For Israel, US Is Key in Whatever Action Is Taken Against Iran
By: Chelo Rosenberg Translated from Maariv (Israel).
Another wrestling match between Prime Minister [Benjamin Netanyahu] and President Obama ended with a long phone call between the two leaders. It is hard to guess what was said in that call. The official announcement supports what Obama has been saying for a long time. “It is our joint commitment to prevent Iran from achieving nuclear weapons.” It is likely that Netanyahu was not satisfied with that answer, when what he wanted was a presidential commitment to set clear red lines for Iran, when crossing those lines would lead to American military action. From the prime minister’s point of view, he is certainly correct. But the problem is not whether the argument is correct, but what [course of action will yield the best] results. American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made it very clear that her country will not erect red lines, certainly not publicly.
About This Article
Israel should stop doubting US determination about Iran, Chelo Rosenberg writes, adding that President Obama has chosen the best option: the diplomatic way that enables the mobilization of more countries to implement sanctions — or support eventual military action.Publisher: Maariv (Israel)
Red Line Diplomacy
Author: Chelo Rosenberg
First Published: September 13, 2012
Posted on: September 18 2012
Translated by: Sandy Bloom
The logic is simple: a superpower cannot lay out red lines that are likely to [boomerang and] harm them in the international arena. In diplomacy it is very difficult to set red lines, or lines of any other color. Life is not made of lines in any specific color. On the other hand, a much better formula for success is close, friendly coordination and relations of trust between two leaders. A wrestling match [between two leaders] on [TV] screens will only make it harder to achieve the goal.
If Israel and the United States stood alone vis-a-vis Iran and if a joint military activity that would bring immediate results was feasible, only then could Israeli criticism of the United States be contained. The problem is that reality dictates otherwise. We must not at all belittle the American commitment to prevent Iran from going nuclear. We must not at all belittle American commitment to Israel’s security. Israel does not have many friends in the world, to say the least. Therefore, we must use our brains and take the circumstances into account.
There is great importance to the way that the United States talks about its actions toward Iran. The United States cannot ignore Iran's messages, and to achieve its goals it's critical that the United States acquires the trust of countries that can potentially join it. The United States does not want to appear to stand to attention and snap to obey Israel’s every dictate. Obama understands that every statement he makes regarding Iran has great influence. According to reports arriving from the US, the administration does not want to give over the impression that it meddles in what takes place in Iran as a sovereign nation.
The United States has reason to reject the Israeli claim that Iran is on the threshold of a nuclear bomb and action must be taken immediately. According to American pundits, a reasonable time period still remains until Iran will cross the nuclear Rubicon. Till then, according to the Obama administration, the diplomatic window of opportunity for averting a nuclear Iran still remains open.
This and more: the United States has tremendous interest in recruiting the countries of the world, especially Western Europe, to adopt economic actions that might paralyze the Iranian economy. The best formula is the adoption of secret diplomatic activity that will not make negative waves in the world — so long as we have not reached the edge of the abyss necessitating military activity. Listen to the following things written by Dennis Ross in his book Statecraft [And How To Restore America’s Standing in the World]. He addresses the issue of co-opting Europe and Japan [to oppose the ramping up of Iran’s nuclear program in 2003-06 under the Bush administration]. Ross wrote [at the time] that it is questionable whether the Europeans and Japanese would join the US in an anti-nuclear-Iran effort, but that less manifest steps would be more politically acceptable. That is because public opinion in those countries is very suspicious of anything smelling of a potential confrontation that would place them on a slippery slope leading to a conflict with Iran.
[Back to the present:] Clearly, [the Europeans and Japanese] have tremendous financial concerns as Europe is undergoing a very serious economic crisis. Far better results can be achieved if Saudi Arabia and the Gulf emirates could be recruited to the efforts to persuade Europe to join the economic sanctions. If the European countries, Japan and China could be persuaded to join the United States in imposing paralyzing sanctions, this could lead to the collapse of the Iranian economy, with all that it entails. Israel would do well to lead a diplomatic process of this kind, quietly and without making waves. Only the United States is capable of recruiting the support of the Europeans and also of influencing China and Japan. And if, despite all, diplomacy is not successful, the United States will still remain the key to mobilize an international coalition for military action in Iran.
The author is a historian specializing in national security.
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