Industry economists seem to be unanimous in their thinking that times and prices in the beef business will continue to be extremely good – unless some outside force comes along to mess it up. Let’s talk about some potential issues.
Iran’s nuclear program is one issue that could do just that. It’s generated a considerable amount of saber rattling in recent weeks, as Israel’s leaders have talked openly about the possibility of a military attack on Iran. Most experts believe such preemptive action could initiate a regional conflict that would likely cause oil prices to skyrocket. And, higher energy prices could put the world’s struggling economy into a tailspin.
Of course, most of these same experts also believe Israel can’t just sit by and allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons. After all, Iranian leaders have made their feelings regarding Israel very clear. Plus, an Iran with nuclear capabilities would further destabilize the Middle East and severely harm the strategic interests of the Western World and its allies in the Middle East.
Yet, with all this agreement, there are vastly different goals among the players, with some of those suspiciously centering around election-year politics. The general consensus is that Israel doesn’t have the military capacity to sustain a prolonged air attack on Iran; Israel certainly can start it but probably can’t finish it on its own. The U.S. is the only country with that capability. Israel also doesn’t possess the bunker-busting ammunitions needed – as the U.S. does – to take out Iran’s underground facilities.
However, the U.S. views the military option as one that can be entertained later, and prefers to allow diplomacy and economic sanctions more time to work. Israel, on the other hand, feels the window of opportunity to conduct a successful military campaign against Iran’s nuclear program is disappearing. Meanwhile, Iran is hoping to buy enough time to fulfill its nuclear ambitions and/or take its nuclear program underground, both literally and figuratively.
Everyone agrees Israel can’t allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons, but the Obama administration can’t afford a military attack. An armed conflict would greatly harm President Obama’s election prospects, as a result of rising fuel prices and their potential effect on a very fragile global economy.
In the past, Israel has willingly put aside its national interests based on assurance that the U.S. had its back. One of the most obvious examples occurred during the first Iraq war. Deferring to U.S. wishes, Israel absorbed countless missile attacks by Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, who tried his hardest to draw Israel into the conflict in order to widen the war and win support from Arab nations.
However, Israel no longer seems to believe the U.S. – and the Obama administration specifically – has its back; nor is Israel convinced that the U.S. is willing to act in time. Meanwhile, the Obama administration has been doing everything possible to reassure Israel about U.S. resolve and exhort it not to act on its own.
The upcoming election is crucial in a lot of ways – not only to the U.S., but to Israel. The great irony is that both men – Obama and Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu – have made no secret that they neither like nor trust each other. Still, they find themselves tied to each other for their own survival.