Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, for example, has publicly hit out at Netanyahu and Barak for spending three billion dollars on “adventurous fantasies” and “military delusions” for operations that “will never be carried out.” Yet such investment serves not only to build the capability to use force, but also conveys a willingness to use it. The same is true for the massive recruitment of reserves, who stood ready to enter the Gaza Strip during operation Pillar of Defense, but who never had to because diplomacy allowed the desired outcome of relative calm.
When Netanyahu gave his now famous speech at the United Nations a year ago, memorably charting a red line to Iran’s weapons nuclear program, many interpreted the speech as an Israeli attempt to entangle the United States in a war that would serve Israel’s interest. But Netanyahu’s goal was precisely the opposite. His speech was not about how to go to war – it was about how to avoid it. Netanyahu’s message for the international community, and especially to the United States and its allies, was that a clear red line to Iran, backed by a credible military threat, was necessary for diplomacy to work.
The fact is that diplomacy alone was not going to achieve the aim of curbing Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Diplomacy backed by force had a fighting chance. A year later, the results of Iran’s elections and its recent “charm offensive” and offers of negotiations have proven this doctrine correct.