If, as seems likely, President Barack Obama retains enough support to complete the nuclear deal with Iran,it will be largely because enough members of the House and Senate are persuaded by his argument that the only other real option is war.
This was the rhetorical gauntlet the president threw down at his press conference last week. Equally significant, Mr. Obama omitted the until-now obligatory warning that “all options, including the military one, remain on the table.”
Since then, Israeli media have been pressing hard to restore the military option to its accustomed place “on the table.” Flying to Israel Sunday night for a handholding mission with top Israeli officials, U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter tried to make his reception in Tel Aviv less frosty, telling accompanying journalists that the nuclear deal with Iran “does nothing to prevent the military option.” The context, however, seemed to be one in which Iran was caught cheating on the nuclear deal.
That this kind of rhetoric, even when it is not from the president, is still poison to Tehran was clear in the immediate reaction by Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, who insisted Monday: “Applying force … is not an option but an unwise and dangerous temptation.”