Do you wake up in a cold sweat at night wondering whether George Bush or Ehud Olmert will drop the big one on Nantanz and what the implications will be for the rest of us? If so, Mother Jones’ Laura Rozen is the answer to your prayers. She has put together an interesting collection of Iran experts and posed the question: will Israel or the U.S. attack Iran? Her panel includes Daniel Levy, Trita Parsi, Yossi Melman and Danny Postel among others. The prevailing view among them is that there will not be such an attack–at least not in the foreseeable future (though some panelists see a possibility of such an attack in the longer term).
The perspective closest to my own was that of Danny Postel who wrote:
None of us can be certain at this point whether the US or Israel will attack Iran, but I read recent signs as being just ominous enough that I’d rather err on the side of being too worried than of not being worried enough. Even that paragon of cool sobriety The Economist now concludes that Israel’s recent maneuvers suggest that it might not be bluffing. One thing we do know is that the intellectual runway is being slicked for an attack. John Bolton has floated the suggestion that Israel will attack after the November elections but before the next president takes office, while Daniel Pipes has evoked the same scenario, only with the US doing the job…Norman Podhoretz not only “prays” that Bush will bomb Iran but has personally urged the president to do so in a private meeting between the two. (Bush, according to Podhoretz, “gave not the slightest indication of whether he agreed,” but “listened very intently” and “looked very solemn.”) The writing on the wall looks deadly serious to me. I’d rather fall for the hawks’ propaganda than awake one morning to find out that I’d underestimated the threat. But even if it is just posturing, it’s a very dangerous game with potentially cataclysmic consequences.
Whether the likelihood of an attack is low or high, the entire saber-rattling exercise is deeply disturbing.
One of my hopes is that with an Obama Administration (if that happens) at least 1/2 of the insanity of the current Israel & U.S. policy approaches to Iran will be eliminated. That just leaves a hot-headed Israel to worry about.
What most worries me about Israeli policy options is that they went into the Lebanon war with precisely the same delusions about what they could accomplish. An Iran adventure would be virtually the same type of situation: much ballyhoo about eliminating the Iranian nuclear threat, a strike of limited success, then Iranian blowback that turns the region into a smoking ruin.
If Israel was stupid enough to sink into the Big Muddy in Lebanon, what’s to hold them back from doing the same in Iran?
While I detest Ehud Barak politically, I’m hoping that he’ll be a far stronger, wiser & more strategic defense minister than Amir Peretz was during the Lebanon misadventure. While Barak rattles sabers with the best (or worst) of them, perhaps he has just enough saychel (“common sense”) to know what Israel can and cannot achieve with the military option regarding Iran.
What I especially like about the MoJo Convo concept is getting together the best progressive minds on a specific knotty political problem and giving them space to talk about it. On top of that, allowing readers to participate in the conversation as well and then allowing the panelists to interact with each other online and with readers–well, this idea is beyond cool.
I think this should be done a lot more often on other types of subjects. For example, I’d like to see a group of similar Jewish intellectuals discuss the topic of “what is pro-Israel” in the context of the presidential campaign. I know a lot of people have been writing about this lately including me, but having everyone get together in one place to discuss it would be really neat.
I was thinking of creating a blog composed of progressive Jews writing about the presidential campaign discussing issues pertinent to American Jews–including but not limited to Israel. I had even solicited a group of bloggers to do it. But it never got off the ground.