The Proverbial “Red Line”
What does it mean and how strong is it? The answer rests whoever is making the declaration.
Over the course of the past six plus years we’ve all heard talk from various world leaders threatening dire consequences if the opposition crossed “the red line.” The red line marks the end of the line, or does it?
Back in 2012, then President Barak Obama declared on national television that should the regime of Bashar al-Assad use chemical weapons on the people of Syria, the “red line” would be crossed and Assad would face attack from the United States. Later that same year, nearly 1500 innocent Syrian people died when Assad’s forces attacked his own people with chemical weapons. Did Obama give the green light to attack when his red line was crossed? No, because Obama’s red line was blurred by the Iran Nuclear Deal which was being secretly negotiated in Oman at exactly the same time as Assad’s chemical weapons attack. You see, Iran was (and is) cozy with Assad. Iran threatened no nuclear deal if Syria was attacked and Obama desperately wanted to create a lasting legacy. So, with cold feet, he backed off of his meaningless red line which served to weaken America’s image in the international community.
Now we fast forward to Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Just 40 days before the U.S. presidential election in November 2012, Netanyahu drew his own line with a thick red marker. He had been sounding the warning for a very long time about Iran’s covert nuclear ambitions however the Obama White House wasn’t listening. This forced Netanyahu to make his case to the U.N. General Assembly in September of 2012 with a detailed time line. While he did not directly threaten to attack Iran if his red time line was crossed, he certainly gave every indication that this was a distinct possibility even if Israel had to “go it alone.” A nuclear armed Iran is a threat to Israel’s very existence. Diplomacy and sanctions had failed to rein in Iran’s nuclear ambitions and every day brought Iran a bit closer to sufficient uranium enrichment to produce a nuclear weapon.
Netanyahu remained outspoken and steadfast in his opposition to the Iran Nuclear Deal. In March of 2015, Prime Minister Netanyahu received an invitation to address the Congress of the United States. It was long past time for the American people to know the truth of the danger facing them. In his speech Netanyahu said, “As prime minister of Israel, I have a moral obligation to speak up in the face of these dangers (posed by Iran) while there is still time to avert them.” Despite Netanyahu’s warnings and objections, a nuclear deal was crafted in which Iran emerged the victor. In May of this year, recognizing the lopsided deal as absurd and dangerous to the security of Israel, the U.S. and the world, President Donald Trump made the decision to pull out of the agreement and re-implement sanctions but this is not enough to guarantee Israel’s safety.
With opposing objectives, it seems war between Israel and Iran is a real possibility. Unlike Obama’s blurred red line, Israel’s red line is solid, firm and crystal clear and they have the will and the backbone to follow through if it is crossed. Iran is hard at work and very determined to turn Syria into a base for Iranian operations and a manufacturing site for its missile production. Israel is determined that this will never happen. Even if Iran does not attack Israel directly but rather elects to use one of its proxies such as Hezbollah, the consequences would be devastating. Hezbollah’s forces are war-weary and the Syrian army has its hands full fighting its own people. For these reasons Iran could elect to attack Israel directly which, of course, would be met with the full force of Israel’s army and air force. They have the will and the determination to fight to win, the support of the Israeli people, and a promise from God Himself that never again will Israel be removed from her land.