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Israel, America -- and Iran

From:  Ray Close
Date: Fri, Aug 22, 2008 at 5:23 PM
Subject: Israel, America -- and Iran
To: undisclosed-recipients



Friends:

I became an admirer of Daniel Levy when we attended a conference together (on the subject of Iran) in Liechtenstein last summer.  We have maintained correspondence since then. I particularly commend his first article (below) spelling out how ill-advised and counterproductive Israel's threatening posture towards Iran has become.
 
One of the great failings that neo-conservative American leaders have demonstrated in dealing with the rest of the world is their inability to recognize how others see us ---  resulting in consistent failure to formulate rational and credible policies toward our adversaries because they do not take the trouble, or simply lack the sensitivity, to understand and appreciate the other side's legitimate concerns and interests while evaluating the dangers that its ambitions may pose. Unfortunately, right-wing Israelis currently suffer from exactly the same critical deficiency.

Both the American and Israeli leaderships, in these perilous times, share another related handicap: both are cursed with an inflexible belief that every problem can be dealt with most effectively by the application of force --  preferably in the form of overwhelming military power.  So the leaders of both the United States and Israel have a consistent tendency to talk tough, to threaten, to repudiate opportunities for compromise or accommodation ---  until they have virtually no options left other than to carry out their vainglorious threats or accept humiliating failure.  (Example: "The only thing more dangerous than a war with Iran would be a nuclear Iran". John McCain sets a trap for himself.)

When it comes to dealing with Iran, it seems that Israel may already have painted itself into that corner.  But there is, thankfully, a (faint) hope emerging that wiser heads in Washington (most of them across the Potomac River in the Pentagon, it seems), may have come to the sensible conclusion that a military conflict with Iran would be a disaster for America, and are trying to persuade their Israeli counterparts to get a grip on their paranoia.

Predictably, wise and objective Israelis (though not many politicians) are speaking up, as well.  Perhaps, just perhaps, the precipice will be avoided.  Thanks are due to those whose common sense is beginning to prevail over ignorance and arrogance both in America and in Israel.

Daniel Levy's voice is strong and clear, as you will see.

I would add only one small point to Daniel's list of reasons why military threats against Iran are counterproductive:  Those threats simply reinforce Teheran's convictions that it is in Iran's vital strategic interest to consolidate control over an Iraqi government that is dominated by reliably pro-Iranian Shi'ites ---  thereby diminishing the prospects that the U.S. can retain significant influence over Iraq's policies after the departure of American military forces.  (Here is another perfect example of the danger of neglecting to evaluate a situation from the perspective of one's adversary before adopting a menacing posture towards him --- especially when you have neither the means nor the will to follow through on your threats.)

Ray Close


**************
ISubj: Two Articles to Share

Date: Friday, August 22, 2008 1:30:56 PM

From: levy
To: ray close

I wanted to share with you a couple of op-eds of mine that have recently been published.   This piece on Israel and Iran is in today's Haaretz and this article, "Civil War in Gaza Isn't in Israel's Interests", was recently published in the Forward.
 
Both are pasted below and, as always, these and other articles can be found on my blog at www.prospectsforpeace.com.

Hope these are useful.

Best,
Daniel
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