It could be that the worst nightmare America's leadership fears it could confront at this point in U.S. foreign relations is a war with Iran.
First, such a war while the Afghanistan War continues and the Iraq War has just ended, permitting thousands of U.S. forces to come home, would be entirely unwelcome in terms of Americans' general taste for war in the Middle East.
Second, given the money the United States has already spent on such wars -- nearly nine years in Iraq and so far nearly 11 years in Afghanistan with another two to go -- and the clear need to cut Department of Defense money along with other government spending, the inevitably large costs of a war with Iran could not come at a worse time.
Third, with Americans already seeing the price of gas at the pump push $4 a gallon, at a time when the economy seems to be slowly staggering out of the woods, the inevitable price rise that war with Iran would cause, probably up to $5 a gallon, would also be entirely unwelcome.
That third point adds another scary aspect to the current situation. Republicans might like to see Mr. Obama put in that Iran war corner and thus might be tempted to use it to damage him by using their close relationship with Israel to prompt it to launch such a war, even if the Obama administration resisted the project mightily. The U.S. taxpayer would be put in the position of paying for the war, and paying the new higher price for fuel.
Against that background it was encouraging to see Israel and the United States agree to postpone -- although as of now only to the fall -- large joint military exercises scheduled for the spring. They were intended to focus on missile defense, would have involved thousands of U.S. troops in Israel, and would have been clearly directed against Iran.
America needs peace in the Middle East now, not a new war.