News and views relevant to U.S.-Iran relations for September 3, 2010.
- The Wall Street Journal: Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA), who made his first trip to the Middle East last month, applauds the talks between Mahmoud Abbas and Benjamin Netanyahu but warns that “[t]here can never be peace in the Middle East with a nuclear-armed Iran.” The first term Senator calls for additional “punishing” sanctions against Iran and reports that the possibility of a nuclear weapons possessing Iran is the biggest concern of both Israeli and Jordanian leadership. Brown concludes that, “While we should encourage the Israelis and Palestinians as they return to the negotiating table, let’s not lose sight of the real threat to peace in the Middle East: Iran, the leading state sponsor of terror in the world, armed with a nuclear weapon.”
- Politico: Fredrik Stanton, author of “Great Negotiations: Agreements That Changed the Modern World,” argues that sanctions against Iran’s economy are failing to deter Tehran from its nuclear ambitions but that more aggressive steps—in line with Britain, Germany and Italy’s 2003 boarding of the BBC China, a ship carrying centrifuge parts for Libya’s nuclear weapons program—could deter Iran from its current path. Stanton proposes that the U.S. should pursue policies of, “visible and tangible support for domestic opponents of the regime, greater focus on Iranian human rights violations, public seizures of nuclear proliferation material and an embargo of refined petroleum fuels.”
- International Herald Tribune: Earlier this week in the global edition of the New York Times, Iranian-American Reza Aslan and Israeli Bernard Avishai conclude that were the West to be “confronted by an Iran crossing the nuclear threshold, that would be a lesser evil than what we will confront in the wake of an attack to prevent this.” They sum up some of the recent war-drum-chatter around Jeffrey Goldberg‘s Atlantic piece on an Israeli attack on Iran, noting that the “logic” of what Goldberg writes points towards a U.S. strike. “This drumbeat must be silenced, and only President Obama can silence,” they write. “An Israeli attack on Iran would almost certainly precipitate a devastating regional war with unforeseeable global consequences.”
Scott Brown is actually a nice guy and smarter than some people might think. But he knows squat about the Middle East. Despite the prominent forum he received, his words aren’t going to convince anyone who doesn’t already view Iran as an “existential threat.”
I doubt Stanton is right that more aggresive steps against Iran will stop it pursuing its nuclear program. Iran isn’t Libya. But I’d rather see actions of the kind described than war.
Aslan and Avishai are right. And I think their view is winning converts in Washington and Tel Aviv. The prospect of war remains, but is receding. So long as Obama-Gates-Mullin control US security policy, war is unlikely. The U.S. won’t start it, and the Israelis won’t go against a U.S. veto on military action. Start saving your pennies for Barack’s re-election coffers.
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