The Iranians Are Determined: Galloping to a Confrontation
By Nadav Eyal
If the world’s strongest military superpower pledges to act when
necessary, why jump the gun?
Translated by Viktoria
Edited by Steven Stenzler
The contempt for the IAEA, the American declaration about an
Israeli attack in the spring and Obama’s forced reassurance
– all these are leading to the point of no return.
It’s fascinating to follow the shadow
diplomacy of the upcoming confrontation with Iran. It ranges from the official
statements to the media talk, and from there – to disinformation and sometimes,
the whole, the United States
and Israel tried hard the
last year to create the infrastructure for a “credible military threat” on Tehran, so that the Iranians
would fully understand the possible ramifications of the continued nuclear
military development. From “all the options on the table” to “Iran won’t have
a bomb,” a series of announcements (and moves as well) for making clear the
credibility of the threat to use force.
This tactic is controversial, it should be said. Meir Dagan*, for example, is
positive that exactly excessive military threats might push Tehran to the corner and cause it to “break
ranks.” His stance has not been accepted so far. The United
States and Israel are doing everything to
corner the Iranians, out of faith that otherwise, the latter won’t have a reason
to compromise. But in the framework of these tactics, too, there are jarring
instance, The Washington Post story.
The American Defense Secretary - asserted senior columnist David Ignatius - believes
has decided to attack in the coming spring and will do so. Ignatius hasn’t brought
a direct quotation of Secretary Panetta, but he also didn’t have to; he
escorted the Defense Secretary on his visit to Brussels. The scoop has not been denied.
Contradicted His Secretary of Defense
there are several possibilities: either Panetta said the things because he believes
so and didn’t mean for them to be published, or he conveyed them and does not have
faith in it – and actually meant for that to go public. A sophisticated brain would
assume straight away that this is about a premeditated leak. The Americans want
the Iranians to be afraid, so they intimidate with the Israeli whip and with airstrikes.
Or perhaps the
Americans know about another time appointed for the attack and are interested
in misleading Tehran.
Or, they may disclose this detail in order to thwart Israel’s offensive intents. Of
course, there’s one more probability: that Panetta spoke way too freely.
Or could it be that
the journalist Ignatius thought that the stuff issued for the sake of background
is in practice sort of “off record” – for writing, however, not for quoting.
The speculations are endless, but this quotation was bad either way: bad for
the global diplomatic efforts (if Israel
has made up its mind – why make an effort?), bad for the United States (that apparently is unable to
exert influence on Jerusalem), and bad for Israel
– should it intend to attack in March.
All this already does not
matter, because this week, there came a response from the White House.
President Obama gave an interview to NBC and had to explicitly say that he does
not believe that Israel
has decided. He contradicted what was alleged by his defense secretary. A heavy
blow for sophisticated minds which never suppose that possibly, a decision
maker would slip on his tongue.
Road Map Has Failed
have been a few more heavy blows this week. For example, a punch to an
optimistic belief that the Iranians would become more flexible vis-à-vis the
IAEA and furnish it with the keys to the beginning of the solution. Tehran has done everything
possible in order to create this impression in the eyes of the delegation of monitors
that recently visited there. According to the news reports before the visit,
for the first time the Iranians were ready to talk about specific allegations
that they are engaged in experiments designated for a military facility.
This week, it
turned out that the visit to Tehran
ended up in a dramatic fiasco. After a relatively successful two days of
discussions, where a road map was established for further diplomatic progress, a
stroke came. Tuesday, the Iranians presented to the team of negotiators on
behalf of the Agency an envelope – and inside, their proposal for continuation
of the contacts.
The way of presenting the document was weird, to say the least. The inspectors
read and got stunned. “We’ve realized that they only want to buy more time
through these negotiations,” a diplomatic source in Vienna commented this week. There would be
another round of talks. Afterwards, unless Russia
all of a sudden become newly religious, the options are steadily getting shut
a Minute for the United
Ultimately, this is
a matter of trust. The United States
don’t attack for the moment. If the Iranians suddenly break the IAEA seals, if
they run for the bomb, we all will know it. Should this happen, the Americans go
on, we commit to act. So promised Obama, and so did Panetta. And as a matter of
fact, the question to be asked is: Why not? If the world’s strongest military
superpower pledges to act when necessary, why jump the gun?
What does Israel
respond? You can only guess that. If this happens, Israel
maybe replies to America,
it’ll already be too late. We won’t know how effective this operation is going
to be. The nuclear arms race in the Middle East
has already begun. In order for it to stop, the Iranians should have the brakes
put on them before they foray to the bomb. And naturally, you’d better not
underestimate the political self-persuasion of the decision makers who preached
for years on the issue of the Iranian threat.
Where is the trust in this picture? In the question of to what extent Barak and
Netanyahu rely on the Americans. To what extent they believe them that if
there’s a need, the United
States will act, and will act fast, and will
ignore the immediate considerations of oil and domestic politics.
If they believe America,
it’s hard to gather why this is worthwhile for our decision makers to take
action now. On the general balance, it’s preferable to wait and believe that the
Americans will do the job, in the case the Iranians
break the rules. If there’s no trust, on the other hand, a unilateral Israeli raid
turns into a far more likely scenario. Again, a question of
The Putin Regime:
Global Arms Dealer
In the stream of
news on Syria, a report went
missing this week that the Amnesty organization published on the situation in Darfur, and particularly, on arms supplies for this
In actual fact,
from Syria and to Sudan,
it’s the same story. Russian, Chinese and Byelorussian weaponry, Amnesty postulates,
is fueling the activities of the government and the violent militias in Darfur. The Chinese and the Russians are dealing the arms
with a clear knowledge that they are to find application in Darfur
province. Among other things, we’re talking guns, air-to-land missiles, Russian
helicopters, Sukhoi aircraft
– glory of the Russian industry. All of them are being shipped to the country
headed by a man who is wanted for trial in the International Criminal Court on
charges of crimes against humanity.
The Putin regime that has been supplying weapons to the Assad family, and also
to the Iranians, is the key supplier of killing tools within the frame of the
ongoing war in Darfur. Only in 2011, almost
100,000 people have lost their homes there – but Moscow
doesn’t care, precisely as it does not care about the residents of [Syrian] Homs or the way it is viewed
around the world. A suspicious mind would even probably opine that this is what
wants, indeed – long and bloodthirsty wars which would provide much employment
for its military industry that, in contrast to the Western one, is not
restricted by U.N. resolutions and morality issues.
Putin has failed in
an attempt to restore Russia’s status as a global [super] power, like in the
days of the Soviet Union, but in one thing he did succeed: to identify a new
vision, after the downfall of the Soviet ideology. It looks like Putin’s envisioning
the new Russia
as a [super] power of Lords of War. If the things continue as they are, this is
no less fatal a master plan – maybe, even more than that of the Communist
* Former Mossad
** The Hebrew image says: ON THE WAY TO
A NUCLEAR BOMB:
The Iranian Threat