As Israel weighs an attack against Iran in an effort to destroy its nuclear weapons program, Washington is still mulling a coherent response.
While affirming that all options are on the table, the Obama Administration has repeatedly stated that diplomacy built around a global coalition is the “preferred solution” to ending Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons. But this isn’t saying much. President Obama has given no indication of how the United States would respond if Israel were to take a preventative strike against Iran or how the U.S. is preparing for such an eventuality. Furthermore, President Obama denies evidence that Iran has “intentions or capabilities” to attack the U.S. homeland in retaliation for a strike.
However, just last month, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper warned that it is increasingly likely that Iran could carry out attacks in the U.S. or against U.S. targets. While Iran is feeling the effects of recent international sanctions, economic difficulties are not likely to jeopardize the regime. The plot to murder the Saudi ambassador in Washington last year was one of Iran’s boldest moves to date in committing an attack on U.S. soil. According to Clapper, this:
shows that some Iranian officials—probably including Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei—have changed their calculus and are now more willing to conduct an attack in the United States in response to real or perceived U.S. actions that threaten the regime.
Considering that Iran is willing and capable of waging an attack on U.S. soil now, there is little reason to believe that Iran wouldn’t do so if attacked by Israel.
The Obama Administration should develop a proactive strategy that addresses the escalating conflict by including policies that mitigate threats posed by Iran to U.S. national security—as well as a coordinated response in the event that Israel attacks Iran. In doing so, the Obama Administration should stand shoulder to shoulder with Israel, recognizing Tel Aviv’s right to defend itself against a regime hell-bent on “erasing [Israel] from the page of history.”
More detailed recommendations can be found in the Heritage Foundation, WebMemo “If Israel Attacks.”