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.
gene schulman says
Yes, Laura Rozen’s seminar is a good idea. The more this stuff gets talked about, the less likely it is to happen. One would hope. However, I still believe that everyone (even the experts) are afraid to admit that the Bush administration, along with the crazies in Israel, are dead set on maintaining the chaos level in the Middle East. Peace is not being sought by either administration. I sincerely believe that Iran is still on the agenda – it is probably the only thing that will justify the emergency the Bush people need to cancel or postpone the elections they are sure to lose, otherwise. Of course, such action will be a “retaliation” against something the Iranians have “provoked.” If I am correct, look for it to happen in time for the expected, unsurprising, “October surprise.”
Something went wrong with formatting of the Danny Postel quote. Words enclosed in tags appear only later in the text, e.g. “John Bolton has floated the do suggestion…”, where the “do” belongs in the previous sentence. (In this case the error is accidentally accurate, as “do” means “toilet” in Norwegian. :-))
I’m using Firefox.
Possible fix: I just tried out a local copy of the page, and it seems the culprit for the formatting error is the “float: right;” line in the “.post blockquote em” definition in the css stylesheet. When I erase it, all is fine, on my browser anyway.
Grrrr. In my first comment, it shoud read “Words enclosed in “em” tags…”. I used angle brackets, and it promptly was interpreted as an actual tag. Sorry.
I think that not only should we not attack Iran, we should ally with Iran to drive Israel out of the middle East. A true progressive cannot support the colonial entity of Israel, and Jews could be easily relocated to other countries. While a Jewish state may have fit in during the times of nationalism, in our post national era, it is just a provocation to the Muslim world. The disappearance of Israel would facilitate diplomatic relations with Iran, decrease the price of oil, and help faciliate diplomatic relations with al Qaeda. Better jaw jaw than war war
Richard Silverstein says
May I respectfully say that even if this is meant in “jest” (!) you’re out of your cotton-pickin’ mind.
Naturally, A.N. is not at all out of his/her mind but appreciates the obvious: The Israelis will never stop brutalizing the Palestinians so long as they have the ability to do so. There is absolutely no reason to hope that, should the miracle occur and the Palestinians be granted a state in the whole of the West Bank and Gaza with East Jerusalem as its capital, the israelis will stop attacking and murdering them. They are not going to stop, just because the land has gone from “Occupied Palestinian Territory” to “The Official State of Palestine.” It’s not going to change anything, particularly as it goes without saying, this new state will be denied the means to defend itself with a modern standing army and fully modern air defenses. America and Israel will never permit that and without it, there is no state.
The solution is a sad, protracted and bloody one. The Palestinians can only earn their freedom and self-determination the way the long-suffering people’s of Indochina won theirs—[this comment has been edited due to violation of comment rules–a further violation will cause the commenter to be banned].
What is the harm in letting the comment stand, without editing, Richard? What is the harm in allowing people to read a comparison made again and again and again by observers of the Israel-Palestine tragedy—journalists, human rights workers, authors and intellectuals, a great many of them, Jewish? Will people turn to stone if an apt comparison is made? What are you so petrified of?
In the latest (July 7) New Yorker, Seymour Hersh discusses a secret “Presidential finding” on Iran:
‘“The Finding was focussed on undermining Iran’s nuclear ambitions and trying to undermine the government through regime change,” a person familiar with its contents said’.
Clearly dismantling the state of Israel and dispersing the Jewish population throughout the world will not ‘solve’ the situation, instead it prolongs injustices on both sides of the conflict.
Surely the most positive solution we can hope for at the moment, is for the American administration (hopefully Obama?) to withdraw their un-mitigating support for Israel, in which case, Israel will have no option but to negotiate with its neighbours and enemies and this would, I pray, lead to a situation where lasting peace is a definite possibility.
Launching a military attack upon Iran – whether it be from America or Israel (and to be honest, in Iranian minds, there really isn’t much to differentiate between these two states, being bombed by one is the same as being bombed by the other) will obviously, only serve to inflame Iranian determination to exert its hegemony and put Israel more at risk than at any time during its short history.
The alternative to an Israeli attack on Iran By Shlomo Ben-Ami and Trita Parsi