Former ambassador Indyk says US sees Israeli saber rattling as ‘crying wolf’

Washington, out of reassurances, is learning to live with Jerusalem’s threats, says foreign policy wonk

Former US special envoy Martin Indyk (Miriam Alster/Flash90/File)
Former US special envoy Martin Indyk (Miriam Alster/Flash90/File)

Former US ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk said Thursday that Israel’s talk of attacking Iran was “a classic case of crying wolf” and that Washington was learning “to live with it.”

Indyk, who currently heads the foreign policy division of the Brookings Institution think tank, told Army Radio that US officials feel there is nothing more they can do to reassure Israel that it has American support in stopping Iran from gaining a nuclear weapon.

“The US has done everything it could to reassure Israel and doesn’t have anything more in its quiver, no other arrow to shoot to reassure them. So it thinks [when it hears talk of an Israeli strike on Iran], ‘Here we go again. There’s nothing else we can do. We’ll learn to live with it.'”

Israeli leaders, particularly Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, are reportedly threatening to take military action against Iran’s nuclear program, even though the US opposes such a move until sanctions and diplomacy have been given a chance to work.

Indyk said the Americans have seen Israel make similar threats in the past, spurring assurances from Washington, and they now view the war of words as a bluff.

“They are wary of being bluffed again,” he said.

He added that Israelis needed to understand that President Barack Obama was on their side against Iran, even if election pressures kept him from being able to visit Jerusalem to personally calm Israel.

“It’s not just about Israel’s security,” he said. “[Obama] really cares about it” — stopping Iran.

Indyk served as ambassador to Israel from 1995 to 1997, and from 2000 to 2001, under Bill Clinton and George W. Bush respectively, also serving a stint as the assistant secretary of state for Near East Affairs.

In February, he wrote in The New York Times that Obama, Netanyahu and Iran’s leaders were stuck in a vicious cycle in which each must ratchet up pressure or risk looking weak.

“At a certain point, miscalculation or desperation could lead one side to strike,” he wrote.

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