US-Iran Settlement Requires Looking Beyond Netanyahu’s Goals

By Michael Brenner

Graham Allison and Shai Feldman, the two distinguished authors of the “Coming Clash over Iran“, have reduced the complicated, contentious issue of Iran’s relations with the United States to the tenor of dealings between Washington and Jerusalem. Means, methods and strategies for “keeping them on the same page” is, they suggest, the priority concern. In so doing, they have demonstrated the problem while adding nothing to the search for a solution.

They begin with the odd proposition that “the two country’s leaders seemed to be able to set aside their mutual animosity and distrust, working together to defuse the crisis” in Gaza. What they did in fact was collaborate to create the crisis. Then, when their plans went awry, they hopped on the Morsi bandwagon so as to cut their losses. In the process, they strengthened Iran’s hand.

The glaring truth is that to the extent that President Barak Obama accommodates Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, the chances of a settlement with Tehran go down. The prerequisites for finding a modus vivendi are two-fold. One is for the Obama administration to make an independent, sober assessment of American stakes in its relations with Iran and to set that as the reference mark for fashioning policies to secure them. The other is to recognize that only a comprehensive approach that embeds the nuclear issue in discussions of wider security concerns holds out the prospect of success. Unhappily, there is no evidence as yet that we have begun to proceed accordingly.

— Michael Brenner is Professor Emeritus of International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh and a Fellow of the Center for Transatlantic Relations SAIS Johns Hopkins. His commentaries appear regularly in the Huffington Post and a number of news outlets elsewhere in the world.

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