Thursday, January 26, 2012

EU Sanctions on Iran to Head Off an Israel-launched War?

From Barbara Slavin at IPS comes a report that highlights US self-satisfaction with the EU's newly hardening stance against Iran, which recently culminated in harsher sanctions against Tehran, but that also suggests quite strongly that the EU's harsher approach reflects the extent to which the EU is essentially running scared before the Israelis' persistent threat to take military action and thereby plunge the region - and beyond - into a potentially catastrophic war:

European and U.S. experts on Iran cite the fear of a new war as a key reason for the EU decision. 

"The French administration is worried about Israel attacking Iran this year," a French researcher, speaking on condition of anonymity because he advises the French government, told IPS Wednesday. 

British Foreign Secretary William Hague, answering questions Tuesday in the House of Commons, said the new sanctions are designed to "to lead us away from any conflict by increasing the pressure for a peaceful settlement of these disputes." 

The EU decision reflects Israeli success in pressuring both the United States and Europe. Israeli officials have repeatedly called for "crippling" sanctions against Iran, suggesting that might forestall their use of military force against Iran's nuclear facilities – and collateral damage in terms of sharply higher oil prices and increased regional instability. 

There is particular concern that Israel might act in 2012 out of concern that Iran is nearing nuclear weapons capability and in the belief that the Barack Obama administration would be obliged to support Israel in a U.S. presidential election year. 

Remarkable, isn't it?  The supposed "light unto the nations" is able to hype what remains a non-existent existential threat into its own private casus belli, yet still feel confident enough of the good will (or, perhaps more accurately, domestic political realities) of the so-called "Great Powers" to blackmail them (us) into ramping up what already is amounting to an economic war that, frankly, is taking a much direr toll on the Iranian people than on the decision-makers of the Islamist regime.  And all of this, over a nuclear program that the Iranians are, in fact, entitled to develop, as long as there's no proof that said program is being weaponized.  As of this moment, there is no such proof.  And quite frankly, given their history since 1980, which has included an invasion by Iraq under Saddam Hussein (who was supported by the US, whose navy effectively entered that war on Iraq's side with its actions in the Persian Gulf), followed by an invasion and occupation of Iraq by US-Anglo forces (during which the word in DC's halls of neocon wisdom was that real men go on to Tehran) - - how could anyone possibly blame them for wanting to possess a nuclear deterrent?

I have a proposal.  The minute that it becomes plain that the IDF is indeed going to strike Iran and risk plunging us all into the abyss, the United Nations impose, immediately, economic sanctions of the harshest, most stringent kind on the state of Israel - and authorize all needed military action to induce the Israeli government to cease and desist in any military action against Iran.

Think that could ever happen?   Naaaah.

But imagine if it did.  Might that be just the kind of crisis that might, at long last, create the diplomatic leverage that might truly lead to a result that would benefit us all?  I mean, specifically, the outlawing of all nuclear weapons in the Middle East - Israel included.  (OK, the entire planet would be nice, but I'm willing to start off small.)  Would that mean that the Arab countries would then turn against Israel and try to fulfill the Nasser-era pledges of driving the Israelis into the sea?  I think not - and, at any rate, the UN (with the US and its allies) could surely pledge themselves to ensure Israel's security.  But losing its nuclear trump card might force the Israelis to make some of those "painful concessions" that Netanyahu and his predecessors have so often talked about, but not make any serious effort to follow through:

  • evacuate all settlements from the West Bank
  • share Jerusalem with a truly sovereign Palestinian people
  • make some provision for at least a limited right of exiled Palestinians to a land where they have at least as strong and legitimate a birthright as the millions of Jews who emigrated there in the 20th century.

Might that mark the end of Israel as a "Jewish state."  Perhaps.  But might not the creation of a truly binational, or multinational, Israel/Palestine/whatever become a blessing for all involved?  The Palestinians restored to their homeland; the Jews of Israel no longer imprisoned by the bunker mentality with which they now are afflicted.  Indeed, might not the creation of such an Israel be a true "light unto the nations"?

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