Tuesday, May 05, 2009
There are many arguments for and against a rapprochement with Iran, and I tend to lean in favor, or would if I had confidence that the current American administration were not more interested in the approval of the chattering classes than our national interest and ambition. That said, the argument is a close one, notwithstanding candidate Obama's broadside criticism of the Bush administration's more aggressive stance toward the Islamic Republic. Well, now President Obama is learning that twin planks of his foreign policy platform -- more accomodation toward Iran and more cooperation with our "traditional allies" -- are at least partly incompatible. That he why he sent Robert Gates, the Bush administration's holdover in his cabinet, "on a delicate mission to soothe Mideast allies' concerns about American efforts to open diplomatic relations with Iran." And, lest you thought otherwise, the allies in question are not Israel.
A removed observer, which in this case seems to include the governments of Egypt and Saudi Arabia, might think that the Obama administration was trading two allies in the hand for one in the bush.
The question, of course, is why these allies do not simply believe President Obama's reassurances, and why the mission is so "delicate"? Could it be that there was some geopoitical value to the Bush administration's policy after all?
And, in related news, is it really smart to say that it will be easier to "thwart" Iran if the Israelis and Palestinians make peace?
Last month, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned Israel that it risks losing Arab support for combating threats from Iran if it rejects peace negotiations with the Palestinians.
The Gates mission suggests that something akin to the opposite is true: That the United States risks losing Arab support if it fails to combat threats from Iran. Arab governments are far more worried about Iran than Israel, or, even, the Palestinians, who they have failed to help in any substantive way for more than 60 years.
I was thinking about this the other day. The Iranians actually need two deliverable nukes to complete their program. The first goes to Israel and takes out some random portion of that country. The second goes to Saudi and takes out Mecca.
Iranian opposition to Israel is nothing more than an argument that says we can lead the muslim world better than the Saudis can. Destruction of Mecca, with blame going to the US or Israel, has to be on the Iranian tactics list.
A friend of mine once hypothesized (actually upon the invasion of Iraq) that Bush was surrounding Iran in a sort of protective way, from Israel or anything on the East. I always thought that was an interesting perspective. It both puts pressure on Iran to not act out, and it allows the United States almost total control of Middle Eastern politics (and therefore peace) by just the occupation of two relatively weak and unstable countries.