Two Cents on Iran Negotiation

1. I for one agree wholeheartedly with the idea that, with the passage of time, the USA and Iran could grow much friendlier. Looks like the potential agreement could mean that, in ten years, Iran could build a nuclear bomb. But ten years from now, the world could look altogether different to us. Iran could look more like a friend.

2. Problem is, we have to put ourselves in Israel’s shoes. Israel has no choice but to prevent Iran building a nuclear weapon–by whatever means necessary. While you and I can luxuriate in thoughts of less-expensive Persian rugs, the Israelis must presume that, on the day that Iran has a nuclear bomb, they will launch it at Israel.

Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv

Doesn’t really matter who controls the Israeli parliament, Likud or the liberals. If you’re responsible for the continued existence of the state of Israel, you have to presume that Iran wants to destroy you.

3. The Israelis, therefore, will do anything and everything to prevent the final success of these negotiations. They will almost certainly succeed in preventing a final agreement. And, in fact, by doing so, they will actually be doing us a huge favor. Because…

4. For the USA, there are really only two future scenarios vis-a-vis Iran. The good future scenario involves Iran becoming friendlier not only with us, but with the Israelis also. But, from where I am standing, I do not see the kind of diplomats at work who could bring about this result. Obama and Co. do not have that kind of game to bring to this court, so to speak.

5. Therefore, lacking a de-escalation of tensions between Iran and Israel, if this agreement (as very sketchily outlined) were to go into effect, the Israelis would have no choice but to attack Iran. They would be bound by the logic of self-defense to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities. A war would begin. And where would the USA stand at that moment?

I will tell you where: Tied up in knots by our un-examined, knee-jerk, political acid-test relationship with Israel.

The news-cycle vibe has it that Obama and Netanyahu don’t like each other; the USA-Israel relationship is strained by personality conflicts. But that, actually, is not the problem at all. Dislike between American president and Israeli prime-minister is a passing thing, not a big deal in and of itself.

The problem is: we as a country have such an unquestioning loyalty to Israel as an ally that we cannot hold their self-defensive military logic in check. They will do what they think they have to do to defend themselves (for which no one could really blame them), and we will have to come to their aid no matter what they do.

So: Given that the alternative is almost certainly a war, the best scenario for this summer is the collapse of the Iran deal. Israel and her friends will bring about such a collapse one way or another, I think. The whole business will probably appear very ugly to the great idealists of a more peaceful world, like myself. Even tragic. But hardly blameworthy, all things considered.

I recommend prayer for a miracle, specifically the miracle of a channel of communication opening between Iran and Israel. Crazier things have happened.

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