Monday, August 20, 2012

More bad ideas on Iran

More bad ideas on Iran

The quantity of “information” in the Israeli and US media regarding Iran’s nuclear project and possible action against it is enormous. It includes deliberate disinformation, propaganda intended to discredit the Israeli PM (always a goal of the Israeli Left), uninformed speculation, and — like the publication by mainstream outlets including the BBC of total nonsense provided by anti-Israel blogger Richard Silverstein — sheer journalistic incompetence.

Some of it comes from what might be reasonable sources, but doesn’t make a lick of sense. Take this, reported in today’s NY Times:
JERUSALEM — A former Israeli national security adviser said Wednesday that the prime minister and the defense minister told him this week they had not yet decided to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities and could be dissuaded from a strike if President Obama approved stricter sanctions and publicly confirmed his willingness to use military force.

“There is a window of opportunity,” said the official, Uzi Dayan, a former deputy chief of staff in the military. “This window is closing, but if the United States would be much clearer and stronger about the sanctions on one hand and about what can happen if Iran won’t make a U-turn — there is not a lot of time, but there is still time to make a difference.” …

While Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Barak have been criticized as “messianic” in their thinking on the Iranian nuclear issue and are widely viewed as ready, if not eager, to take military action to stop it, Mr. Dayan said they would prefer that the United States led any attack, even if that meant waiting until after the November presidential election. But “they have to make the decision whether to strike or not before November,” he said, so they need to hear from Mr. Obama “in the coming two weeks, in the coming month.”

In other words, Dayan is suggesting that if President Obama will increase sanctions (which is not entirely in his hands and which won’t work anyway) and promise to use force after the election if Iran doesn’t “make a U-turn,” then Israel will hold off.

I’ve already discussed at length why sanctions will not cause Iran to dismantle its program. So we are talking, essentially, about a promise to use force. Can Israel depend on such a promise? Even if Barack Obama were the most pro-Israel president in history (and in fact he is the opposite), there are external forces that could make it impossible to keep it. For example, suppose he is not reelected. Could a lame duck President initiate military action (it would be called ‘starting a war’) on behalf of another country?

Not only that, there is the question of what constitutes a “U-turn.” Israel has said that it cannot tolerate Iran having a ‘nuclear capability’ while the US has said that its red line is something like a decision to build a weapon. Would the US accept Israel’s definition? Even if it did, what if US intelligence on Iranian progress doesn’t agree with Israel’s?

Taking all this into account, would Bibi, the son of Benzion Netanyahu, abandon a cornerstone of Israel’s strategic doctrine and place the defense of Israel, against what he assuredly believes to be an existential threat, in the hands of the US — the US which has broken promises to Israel  before, even with friendlier presidents?
I don’t think so.