Late at night, Netanyahu probably also thinks of President Obama, who he has gotten to know during their many visits and conversations. Does Netanyahu believe President Obama would really back up his “all options on the table” threat against Iran to stop the Islamic Republic from developing nuclear weapons, if a moment for action ever came? Or does he believe the great speechifier is all talk and little substance — a man who sets redlines and then sits sucking his thumb as the lines are summarily crossed?
The leader of the Jewish State also probably dwells on the Holocaust. Call this cliché and gauche if you must, but if Iran gets a nuclear weapon, it would have the power to threaten Israel’s existence — to inflict another Holocaust. The foreign policy elite say this wouldn’t happen. They say Iran’s mullahs are rational; that they don’t mean what they say. Perhaps they are and perhaps they don’t. But Israel can’t be 90 percent sure. Sweden can. Luxembourg can. Not Israel.
Then there are the operational and strategic questions Netanyahu probably mulls over. Does Israel really have the military capacity to significantly set back Iran’s nuclear program on its own? Even if it does and successfully sets back Iran’s nuclear program in a military strike, will it matter if the Iranian regime remains in place? Won’t the Islamic Republic just regroup and redouble its efforts to acquire nuclear weapons, only more in the shadows? Can Israel deal with Iran’s probable retaliation and its potential international isolation?
It is so easy to call Netanyahu a warmonger — that he is itching to strike Iran, or at least convince the United States to do it. As if Netanyahu takes this issue so casually. As if he doesn’t understand the potential consequences of a strike. As if this is all fun and games to a man who leads a country of eight million within missile reach of a rogue regime headed by religious fanatics who have repeatedly and publicly mused about annihilating Israel.
Such talk is so cheap. Netanyahu knows war. He knows the costs of it. He knows the pain of being shot, the terror of almost losing your life, the horror of losing a brother. That doesn’t prove Netanyahu is right on Iran or any other issue. But men with such experiences don’t often take war lightly.
It isn’t likely Netanyahu dwells on such prattle. Not when he is alone, with his thoughts, with his responsibility, with questions of war and peace.