(MENAFN - Jordan Times) Israel is blackmailing the US. Washington is perfectly aware of it, but does not want, or is unable, to do anything about it. That is one of the various aspects of the seemingly strange relationship between the world's sole superpower and a small country of about seven million people thousands of kilometres away.
One would really not care for the US-Israel relationship would it not be for its negative impact on the region. The Israeli hold over the US stands in the way of a just settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian problem and regional peace and stability.
The world is watching today the way Israel is manipulating the US into attacking Iran in the name of Tehran's contested nuclear activities. Israeli leaders claim that Iran will have nuclear weapons in a few months' time and it will be too late to preempt it from happening if military action is not carried out now.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has told his Cabinet colleagues not to make any public statement about the issue, but that has not stopped them from repeatedly telling US civilian and military officials, in private, that Israel will not inform the US in advance if it decides to launch a preemptive strike against Iranian nuclear facilities.
The "warning" is not only outrageous but also ridiculous. First, such an action will immediately expose US troops and interests in the entire Middle East and Afghanistan to mortal danger. How could any US official listen with a straight faced to the Israelis, recipients of the largest chunk of US foreign aid, telling them that Israel feels free to carry out any action it deems fit even if it leads to the death of Americans?
Then there is the question of how effective unilateral Israeli action will be. No matter how hard it tries, Israel on its own would not be able to make a serious difference to Iran's nuclear activities, but will leave Tehran as a wounded animal hitting out left and right in retaliation.
Israel needs every bit of American logistical support to carry out military strikes against Iran worth the name. So, how could anyone assume that it would keep the Americans in the dark about the whole thing?
Indeed, there is a rider to the so-called Israeli "warning". Not informing the US in advance about a military strike against Iran is aimed at "protecting" the superpower from being held "responsible" by Tehran for failing to preempt Israel. Again, that is a laugh. How would Iran be convinced that Washington did not know in advance of the Israeli strike?
In any event, Iranian leaders have warned that they will hold the US responsible for any military action against their country by anyone. Therefore, the "protection" Israel is offering the US is worth nothing.
Reports in the West say that top US officials are trying all in their power to dissuade Israel from launching a "unilateral" strike against Iran. Does that mean that the US will support a "multilateral" strike?
In reality, the US knows well that Israel is determined not to allow Iran to possess a nuclear weapon and will undertake any action to achieve that aim. The administration of US President Barack Obama is also aware that Israel wants the US to do the job of attacking Iran, knowing well that there could be nothing called a "contained situation" if such action is carried out. It could even lead to a conflict that could change the face of this region, with Israel applauding from afar, well aware that it could only reap benefit from the crisis.
The various tactics used by Israel, through explicit and implicit means, to pressure the US into military action against Iran include the argument that if Israel were to strike at Iran, it would lead to regional destabilisation and help Islamist movements across the Middle East. Therefore, goes the argument, it is far better for the US to attack Iran, if only to preempt Israeli action.
Washington is forced to work on two tracks now. On one, the US administration is trying to ward off an Israeli attack that could trigger a wider regional conflict and expose US personnel and interests to serious danger. On the other, it is fighting mounting pressure from the pro-Israel lobby to take the lead in military action against Iran.
The two tracks are not mutually exclusive because both serve the purpose of maintaining regional stability and protecting US interests as seen from Washington's perspective.
However, Israel is least interested in either. It is hell bent on hitting Iran, regardless of consequences, and it can be expected to use many other methods of blackmailing the US into doing the job, including false flag operations that could touch off a US-Iranian military conflagration.
Once the first shot is fired, there is no telling what could happen.
The writer, who served The Jordan Times for 20 years, now works for the UAE-based Gulf Today newspaper.