via Lobe Log

President Obama and the bipartisan, bicameral congressional leadership, have deepened America’s support for Israel in difficult times”: In what multiple outlets have deemed a “rare” statement, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) issued a press release on Sunday praising the Obama Administration – as well as both Congressional Republicans and Democrats — for their collective handling of Iran’s nuclear program and for their overall commitment to Israel’s security.

Martin Indyk: ‘I’m afraid that 2013 is going to be a year in which we`re going to have a military confrontation with Iran’”: On CBS’s Face the Nation Sunday morning talk show, former Ambassador to Israel and “architect” of the dual containment policy against Iran and Iraq during the 1990s Martin Indyk told host Bob Schieffer that no president would issue a public ultimatum, such as a “red line”, not even Romney:

The idea of putting out a public red line, in effect, issuing an ultimatum, is something that no president would do. You notice Governor Romney is not putting out a red line. Senator McCain didn`t, either, and neither is Bibi Netanyahu, for that matter, in terms of Israel`s own actions, because it locks you in.

And I think what`s clear is that the United States has a vital interest in preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. There is still time, perhaps six months, even, by Prime Minister Netanyahu`s own time table, to try to see if a negotiated solution can be worked out. I`m pessimistic about that.

If that doesn`t work out, and we need to make every effort, exhaust every chance that it does work, then I`m afraid that 2013 is going to be a year in which we`re going to have a military confrontation with Iran.

Richard Haass, President of the Council on Foreign Relations, also suggested military action was possible in the near future and that the declaration of “red lines” would be unhelpeful, concurring that “instead of red lines, let me suggest deadlines,” arguing that “what we ought to do is go to the Iranians with a diplomatic offer and make clear what it is they have to stop doing, all the enrichment material they have to get rid of, the international inspections they have to accept, in return sanctions would be reduced, and they would be out from under the risk of attack.”

McCain: U.S. “is weakened” under Obama”: Also on Meet the Press this Sunday was Senator John McCain (R-AZ), who decried the Obama Administration’s Syria policy and complained that the US is ceding ground to radical Islamists:

McCain: In Syria, 20,000 people have been massacred. These people cry out for our help. They`ve been massacred, raped, tortured, beaten. And the president of the United States will not even speak up for them, much less provide them with the arms and equipment for a fair fight when Russian arms are flowing in, Iranian help and Hezbollah on the ground.

Schieffer: So, what is it that we`re doing wrong here?

McCain: Well, it`s disengagement. Prior to 9/11, we had a policy of containment. Then after 9/11, it was confrontation with the terrorists and al Qaeda. Now it`s disengagement.

Every time– you just saw the spokesperson– we`re leaving Iraq. We`re leaving Afghanistan. We`re leaving the area. The people in the area are having to adjust and they believe the United States is weak, and they are taking appropriate action.

McCain also criticized the President for having a public dispute over “red lines” with Netanyahu and said that the US should tell then Israelis “we will not let them cross and we will act with you militarily.”

Don’t Expect a Romney Intifadeh, the Palestinians Are Used to Disappointment”: Tony Karon of TIME responds to leaked remarks Mitt Romney made at a fundraiser in Florida in which he asserted that the Palestinians do not want a peace deal with Israel and suggested that his administration would “kick the ball down the field” with little hope for future progress on the peace process. Karon argues that while it is rare to hear such words from politicians in Israel, the West Bank or the US, in practice, kicking the ball down the field has been the “default policy” for the Obama Administration and its predecessors:

…. The prospect of achieving a two-state peace via a bilateral consensus at the negotiating table remains remote for the foreseeable future. Admitting as much, however, has been deemed unwise for the U.S., for Israel and for a Palestinian leadership that has invested the entirety of its political being in the Oslo accords. After all, admitting that there’s no prospect of ending the occupation through a “peace process” that survives only as a misleading label for the status quo would force all sides into an uncomfortable choice of accepting things as they are or finding new ways of changing it.

Netanyahu is being pressed by his own base in the direction of formalizing the de facto creeping annexation of the West Bank, while Abbas has become a kind of twilight figure, facing a rebellion on the ground that could sweep away the Palestinian Authority. He is once again threatening to walk away from Oslo and annul the agreement, to dissolve the Authority or to press forward with his bid for statehood at the U.N., but neither the U.S. nor Israel, nor many of the Palestinians on whose behalf he threatens these actions, appear to take such threats very seriously. Abbas may be waiting — in vain — for Washington to change course, but not many Palestinians believe that’s likely to happen.

Romney’s comments, and the extent to which they jibe with Obama’s default policies even as the catechisms of the peace process are duly recited, are simply a reminder that the game is up. No matter who wins the White House in November, the Palestinians aren’t going to get any change out of Washington.

Talk to Iran’s Leaders, but Look Beyond Them”: The New York Times runs an op-ed by CFR Fellow Ray Takeyh urging the US to cut “an interim deal” over Iran’s nuclear program so that it can move past the matter and focus on exerting more support to the political opposition there to compel the leadership to pursue a different course:

Once an interim deal is in place, the United States must take the lead in devising a coercive strategy to change the parameters of Iran’s domestic politics. A strategy of concerted pressure would seek to exploit all of Iran’s liabilities. The existing efforts to stress Iran’s economy would be complemented by an attempt to make common cause with the struggling opposition.

…. Under such intensified pressures, Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader, could acquiesce and negotiate with the opposition. There are members of the Iranian elite who appreciate the devastating cost of Iran’s intransigence and want a different approach to the international community. The problem is that these people have been pushed to the margins. If Khamenei senses that his grip on power is slipping, he might broaden his government to include opposition figures who would inject a measure of pragmatism and moderation into the system.

The history of proliferation suggests that regimes under stress do negotiate arms control treaties: Both the Soviet Union and North Korea signed many such agreements. …. Once there is a new outlook — as there was in the Soviet Union when Mikhail Gorbachev came to power — then it is possible to craft durable arms limitation agreements.