head against the adventure of an unprovoked attack on Iran, which would be yet another American attack against a Muslim country, should do so. Hopefully the Obama Administration, with the likely support of the U.S. military, will resist this torrent of warlike agitation that is not in America's interest.