Understanding Contradictions In U.S. Policy Toward Iran

Leon Panetta announced that it is doubtful that we can stop Iran developing nuclear weapons.  He said that a military strike would only have a temporary effect and slow them down a little and then they'd build again and would be met with retaliation.  Obama pressure's Israel not to strike while he and his secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta announce that the U.S. will not tolerate an Iranian nuclear weapon.  How can they announce this when Panetta says the U.S. can't do anything to stop it?  Susan Rice declares that American sanctions on Iran are working when not only is there no sign of Iranian nuclear development slowing down, they are actually adding centrifuges and announcing it to the international community.  Netanyahu asks America for red lines for Iran and the Obama administration refuses. On the other hand the Obama administration is cooperating closely with Israel on developing anti-missile defenses. Susan Rice declares that the U.S. policy is not one of containment i.e. that they will not allow Iran to develop the bomb. 

What is going on here?

One can make sense of this if one concludes that the United States has no intention of going to war with Iran to stop it from getting the bomb and doesn't want Israel to go to war with Iran either.  The Obama administration knows that the only way to stop Israel from striking is to convince the Israelis that it will strike if necessary to prevent the Iranian bomb.  The Obama administration wants Israel to feel safe regarding the Iranian threat and so cooperates with missile defense development with Israel.  Obama wants to do well in the polls and sounding strong and tough on Iran scores him points.

Why not go to war with Iran to stop the bomb, after all there is something worse than a war with Iran and that is a nuclear armed Iran.  Politically going to war with Iran is likely to be a disaster for Obama even though sounding tough is good for Obama politically.  Obama wants to be seen as the person who got us out of wars such as the war with Iraq and the Taliban in Afghanistan not the man who got us into a war with Iran.  In addition Iran is likely to retaliate and has weapons that probably can strike the U.S. from boats offshore.  In addition Iran has military power in countries such as Venezuela that could strike against the United States.  Russia has put together a force to march on it's neighbor Iran in case the U.S. strikes so that the U.S. doesn't take over the country.  A strike against Iran could ignite a major war.  The problem with this thinking is that it ignores the fact that an Iran with the nuclear bomb is far more dangerous than even this potential scenario. 

What if the Obama administration thinks it can appease Iran into being non-nuclear by sacrificing Israel?  Then in the mind of the Obama administration all the unpleasantness of attacking Iran and Iranian counterattacks can be avoided.  Israel would simply be forced to go back to the 1948 lines, and give the rest to a Palestinian state.  If Israel was destroyed from these vulnerable borders well, that's unfortunate but at least the U.S. would no longer be seen as an ally of the chief enemy of the Arab world and the Arab world would lose their motivation to strike the U.S.  .  Obama has already announced that Israel should go back to the suicidal 1948 borders. His announcement hasn't worked in regards to winning love from the Arab world but he didn't know that it wouldn't work.  Obama wants the Jewish vote and the vote of people who support Israel which is why it's likely that he will postpone this policy until his second term but if he gets elected then it is likely that he will turn the screws on Israel.