Friday, January 6, 2012

Are Cooler Heads Prevailing in Bomb-Iran Debate?

From Patrick Seale (in Gulf News) comes an argument that in both Israel and the US, those opposed to attacking Iran (most of them in the military and intelligence establishments) are prevailing in the debate surrounding the issue.  (As one bit of evidence, Seale cites the departure of Dennis Ross from Obama/Clinton's Dept of State to the more hospitable environs of WINEP, AIPAC's Siamese-twin think-tank in D.C.  That Ross left was a plus for American interests; that he went to WINEP should have spoken volumes to any who doubted that he was, in fact, one of Israel's chief negotiators in the so-called "peace process.")

But Seale also points out:

Even if none of the parties — Israel, the US and Iran — actually want war or seriously anticipate it, there is always the possibility that war might break out by accident. Targeting Iran’s Central Bank and threatening to boycott its oil exports, as some western nations are proposing to do, create a climate of hysterical nationalism that could trigger a clash. Iran has tried to call the West’s bluff by threatening to close the Strait of Hormuz, but a serious attempt to do so could set the whole region on fire — which is almost certainly the last thing Iran or the US would want. In my view, not too much should be read into Iran’s recent naval manoeuvres in the Gulf, or its testing of new missiles. It has carried out such exercises in the past.

Containment and deterrence are clearly better policies than war-mongering. But they are not without difficulty. Establishing the rules of a system of mutual deterrence can be tricky. The first months, or even years, can prove dangerous until the system is perfected and the rules fully understood by both sides. For the scheme to be safe, a ‘hot line’ between the parties would need urgently to be established.

And, again, as I noted recently, the demonize-Iran rhetoric will be ratcheted up to the max as the November elections approach. Seale suggests that the point will be to win Jewish votes.  Perhaps; but the far more valuable target will be the votes of those millions of Christian evangelicals in whose closed little minds Israel is the US's 51st state - and with the holiest landmarks, at that.

Seale's excellent piece is here.

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