Iran, Israel and an Obama miscalculation in the works?

President Obama’s apparent desire to move forcefully against Iran with new sanctions within weeks, not months, makes me wonder if he is calculating that he will be in a better position to put some real pressure on Israel, and possibly bring about regime change there, if he can successfully bully Iran into playing the game his way. If that is what Obama is thinking, he could be setting himself up (or is being set up?) for another humiliation.

On one level of argument there is a case for saying that if he could persuade Tehran to meet his requirements on the development of its nuclear program, he could then say to Israel something very like, “I’ve neutralized the Iranian threat, now you must give an absolute priority to making peace with the Palestinians.”

Leaving aside for the moment the matter of Iran’s response to more aggressive bullying, the problem with that way of thinking is what it ignores. Israel’s leaders and AIPAC are playing up the Iranian threat not because they truly believe that a nuclear armed Iran would pose a threat to the Zionist state’s existence, but because it, the asserted threat, is an effective way of limiting the White House’s freedom to pressure Israel. The point?

Even if Obama did succeed in getting what he wants from Iran, that would not improve his chances of bringing Israel to heel, with or without regime change. So from that perspective, Obama would end up being humiliated again. But there is a much worse, even catastrophic scenario.

What if moving quickly and forcefully with new sanctions on Iran did not bring about a policy change in Tehran?

Obama would then have painted himself into a corner where his options would be either to say, in effect, “We’ve got to live with the fact that Iran might possess nuclear weapons,” or to give Israel the green light to attack Iran and risk the U.S. being drawn into a war which might not end until the whole Middle East was in flames and the global economy had been completely wrecked.

That would be quite some miscalculation.

5 comments on this post.
  1. Tom Mysiewicz:

    After the pathetic attempts of Saddam to “comply” (like destroying intermediate-range missile tubes) and the subsequent “shock and awe” invasion of Iraq–the Iranians would have to be a bit touched if they thought anything they did would affect ther outcome. The traditional burden of proof in the West has been: “Prove it”. The burden of proof was on an accuser. This has been turned on its head into: “Prove you did NOT do it”. You cannot prove to the satisfaction of the Neocons and Israel that “you didn’t do it” if you are Iran. Alan, I remember hearing the same things said about Iraq–once we get Saddam out of the way and neutralize Iraq the Israelis will be able to make a better deal with the Palestinians because they won’t “feel threatened”. It’s all wishful thinking. And Israel may not want to talk about WMDs Iran probably does have, possibly because some of its people might not be crazy enough to want to be killed. So we might be starting out with a dishonest premise, i.e., that the Israelis are solely concerned with “nukes”. Which is why Obama may be miscalculating.

  2. Fakhri:

    Dear Alan,
    You got this head on. Obama appears to be a big gambler,
    albeit one who exxagerates his chances of a win.He
    is better off realizing that neither he nor the other three
    hypocrites France,Germany and Britain have any legitimate
    claim on Iran, and that the latter will not likely
    toe their line.Israel, I feel, is more vulnerable now
    than she has been in sixty odd years,and there is the
    risk that Obama may have been set up.That risk could
    precisely be what any lunatic decision-maker/s in the
    current Israeli government may manage to stage. And isn’t
    there plenty of them around?

  3. Mikael B.:

    Just two thoughts:

    1) What about the often-to-be-read assertion that a nuclear-armed Iran would make many people and a lot of investments leave Israel? Is this belief not something that many on the right and on the left agree upon? What it effectively says is that Israel’s own irrational exuberance would put it at a disadvantage, preventing it from seeking a stable relationship based on mutual deterrence.

    2) This thought is based on assessments that have appeared on the Stratfor website (which is usually friendly towards Israel). They have recently written that the US currently do not have any good options regarding Iran. Militarily, as already noted, Iran has too many ways of hitting US and Western interests; santions-wise, Russia and China do not seem to be prepared to go along. So, is it not all the more important for Obama to build a coalition of Arab states which, in its turn, requires putting pressure on Israel to gain legitimacy? That’s all based on the assumption that the Western powers do have a genuine imperialist interest in preventing Iran from going nuclear.


  4. Israel benefits from sanctions against Islamic Iran « Rehmat's World:

    [...] Hart in his latest post Iran, Israel and an Obama miscalculation in the works?┬ásuggested to Barack Obama something which had been demanded by Zionist entity’s all [...]

  5. Abu Ammar Mangorangca:

    So far Obama has not shown enough political will to do justice in the Middle East, despite the rhetoric. The long-standing hold of AIPAC and the neocon in the direction of American policy seems too formidable for him to shake.

    I hope he can show more mettle and decisiveness to seek what is truly for the interest of the United States and the world at large.

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