Ira­nian ac­tions and Amer­i­can diplo­macy

The Washington Times Weekly - - Editorials -

Iran’s mul­lahs are set to achieve what decades of west­ern diplo­macy could not — bring about Arab/Is­raeli dé­tente. Fears of nu­clear weapons in the hands of Tehran’s rev­o­lu­tion­ary Shi­ite regime are forc­ing a shot­gun mar­riage of Tel Aviv and the Sunni Arab states in a stun­ning tri­umph of power pol­i­tics over his­tor­i­cal ha­treds. The Wash­ing­ton Times re­cently had an op­por­tu­nity to sit down with an Is­raeli source who told us, “You’d be amazed at how we see eye-to-eye with the moderate Arab states.”

The prospect of an Ira­nian A-bomb is not the stuff of neo­con fan­tasies. In Fe­bru­ary the In­ter­na­tional Atomic En­ergy Agency re­ported that Iran has suf­fi­cient raw ma­te­ri­als to build a nu­clear weapon, and noted that the “con­tin­ued lack of co­op­er­a­tion by Iran [. . .] gives rise to con­cerns about pos­si­ble mil­i­tary di­men­sions of Iran’s nu­clear pro­gram.” The cen­ter-left In­sti­tute for Sci­ence and In­ter­na­tional Se­cu­rity re­ported in De­cem­ber that Iran “is ex­pected to reach [the nu­clear ca­pa­bil­ity] mile­stone dur­ing 2009 un­der a wide va­ri­ety of sce­nar­ios.” Even the much (and rightly) de­rided De­cem­ber 2007 U.S. Na­tional In­tel­li­gence Es­ti­mate found that the ear­li­est Iran would have a nu­clear ca­pa­bil­ity was in 2010, which if you haven’t checked your cal­en­dar lately is about nine months from now.

While the ad­min­is­tra­tion is fix­ated on the Pales­tinian prob­lem, Iran is chang­ing the strate­gic map of the Mid­dle East in its drive for re­gional hege­mony. In fact, the Pales­tinian is­sue is rapidly be­com­ing an ex­ten­sion of Ira­nian am­bi­tions. Egyp­tian Pres­i­dent Hosni Mubarak noted archly that Tehran’s con­sid­er­able sup­port for Ha­mas means that in prac­ti­cal terms Egypt “shares a bor­der with Iran.” Saudi For­eign Min­is­ter Prince Saud alFaisal has de­cried Ira­nian sup­port for non-state ac­tors like Ha­mas and Hezbol­lah. At this point no peace with Is­rael will be pos­si­ble without Iran’s per­mis­sion, and the Arab states would be happy to see this is­sue go away.

While we would pre­fer a diplo­matic rather than mil­i­tary so­lu­tion to the Iran- the Saudi regime and es­tab­lish a pro­tec­torate over Mecca and Me­d­ina. The no­tion of Per­sian Shi’ites in Mecca is far more alarm­ing to the Arab Sunni states than Is­raeli con­trol of Jerusalem. The depth of the schism be­tween Iran and the Arab states was ev­i­dent dur­ing the re­cent Gaza War when most sided with Is­rael. We pre­sume that Is­rael can count on their as­sis­tance if mil­i­tary action against Iran be­comes nec­es­sary.

Some be­lieve that Iran will stop short of weaponiza­tion, that Tehran will be sat­is­fied with the de­ter­rent ef­fect of hav-

Of course there is no rea­son to be­lieve that Is­rael and Iran will be the only nu­clear play­ers. In the past few years all the ma­jor Arab states have de­clared their in­ten­tions to seek some form of nu­clear ca­pa­bil­ity, rev­ers­ing years of poli­cies seek­ing a nu­clear-free Mid­dle East. Should Iran get the bomb the world faces the prob­a­bil­ity of a mas­sive and desta­bi­liz­ing re­gional arms race. The Cold War chess match would be re­placed with a free-for-all gang war which the U.S. would be pow­er­less to stop. Throw in the pos­si­bil­ity of ter­ror­ists be­ing given a nu­clear weapon for a strike at the Amer­i­can home­land and the threat be­comes even more dire.

The United States ap­proaches this is­sue as though it can con­trol events, but Iran, Is­rael and other coun­tries in the re­gion will not wait for the stately pro­cesses of Amer­i­can diplo­macy. The strate­gic map in the Mid­dle East will change with us or without us. The time is rapidly ap­proach­ing when there will be no best­case sce­nar­ios, only a dwin­dling num­ber of very hard choices. Mean­while, Ira­nian arms con­tinue to kill U.S. troops in Iraq, and there are re­ports of weapons from Tehran surg­ing into Afghanistan. The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s “grand bar­gain­ers” seek an open­ing to the Is­lamic Repub­lic while a con­fi­dent Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ah­madine­jad sneers at “child­ish” U.S. sanc­tions and has de­clared Iran a space power and nu­clear power. “You take your de­ci­sions, and we do our work,” he said. “You are too small to block our path.” The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion has yet to prove him wrong.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.