Methinks Tom Friedman doth overstate Israeli animosity towards Iran:
We, America, are not just hired lawyers negotiating a deal for Israel and the Sunni Gulf Arabs, which they alone get the final say on. We, America, have our own interests in not only seeing Iran’s nuclear weapons capability curtailed, but in ending the 34-year-old Iran-U.S. cold war, which has harmed our interests and those of our Israeli and Arab friends.
Hence, we must not be reluctant about articulating and asserting our interests in the face of Israeli and Arab efforts to block a deal that we think would be good for us and them. America’s interests today lie in an airtight interim nuclear deal with Iran that also opens the way for addressing a whole set of other issues between Washington and Tehran.
I’m holding my tongue on the wisdom of interim agreements and just how airtight the “first-step” deal discussed in Geneva was. But Friedman continues:
Some of our allies don’t share those “other” interests and believe the only acceptable outcome is bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities and keeping Iran an isolated, weak, pariah state. They don’t trust this Iranian regime — and not without reason. I don’t begrudge their skepticism. Without pressure from Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and the global sanctions on Iran they helped to spur, Iran would not be offering to scale back its nuclear program today.
But that pressure was never meant to be an end itself. It was meant to bring Iran in from the cold, provided it verifiably relinquished the ability to breakout with a nuclear weapon.
I’d like to see an end to the Iranian-Western conflict. And I’d like to see Iran rejoin the family of nations, including normal relations with Israel. In that context, the pressure’s not an end unto itself. I’d much prefer a peaceful resolution to the nuclear standoff.
But for too many years, Ayatollah Khamenei’s regime has talked about destroying Israel, bankrolled terror, and repressed it own citizens. Iranian missiles may not yet reach the US, but they can certainly reach Israel and Europe. The longer-term US interests Friedman refers to won’t measure up to reality unless the Obama administration entertains the idea of regime change.
Israel doesn’t have a problem with the Iranian people. Before the 1979 revolution, relations were normal and Israel reportedly helped Iran’s peaceful nuclear program.
But that was a long time ago.
(Image via YouTube/Al Jazeera English)