U.S. Defense Secretary Visits Israel to Soothe Ally After Iran Nuclear Deal

July 21, 2015

New York Times:

The Obama administration opened its Middle East reassurance tour on Monday with the secretary of defense, Ashton B. Carter, promising Israeli officials that the United States would remain vigilant in trying to combat what he called “Iran’s malign influence” in the region despite the nuclear deal struck last week between Tehran and six world powers.

To make his point, Mr. Carter let Israeli officials take him to this remote outpost along Israel’s border with Lebanon, where he listened to them describe all the ways they said that Iranian proxies — especially the militant group Hezbollah — had bedeviled them.

Mr. Carter’s excursion was an exercise meant to soothe an angry friend, and he made a point of repeating the words “Iran’s malign influence” several times during the day.

While Israel does not want to appear, publicly, to be asking for compensation for a deal that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is still hoping will be derailed by the United States Congress, American and Israeli officials have privately discussed ways that the United States could increase Israel’s security, including strengthening its Arrow missile-defense system with additional radar and missiles.

But for all the efforts at soothing and the talk of strengthening security cooperation, one message remained clear at the end of Mr. Carter’s first day in Israel: As far as the administration is concerned, the Iran deal is here to stay despite objections from Israel and America’s Arab allies, who do not like it, either. Mr. Carter is heading to Jordan and Saudi Arabia next…

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