I have never understood why anyone expected any U.S. action on Iran’s nuclear program. Basically there was never any chance the U.S. would undertake any armed action or allow Israel to do so. That may be a good idea, and it may have been inevitable.
But there was no chance in anything else, even if Barack Obama might never have been president. Here’s what was going to happen:
–The U.S. would impose economic sanctions.
Yet there was never a chance these would fully succeed. There was too much cheating, and China, Russia, and Turkey were among there was exempt.
–Negotiations would fail because Iran would stall, play games, and try to use trickery.
–So Iran would eventually get nuclear weapons.
–The U.S. would then use containment. That would not necessarily be bad but the point was containment as in the Cold War or merely a narrow containment to try to prevent use of nuclear weapons?
Yet now something very weird has happened:
Hassan Rouhani won the election.
Let’s review. Rouhani is a veteran national security official. He was backed by the regime. The voters would not be allowed a choice of a reformer so they could only vote for a phony one.
Now what then happened?
“President Rouhani says Iran will never develop nuclear weapons.” But that is what Iranian leaders have always claimed!
The Los Angeles Times applauded that ten dissidents were released. But they weren’t , even though the newaspaper said, “It’s Rouhani’s strongest signal yet that he aims to keep a pledge to improve ties with the West.” But he didn’t do it!
“Rouhani said I have full authority to make a deal with the West. But that’s what they said too!
They also had a phony New Year’s greeting to the Jews. Rouhani added a Jew to the UN delegation of Iran, no doubt to tell how well they were treated. So Rouhan loves the Jews and wants to make peace.
Obama swallowed the bait, eagerly.
But note that Rouhani does not have a moderate record–he has bragged about fooling the West about Iran’s nuclear program before–and meanwhile Iran now has troops in Syria. [In a speech, one Iranian cleric said, “If we lose Syria, we cannot keep Tehran].”
What suckers Americans are. They’ll still be talking about Iranian nukes on the day they get them and probably that’s true for Syria giving up chemical weapons, too.
But no it is Israel that wants to plunge the world into war/! The New York Times writes:
“Netanyahu Scoffs at Iranian Overtures, Setting Stage for Showdown With U.S.”
It is Israel that “scoffs” and that scoffing is setting up a U.S.-Israel “showdown” because America would understandably rather have a nice peace than a war with Iran. Yet there is no indication that experiences shows Israel might be right.
The Times writes:
“Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, moved quickly to block even tentative steps by Iran and the United States to ease tensions and move toward negotiations to end the nuclear crisis, signaling what is likely to be a sustained campaign by Israel to head off any deal.”
But this is a lie. Netanyahu cannot “block” an initiative and if Obama wants talks he will have them. And it is assumed that the initiative will succeed “toward negotiations to end the nuclear crisis.” Peace in our time!
Yet there is one more piece of poison. The reader is warned that there will be “a sustained campaign by Israel to head off any deal. Israel will frantically try to head off an attempt to make peace.” Bad Israel!
In fact it is obviously others who want to claim a deal is certain and that Iran wants one.
Like Vladimir Putin on the Syria deal it is Rouhani that gets an op-ed, in the Washington Post instead of the Times, to make his claim and be cheered.
Already there has been a pay-off for Iran in a series of European Union court decisions which recommended the removal of unilateral sanctions against dozens of Iranian firms, including crucial shipping lines. The European states show they are eager to drop sanctions because of the money to be made.
Rami G. Khouri writes: “The positive possibilities that could emanate from the escalating signs of a direct Iranian-American engagement are dazzling in their intensity and historic in their scope. Rarely in modern history has the Middle East region experienced such a hopeful moment as this, when one major diplomatic shift towards productive American-Iranian relations could positively impact half a dozen conflicts in the region.”
On what evidence?
“Will Iran trade Al-Assad?, says al-Ahram. when it looks like Iran is actually escalating the civil war ”Syria deal holds a lesson for Barack Obama–talk to Iran,” says an op-ed in the Financial Times. Reuters”calls the regime a “centrist government.”
The Guardian tells us: “After years of seeing their personal freedoms and political demands quashed, young Iranians hope the efforts of the new government led by President Hassan Rouhani will create open up Iranian society and restore the country’s standing on the world stage.” On what evidence?
About the only article reminding us that Tehran is an ideological and sworn enemy of America that wants to deceive it was Ray Takeyh, an Iran expert who has worked at the National Security Council. Speaking of an article in an Iranian newspaper he said:
“The article stressed that former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad‘s confrontational policies and reckless rhetoric had caused the international community to perceive Iran as threatening and dangerous. In that context, Iran’s quest for nuclear empowerment was bound to be resisted by the great powers. And cleverly manipulated by the United States and Israel, the United Nations censured Iran and imposed debilitating sanctions on its fledgling economy.
“The editorial went on to say that to escape this predicament, Iran had to change its image. A state that is considered ‘trustworthy and ‘accountable’ is bound to be provided with some leeway. Iran can best achieve its nuclear aspirations not by making systematic concessions on the scope of its program but by altering the overall impression of its reliability as a state.”
Otherwise, all problems can be settled with the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran, with the help of Russia and Turkey. Israel, in contrast, is unreliable, preferring an avoidable confrontation. Funny, so Iran no longer regards America as the Great Satan but as the Great Sucker.
Beware of Iranians bearing gifts, and even more aware of Iranians that aren’t.
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Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs
(GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International
Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest book, Israel: An Introduction, has just been published by Yale University Press. Other
recent books include The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long
War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East
(Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). The website of the GLORIA Center and of his blog, Rubin Reports. His original articles are published at PJMedia.