http://www.washingtonpost.com — (Washington Post)
Amos Yadlin -
The U.S. should take five immediate steps to convince allies and adversaries alike that military action is real, imminent and doable - which are key to making it less likely.
Obama should notify the U.S. Congress in writing that he reserves the right to use military force to prevent Iran's acquisition of a military nuclear capability.
Washington should signal its intentions via a heightened U.S. military presence in the gulf, military exercises with Middle East allies and missile defense deployment in the region. Media coverage of these actions should be encouraged.
Washington should provide advanced military technology and intelligence to strengthen Israel's military capabilities and extend the window in which Israel can mortally wound Iran's program.
U.S. officials should speak publicly about the dangers of possible Iranian nuclear reconstitution in the wake of a military strike. If Iran sees military action by Israel or the West as an absolute end to its nuclear ambitions, it will be more reluctant to risk things.
Obama should publicly commit to the security of U.S. allies in the gulf. This would credibly anchor the U.S. last-resort military option to three powerful interests: U.S. national security, Israeli security and the security of allied states.
Israel cannot afford to outsource its security to another country. But if the U.S. wants Israel to give sanctions and diplomacy more time, Israelis must know that they will not be left high and dry if these options fail.
Ironically, the best assurance the U.S. president can give Israel is a commitment to, if all else fails, resort to military action to protect critical U.S. interests. But time is running out to make this commitment credible to the people of the U.S., Israel and Iran. As the adage goes, if you want peace, prepare (credibly) for war.
The writer, a former chief of Israeli military intelligence, is director of Israel's Institute for National Security Studies.