Friday, May 25, 2007

Iran again

















Steven Clemons reports on his blog The Washington Note that:
Multiple sources have reported that a senior aide on Vice President Cheney's national security team has been meeting with policy hands of the American Enterprise Institute, one other think tank, and more than one national security consulting house and explicitly stating that Vice President Cheney does not support President Bush's tack towards Condoleezza Rice's diplomatic efforts and fears that the President is taking diplomacy with Iran too seriously.

This White House official has stated to several Washington insiders that Cheney is planning to deploy an "end run strategy" around the President if he and his team lose the policy argument.

The thinking on Cheney's team is to collude with Israel, nudging Israel at some key moment in the ongoing standoff between Iran's nuclear activities and international frustration over this to mount a small-scale conventional strike against Natanz using cruise missiles (i.e., not ballistic missiles).

In an article in the The American Conservative in January, I suggested that the Bush Administration could end-up giving a green light to Israel to attack Iran:
American officials continue to maintain in public that Washington will not sanction unilateral Israeli action against Iran, and according to the Jerusalem Post, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told French officials that she would not be willing “to show understanding for a possible Israeli strike against Iran” in the same way that her boss promised. But the mixed signals coming out of Washington, and the fact that top officials have refrained from stating clearly that they would veto a strike, have led to speculation in Europe that there is some political logic behind what looks like confusion among the Bushies. Is it possible that Bush and Cheney, backed by the remaining neoconservative foot soldiers, are hoping that Israel will soon remake the Osirak ’81 production in Iran? Such an Israeli action could serve not only as preemptive action against Iran but also against the battalions of realist forces led by Baker, Hamilton, Gates, and Brzezinski, who threaten what remains of the neocon agenda.
. And I concluded with a warning:
Hopes of an Israeli military action breathe life into the neocon geo-strategic corpse that was buried in Iraq and recall similar wishful thinking on the eve of the American decision to green-light the Israeli attack on Hezbollah’s infrastructure in Lebanon last summer. From the office of the vice president to the Pentagon to AEI and The Weekly Standard, officials, wonks, and scribblers fantasized that it was going to be the Six Day War all over again, that Israel would annihilate the Shi’ite militia and Hassan Nasrallah in the same way that it had left the Egyptian military rotting in Sinai and devastated President Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1967. This would strike a major blow to Hezbollah’s patrons, Syria and Iran, and would shift the balance of power in the Middle East in favor of Israel and its sponsor, the United States, which would then be able to regain the momentum in Iraq. Before we knew it, we would have another tipping point in Mesopotamia.

The Israeli operation in Lebanon did serve as a tipping point—by transforming Hezbollah into the most popular anti-Israeli and anti-American force in the Middle East and by shifting the balance of power in the region even further in the direction of Iran. Now just six months after Israel’s fiasco in Lebanon and as the American disaster in Iraq continues to unfold, the usual suspects are once again daydreaming that a lame duck American president will approve military action by a politically drained Israeli prime minister against the leading bad guy in the neoconservative script.

A few days of Israeli bombing may or may not retard the Iranian nuclear program, but it would impede any plan by the realists to engage Iran in an effort to stabilize Iraq, start withdrawing U.S. troops, and change the direction of American policy in the Middle East.

Unlike Steve, I believe that the Olmert government would welcome such a development, hoping that a successful Israeli operation against Iran would not only permit it to surive, but would also deliver a Six-Day-War kind of military blow to Iran in a way that would help transform the balance of power in the region in favor of Israel after the fiasco in Lebanon.

7 comments:

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Comment said...

In 1977, Cy Vance and Jimmy Carter made a series of political blunders (mostly related to arms export policy) that later contributed to the election of Menachem Begin - At the time, this was seen as a total disaster, but it was perhaps a blessing in disguise because it allowed a durable peace agreement to made between someone with rightist creds like and the then highly problematic Sadat. And this is a peace agreement that has lasted. Carter deserves credit, but he's like a doctor with a bad bedside manner.

Now, if the disasterous war against Hezbollah serves to give pause to those who would attack Iran, it too could be seen as a blesssing in disguise for the Israelis and the US (as well as the Iranian people)

Global Paradigms said...

You might be right. But unfortunately, like in the case of the Iraq war, the argument is being made is that the failure to defeat the Hizbollah resulted from specific mistakes, and that "if only" this or that, Israel would have won.

Anonymous said...

That may be true - or not. Some military people - some smart ones, belive Hezbollah is in a stonger position now tactically - militarily and that they will never be defeated by Condi's et al covert action schemes in Lebanon because they have excellent intelligence.

It would be hard to imagine Israel just folding its Nasrallah file and 'move on.' It's easy to imagine a new war in the works - But that may not be wise. There's no reason why a new war would work. Instead, Israel should just end its conflict with Nasrallah and tell him its all over. That would do him more harm than any bomb. He may have terrorist record, but if you can make peace with Arafat, than you can make peace with anyone. Beside peace would rob Nasrallah of the raison d'etre he uses so cleverly in Lebanese political debate.

Global Paradigms said...

I don't have any argument with you there. I also think that a peace agreement with Syria would certainly help the Israelis in terms of dealing with the Hizbollah and protecting the border with Lebanon.

Anonymous said...

I actually think its possible that a peace agreement or understanding/accomodation between Israel and Hizbollah will help Israel deal better with Syria than an agreement with Syria would help with Hizbollah.

The war between Israel and Hizbollah is not as substantial, imo, as the one between Israel and Syria.

But its probably too late for such a creative approach.

Anonymous said...

I actually think its possible that a peace agreement or understanding/accomodation between Israel and Hizbollah will help Israel deal better with Syria than an agreement with Syria would help with Hizbollah.

The war between Israel and Hizbollah is not as substantial, imo, as the one between Israel and Syria.

But its probably too late for such a creative approach. The debate in Israel has shifted in such a way that the 'hawkish' and 'tough' position may not be the one in Israel's interests. Sort of like the US - with Dems afraid to pull out of Iraq even though that is obviously in our interest.