As America commemorates the September 11 tragedy and recalls the devastating years of war and terror that followed, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is ramping up war rhetoric just in time for peak campaign season for the US presidential elections.
Netanyahu appears to be making deliberate efforts to politicize the prospect of a war with Iran, following private meetings with Republican hopeful Mitt Romney and his top donor, casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson. Netanyahu has enjoyed longtime relationships with both men and is believed to be supporting the Romney/Ryan ticket though has not yet made a public endorsement of Mitt Romney's presidential ambitions.
Though they stopped short of accusing Netanyahu of taking sides in the election, the Israeli prime minister has a longtime relationship with Republican candidate Mitt Romney and with Sheldon Adelson, a casino magnate and top donor to the Republican Party. Romney, who visited Israel in July, has repeatedly criticized Obama's handling of the nuclear issue.
Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak has been critical of Netanyahu's escalating anti-American rhetoric, emphasizing that preserving a good relationship with the U.S. is essential and that Netanyahu should handle any policy disagreements more quietly.
The U.S. has been a key ally of Israel in leading efforts in the U.N. Security Council to impose economic sanctions on Iran, including a ban on oil imports from Iran to the European Union.
Obama has stated unequivocally that the United States will not allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon.
For many Americans the timing of Netanyahu's increasingly urgent war rhetoric recalls the Bush/Cheney rush to war with Iraq in the months leading up to the 2002 elections. The war was ultimately launched despite the absence of any intelligence supporting Bush administration claims that Iraq had developed weapons of mass destruction (WMD), which were ultimately never found.