A lead story in several of the usual outlets concerns the US beefing up missile defenses and arms sales to places like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the UAE and deploying a number of US Aegis-equipped missile interceptor cruisers with advanced radar, supposedly signaling a new 'hard line' by the Obama Administration as a precursor to New and Improved Sanctions.
I won't bother quoting from the al-Guardian article linked to above because a good chunk of it is fiction, but here's what's actually going on based on my sources.
There is no 'harder line' coming on Iran, unless you compare it to no policy at all, which is how the Obama Administration dealt with this matter previously. Just to be bi-partisan about it, the Bush Administration did only slightly better since Dubyah left this in the hands of Condi Rice and the Europeans.
Given the $800 billion we owe the Chinese, China's need for Iranian oil and gas and the already strained atmosphere over our recent arms sales to Taiwan, President Obama has little or no leverage in getting China to go along with any actual sanctions. That's also true of the Russians and European countries like Germany and Italy who are major trading partners of Iran.
For that matter, Obama has already signaled that his idea of action involves mild, 'targeted sanctions' that avoid impacting Iran's major point of vulnerability - refined fuel imports. Real sanctions would involve a naval embargo and a no fly zone on Iran's land borders, and Obama has no intentions of going there unless events force him into it, kicking and screaming.
The latest shipment of missile defense systems and US ships in the region is simply an attempt to do what we always do in these situations rather than drill our own oil- protect the people Osama bin-Laden referred to as our gas station attendants in the Middle East, although gas station owners would probably be more accurate.
The Iranian threat to a place like Abu Dhabi or the oil fields of Eastern Saudi Arabia comes from land based missile launchers, which is what the Patriots and the Aegis system are are designed to stop.
The al-Guardian article also mentions that CIA head Leon Panetta is in Israel 'seeking to discourage Israel from a strike against Iran by demonstrating that the US is prepared to contain any threat'.
There's a world of meaning in that statement. Put yourself in the place of the Israelis for a second.
You're meeting with a political hack with no intelligence expertise whatsoever who represents the most hostile, anti-Israel US administration the Israelis have ever dealt with, staffed with a number of advisers who think the main problem in the Middle East is Jews building houses. And, having some of those Patriot Missiles as well as your own systems deployed, you know that they're designed to deal with short and medium range missiles, not Iran's longer range solid fuel Shahabs, so any 'threats' the new US buildup is 'containing' are to folks like the Saudis and the UAE, not Israel.
Finally, your own intel is telling you that Iran, a country whose leaders have announced genocidal intentions against Israel numerous times is less than a year away from having a fully operational and deliverable nuclear weapon.
If you were the Israelis, what weight would place on anything Panetta had to tell you about any commitments the US has regarding Israel? How seriously would you take his assurances that the US has things under control and will deal with the mullahs? If you were Israel, how would you react to Panetta's warnings that Israel had better just trust Obama's word on this and avoid a pre-emptive strike?
The answers to those questions are pretty self-evident. And Israel is already preparing the ground for a response.