BLOG 249 April 19, 2015
The Obama administration and State Department have a distinctive perspective on what negotiations on nuclear armaments can accomplish in Iran. If embraced by the West as a legitimate partner, they believe Iran would stop behaving like a rogue state and emerge from political isolation that began with the Islamic revolution in 1979. They recognize that Iran’s support of terrorism and refusal to recognize the right of Israel to exist will not stop. Still, they point to the election of a moderate like President Rohani as a symbol of a desire for change within the state of Iran.
Israeli officials view any agreement with Iran as unviable and sustainable. They believe the US administration is dreaming and unrealistic about the struggle for power in the Middle East and do not understand the religious hatred that motivates the support of terrorism and continuing warfare. Netanyahu’s government believes that as surrounding states collapse, Iran marches into the void and willattempt to dominate capitals like Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and Yemen’s capital Sanaa.
Past history is cited by Israel to support their contention that the United Nations is a poor arena for resolution of these issues. They see the UN as a place of insidious political warfare and believe, as an institution, this organization is worse than useless and are more likely to be part of the problem.
The Obama administration believes the United Nations is a forum for negotiations and settling disputes through non-violent means. They believe the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is adequate for inspecting Iran’s nuclear facilities and discovering any violations. Obama points not to trust, but to verification and inspection as the most important guard against any violation of a treaty.
Obama’s retreat from leadership in the Middle East reflects the American public’s desire to exit from struggles like the longest war in their history in Afghanistan. George Bush’s foolish claim of victory in Iraq that only preceded an intensification of the war has made the American public weary of war. Because of these factors, America’s leadership is now suspect in this section of the world.
On the other hand, the major threats against Israel include a nuclear Iran, violent Shi’ite expansion, and radical Sunni terrorism. Israel has no place to retreat. Their country remains the battleground.
Probably, these differences can only be sorted out by history. Who is right or wrong can only be answered by the passing of time. However, the Obama view is that small steps are better than no steps at all. A verifiable treaty accomplishes more for the future than nothing at all. Netanyahu is not wrong in his concern, but his path to continued confrontation can only end increased conflict.
Hopefully, Congress will recognize that something is better than nothing.