Friday, February 27, 2015

Iranian nuclear hardliners' best friend

I'm not surprised that Netanyahu is willing to damage Israeli interests for short-term electoral gain, but the last paragraph of the Goldberg piece is what I have been wondering for a while about Bibi's opposition to the nuclear negotiations with Iran:
"What happens if the president succeeds in doing a deal despite the speech of the prime minister?" he asks. "Instead of the United States and Israel talking about ways to provide strategic reassurance to Israel, there’s going to be an ongoing fight over this deal. And what if the prime minister then succeeds in killing the deal? How will the president relate to the destruction of one of his signature policy initiatives? And if the sanctions then collapse, as seems likely, and Iran continues moving towards a nuclear weapon, how does the prime minister propose to stop Iran? He will certainly manage in the process to create the impression that he wants the United States to go to war with Iran. I don’t think the American people, in their war-weary state, will appreciate that."
The bottom line is the only realistic way to stop the Iranians from getting a nuclear bomb is getting them to agree not to build a nuclear bomb, which means some kind of negotiated deal. Bombing Iran is not going to deal the country anything more than a minor setback to the nuclear program. Plus, it would also serve as a pretty compelling case for the Iranian government to devote more resources to quickly getting a nuclear weapon so give Iran a deterrent to future attacks.

While a bigger regime-changing war with Iran might stop the program, there is no real chance that the U.S. will do anything like that. And frankly, Israel has no ability to manage that kind of war on its own (Israel isn't even capable of effectively bombing the Iranian nuclear program, which is why Netanyahu keeps trying to get the U.S. to kill Persians for him).

What is Netanyahu's plan to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons? He doesn't really have one. Instead, he is focusing all his efforts on sinking the only plausible chance for stopping the Iranian nuclear program: putting the program under international supervision in exchange for lifting economic sanctions. It is mind-boggling because if you buy Netanyahu's premise that a nuclear Iran represents an existential threat to Israel, than that is all the more reason you would want a deal with Iran.

What does Netanyahu think the endgame on the Iran issue should be?