The Israeli conundrum: How to deal with Iran
By Ramzy Baroud
Online Journal Contributing Writer
Aug 3, 2009, 00:42
Israeli officials are facing a conundrum that may take more
than military muscle flexing to resolve. The problem is �how to deal with Iran.�
The solution to this dilemma will require no less than sheer political genius.
It must be frustrating for Israeli policymakers and their
friends and backers elsewhere to stand idle as Iran openly carries on with its
nuclear enrichment program, facing nothing but US and European chest-thumping
and a mere threat of more sanctions, which will unlikely bend Iranian resolve.
It�s doubly frustrating considering the relative ease that
lead the US, its timid coalition and Israeli cheerleaders to unleash a war
against Iraq. Alas, those days are long gone. Now, the US is anxiously cloaking
its failure in Iraq by pressing the need to tend to more urgent battles
elsewhere, namely Afghanistan.
Regardless of why the US targeted Iraq, and why it�s
objectives were not met, Israel�s own calculations were a surprising success,
as the Iraqi menace (manufactured or real) has been eliminated, and the ghost
of chaos will likely haunt that unfortunate country for years to come.
Now, it�s Iran�s turn. In fact, it has been Iran�s turn for
years, but nothing seems to be moving on that front. If the Iraq experiment was
successful, the US would have definitely jumped at the opportunity to trample
Iran, an oil-rich country with crucially strategic positioning. Controlling
Iran would have been the missing piece of the puzzle that would push the
borders of US control and influence to lock horns, if necessary, with the
emerging Asian giants, and of course, Russia. But a US military move against
Iran, under the current circumstances is no less than military suicide. Iraq
has established the limits of US military capabilities, inspiring the Taliban
to ascertain their own. July 2009 has gone down in history as the month with
the highest causalities among US forces. Deadly July is promising many repeats
as daring Taliban and all sorts of tribal militias in Afghanistan emerge
stronger and savvier than before.
A large US scale military attack, and needless to say,
invasion and subsequent occupation of Iran is simply unfeasible. If such
imprudence ever actualized, all hell would break loose in Iraq as well,
considering the solid political and sectarian ties that unite both countries,
which also share a common border.
This is precisely the source of frustration among Israeli
officials, who have counted on US military generosity to bully Israel�s
enemies, or, as was the case in Iraq, to take them down.
Israeli frustration must�ve also turned into sheer rage when
Hillary Clinton once more brought up the subject of a �defense umbrella� over
the Middle East to shield it from a future nuclear Iran.
�If the United States extends a defense umbrella over the region,
if we do even more to develop the military capacity of those in the Gulf, it is
unlikely that Iran will be any stronger or safer because they won�t be able to
intimidate and dominate as they apparently believe they can once they have a
nuclear weapon,� she was quoted as saying in a Thai television interview.
Clinton�s reinvention of the defense umbrella idea -- introduced in a March 4
report by a pro-Israeli think tank, Washington Institute on Near East Policy
(WINEP) -- stands at odds with her enthusiastic promise to �totally obliterate�
Iran should it attack Israel, while trying to lure in supporters during her
last year�s run for the Democratic presidential nomination. It seems that the
US -- despite the use of threatening language � is edging towards living with
and �containing� a nuclear Iran, but, expectedly, Israel is not.
The right-wing government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu is now maneuvering to entice a tougher US position towards Iran,
especially as the recent internal destabilization of the Islamic Republic
failed to deliver. Israeli maneuvers are both political and military. The Times
reported on a quid pro quo deal where Israeli �concessions� regarding its
illegal settlements in occupied Palestinian territories are to be reciprocated
with a Western nod for an Israeli strike on Iran�s nuclear facilities. �Israel
has chosen to place [the] Iranian threat over its settlements,� a senior EU
diplomat told The Times on July 16.
That political scheme was supplemented by a show of force,
as two Israeli missile class warships and a submarine capable of launching a
nuclear missile strike were reportedly permitted to sail through the Egyptian
Suez Canal for the first time. The unprecedented deployment into the Red Sea
was meant as a signal that Iran is within Israeli range. The message, however,
carried perhaps a deeper political meaning that Israel is capable of striking
Iran with the help of regional allies. In other words, Israel is hardly the
isolated party in this conflict. More, considering serious US attempts aimed at
weakening the Syria-Iran alliance, the Suez Canal message was even more
politically loaded, although its military value is yet to be determined.
Militarily, things are not very promising, as the highly
touted Israeli military exercise -- conducted recently in the United States --
registered little success. Israel called off tests of its Arrow anti-missile
system due to technical problems. The Arrow program, which is half-funded by
the United States, is meant to intercept and destroy such Iranian missiles as
As the US military option against Iran largely dissipates,
Israel�s frustration and worries grow. If Iran is not neutralized militarily --
as the US did Iraq -- then a nuclear Iran is a matter of time. If Israel
strikes Iran, there are no guarantees that such an act -- which will certainly
harm US strategic interests -- will in any way destroy, or even slow down the
Iranian nuclear program.
The US and its European allies seem out of ideas regarding
�how to deal with Iran,� leaving Israel with a major conundrum: either living
in the shadow of a nuclear Iran, as a long-term regional power, or striking the
Islamic Republic with the hope that its erroneously perceived �shaky� regime
will quickly crumble, leaving the US to pick up the pieces, and the whole
region to deal with the chaos that will surely follow.Ramzy Baroud is an author and
editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His work has been published in many
newspapers and journals worldwide. His latest book is The
Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People�s
Struggle (Pluto Press, London,) and his
forthcoming book is, �My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza The Untold Story�
(Pluto Press, London).
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