Israel Doesn’t Give a Hoot About Iranian Nukes

John Glaser, October 01, 2013

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In the coming weeks and months, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is likely to “dedicate himself to derailing any prospect for a diplomatic breakthrough” between the United States and Iran. And the reasons have nothing at all to do with Iran’s nuclear program.

Instead, Israeli intransigence on the Iran issue is motivated by two factors: (1) maintaining regional military superiority and hegemony, and (2) distracting from the Israeli-Palestinian issue.

I mentioned this briefly in a post yesterday, but Daniel Levy, director of the Middle East and North Africa program at the European Council on Foreign Relations and a senior research fellow at the New America Foundation, devotes an entire piece in Foreign Policy to this very point. Here is the must-read excerpt:

At the moment, however, Netanyahu is signaling that there is no realistic deal that would be acceptable to Israel. For instance, a consensus exists among experts and Western officials that Iran’s right to enrich uranium — in a limited manner and under international supervision — for its civilian nuclear energy program will be a necessary part of any agreement. Netanyahu rejects this.

If Iran is willing to cut a deal that effectively provides a guarantee against a weaponization of its nuclear program, and that deal is acceptable to the president of the United States of America, why would Netanyahu not take yes for an answer?

The reason lies in Netanyahu’s broader view of Israel’s place in the region: The Israeli premier simply does not want an Islamic Republic of Iran that is a relatively independent and powerful actor. Israel has gotten used to a degree of regional hegemony and freedom of action — notably military action — that is almost unparalleled globally, especially for what is, after all, a rather small power. Israelis are understandably reluctant to give up any of that.

Israel’s leadership seeks to maintain the convenient reality of a neighboring region populated by only two types of regimes. The first type is regimes with a degree of dependence on the United States, which necessitates severe limitations on challenging Israel (including diplomatically). The second type is regimes that are considered beyond the pale by the United States and as many other global actors as possible, and therefore unable to do serious damage to Israeli interests.

…There are other reasons for Netanyahu to oppose any developments that would allow Iran to break free of its isolation and win acceptance as an important regional actor with which the West engages. The current standoff is an extremely useful way of distracting attention from the Palestinian issue, and a diplomatic breakthrough with Iran would likely shine more of a spotlight on Israel’s own nuclear weapons capacity. But the key point to understand in interpreting Netanyahu’s policy is this: While Obama has put aside changing the nature of the Islamic Republic’s political system, Israel’s leader is all about a commitment to regime change — or failing that, regime isolation — in Tehran. And he will pursue that goal even at the expense of a workable deal on the nuclear file.

The myth that Israeli, and by extension American, rhetoric against Iran is centered on an alleged threat of nuclear weapons proliferation and even use ought to be put to rest once and for all. That is merely a public sales campaign to drum up enough fear and hatred of Iran so that the above-mentioned strategic interests can be realized.

The only question that remains is whether President Obama has the cajones to stand up to Bibi and deliver a sensible deal with Iran over Israel’s objections.




10 Responses to “Israel Doesn’t Give a Hoot About Iranian Nukes”

  1. I would go a step further and argue that an Iran free of sanctions and of the threat of attack by the U.S. would provide serious economic competition to Israel, both in investments in the region and in the sale of oil and natural gas. Israel and the energy companies which support it may be concerned that Iran, for example through the Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline, could undercut them in sales of natural gas to Europe, just when Israel will relying on its reserves in its Leviathan and Tamar offshore wells to gain economic independence.

  2. I've said something like half of Levy's 2nd to last paragraph: ~~'they need witches to justify their existence, so they're surrounded by covens,' explaining the preference of Al Qaeda over Assad. Doesn't seem to cover the second part: dependent on US therefore neutered. But I don't believe they'd leave their neighbors, or even the world, in that state indefinitely. Say that next week all their immediate neighbors are either totally dependent on their todies or so marginalized that they can't credibly challenge them in areas they wish to dominate. Are they 'done' with them? And is it protecting-their-interests so much as leaving room to find new interests..? This preference for keeping 'their neighbors' ill doesn't represent something that can stop at some finite goal. They're a verb, not a noun : "What is happiness?—The feeling that power increases—that resistance is overcome. Not contentment, but more power."

  3. In the coming weeks and months, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is likely to “dedicate himself to derailing any prospect for a diplomatic breakthrough” between the United States and Iran. And the reasons have nothing at all to do with Iran’s nuclear program.

  4. [...] been done to thaw the U.S.-Iran relationship. And Netanyahu will get exactly what he wanted (see here for why he wants [...]

  5. Politicians……why does anyone ever listen to them?

  6. [...] been done to thaw the U.S.-Iran relationship. And Netanyahu will get exactly what he wanted (see here for why he wants [...]

  7. Why does noone ask "what would Exxon-Mobil want?" There's been so much excellent analysis since the 2003 Iraq war about the role of oil, the price of oil, who gets to sell it and to whom (Greg Palast for one has done some great research on this), and an exploration of how big western oil and gas interests, and gulf petromonarchies, benefit from the sanctions. Following the money is what you have to do to understand what drives governments and politicians like Netanyahu. He will be paid handsomely, very handsomely, the issue of Israel's security is cover for the real interests here. Doesn't that make sense?? After all why would the GCC be conducive? And of course there's the issue of maintaining the American petrodollar. Oil and gas, the glaring elephant in the room.

  8. What an ironic picture of a Zionist zealot showing how to blow people up…how long can this state of affairs carry on? The "good guys" are the bad guys. There is no moral benchmark anymore.

    The ICC should arraign these terrorists, what else is an international court supposed to be for? The "God" of Zion demands perpetual human sacrifice, an abomination that is a complete monstrosity and insult to civilization. The truth is that Israel is not at all Jewish, it is a psychotic liability to the whole world, playing with radioactive fire all the while masquerading as an injured party.

    The game is truly up, with inexorable demands for a WMD exclusion zone in the region. Netanyahu is desperate, a proper yahoo. His moral cover is blown. Bye-bye Bibi. You've too much innocent blood and white phosphorus on your hands pal ~ talk about the "harm" that "good men" do…(Russell.)

  9. Feinstein’s powerful service to Big Brother, reaching new heights in recent months, is just getting started. She’s hard at work to muddy all the waters of public discourse she can – striving to protect the NSA from real legislative remedies while serving as a key political enabler for President Obama’s shameless abuse of the First,

  10. Feinsteina??s powerful service to Big Brother, reaching new heights in recent months, is just getting started. Shea??s hard at work to muddy all the waters of public discourse she can a?? striving to protect the NSA from real legislative remedies while serving as a key political enabler for President Obamaa??s shameless abuse of the First,