The U.S. and Israel, for reasons not entirely clear, have postponed a massive joint missile-defense exercise that was meant to convey messages to three different parties: The first, to Iran, was that a missile attack on Israel, presumably in response to an Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear sites, would be semi-futile; the second, to Israel's leaders, was that America would fulfill its promise to help Israel protect itself against Iran, and that Prime Minister Netanyahu should be confident that America was his strategic ally; the third message was to American voters, Jewish and otherwise, who are concerned that President Obama's promise to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons is empty of meaning.
According to Israeli sources, Washington told Jerusalem that it was postponing the drill in order to avoid provoking Iran. This was, of course, a defensive drill, but it is plausible to believe that the Iranians would see in this exercise a hardening of Israeli targets immediately in advance of a strike (possibly, from the Iranian perspective, a joint strike -- the Iranian leadership believing, as it does, that there is no daylight at all between the U.S. and Israel on the question of attacking Iran). The Iranians are already agitated -- apparently trying, through their proxy, Hezbollah, to kill Jews in Thailand; threatening Arabs for even contemplating pumping more oil; supplying their only Middle East ally, Syria, with weapons to kill its own citizens; promising to menace shipping in the Gulf -- the whole menu of Iranian regime offenses. I can see why the Obama Administration might think that postponing this exercise might calm Iranian nerves. But I'm afraid this postponement might also convince the Iranian regime that the U.S. has become spooked by its many threats. (Here is Elliott Abrams on the subject, for those interested.)