Vanity, thy name is woman, some misogynist once said. My version is: cynicism, thy name is Bibi. I can’t think of a more cynical, manipulative story than this one. In his UN address, the PM said that his red lines had receded for some unspecified reason. Israeli journalists then breathed a sign of relief that Bibi had decided Iran wouldn’t enter the danger zone until this coming summer. So no fear of war for at least another eight months. Everyone could rest easy.
The reason for Bibi’s climb-down? We don’t know for sure, but I believe it was a combination of Obama administration jawboning and the almost universal opposition within Israel to mounting such an adventure. Of course, a monomaniac like Bibi couldn’t possibly concede this was the reason he backed down. To do so would cause him to lose face before his Likudnik ultranationalist supporters and before the Iranians themselves.
So he needed a good cover-story that diverted attention from the real reasons. He’s concocted a doozy. Haaretz reports that Israel now believes that Iran has diverted 50% of the uranium it has enriched to 20% for medical research. That means that Iran has deliberately slowed down its nuclear program, possibly in order to ease western pressure upon it. It means that the critical fuel necessary to produce a nuclear bomb has deliberately been diverted by Iran to peaceful use. If this was true, it would be a smart move on Iran’s part because it would provide just the face-saving gesture that would allow Israel and the U.S. to back off their threats to attack; while preserving Iran’s maneuvering room should it decide in future that it did want to go all the way toward making a bomb.
Another irony of this story is that if true it would mean that Iran was doing precisely what it told the world it was doing: enriching uranium for medical purposes. Precisely the argument that Bibi, Obama, Clinton and half the Israeli media proclaimed to be abject lies. Now you have Bibi the Liar doing an about-face and saying the very thing he called an Iranian lie is actually the truth. Amazing.
I don’t know which story is true. But I do know that you’d never lose a bet on Bibi choosing the most cynical, deceitful option to get himself out of a jam. So I’m betting he hitched his wagon to this uranium diversion story in order to save face before the world: how can the Big Bad Bibi explain how he turned from a fire-breathing dragon into a pussy cat seemingly overnight regarding the Iranian threat? Because the Iranians backed down in the face of fierce western and Israeli pressure. Now Bibi can relax too–for a few months. The world saved, for now.
All this means that come summer we’ll be hearing the drums of war start pounding once again. Then Obama will have to address the issue once again. Frankly, I don’t see how he agrees to go to war after he’s won a second term (presuming he does win). Unless he’s made a deal with Bibi to go to war this summer as the price for averting a war during the presidential campaign. Anything’s possible (almost).