Weekends with Alex Witt | March 17, 2013
>>> president obama heading to the middle east on tuesday, he's making his first trip to israel after his first four plus years in office. a third of israelis think he is supportive of their country, but only 10% view president obama favorfully. former u.s. secretary of state , p.j., good to see you. how about the view of the israeli public that we were just talking about there, does that matter?
>> it probably doesn't matter as much as it used to in prime minister net tanyahu's trip back -- he obvious lly won re-election with a weaken coalition government that was weakening with a hard bargain over the past several weeks, but not understanding the personal tensioning between the two. the president will get off the airplane, they'll see the iron dome missile system which represents a deep cooperation that does exist between the israeli government and the u.s. government . they'll have a lot to talk about things where they disagree on the israeli-palestinian front. there's mutual concern, that being syria and iran .
>> what should president obama hope to accomplish to have this trip be called a success?
>> i think it's establishing a floor in each of their relationship. each would prefer a leader of a different stripe in their office, but they're going to be together for the next two to four years, do a compelling situation right next door in syria, so they need to have a common understanding of what could happen there that could have spillover effects into israel . and sometime in the next several months, dealing with the iranian situation with respect to it's nuclear program , we have had two elections, obviously the president has been re-elected, the prime minister has been re-elected. there's still an election in iran in june, that could show how much negotiating opportunity there will be existing sometime this year.
>> you have to wonder if right out of the gate, this came from martin fletcher , who said the very first question from president obama will say is there a way to establish --
>> u.s. policy is to prevent iran from gaining a nuclear weapon . where there might be disagreement but less than perhaps existed a year ago, the real calculation is how much time before iran reaches that irreversible point. and they'll talk about that, but i still think that for both president obama and prime minister netanyahu, they'll talk about overshadowed northern affairs, but there's still some flexibility, much of 2013 , to be able to try to resolve this sort of military action .
>> you think sanctions might ultimately work? you think there is a chance by use of force by either the u.s. or israel against iran ?
>> is there a clans of use of force absolutely, sanctions are having an affect on p iran , but there's time to negotiate. there was a high level meeting of the so-called p-5 plus 1 earlier this month. there will be a technical meeting this march. there will be another high level meeting in april. and then we'll just see if the positive tone that came out of the last meeting translates into some real negotiating. i suspect we'll probably have to wait until probably late summer, a new iranian government , some assessment by the supreme court leader as to how successful iran 's going to be before we really know that answer.
>> martin fletcher asks if an attack by iran against israel will be so bad that they'll regret it.
>> it haslem the ability, through surrogates like hezbollah to damage u.s. interests, israeli interests, and that reaction, i think would be expected after a 34i8 tear strike, either by the united states , israel or some combination.
>> the dilemma in terms of the military option, as real as it needs to be, is that it probably makes an iranian nuclear weapon inevitable. iran has made the capability. it is negotiating for the right to have a civilian united states of nuclear energy and nuclear know how. i don't think it's made the strategic decision to weaponize that nuclear capability. but clearly in response to a u.s. military strike, that's the most likely the response by iran , they'll have a nuke dleer bomb and a survival weapon within