Sunday, November 24, 2013

Obama's Hanukkah Gift, 2013

The first time I took up the issue of Iran's nuclear aspirations and the threat of Israeli military response in this blog was in February 2012, after an Israeli journalist published a 7500-word piece in The New York Times Magazine that 2012 would be the year Israel attacks Iran. I predicted that no such thing would occur.

It did not matter that the Israeli Prime Minister drew pictures from the podium of the UN General Assembly in September of 2012 - it was all preposterous bluster from a weakened Israeli leader with no credible plan of attack. I admittedly worried and fretted in November and December of 2012, and talked myself into believing that Operation Pillar of Cloud was a cover to mobilize the Israeli Air Force, but by January of 2013 when I returned to the issue I correctly interpreted the results of the Israeli election held that month: "there will be no Israeli attack on Iran in 2013."

It is now fair to conclude that there will be no Israeli airborne attack on Iranian nuclear facilities for at least the next 6 months. So this ridiculous guessing game has been going on for nearly a decade - it's time to stop worrying about what Israel might do. Israel isn't going to do anything. Not in 2013 - now almost over - and not in 2014.

There has now emerged, for the first time in a decade, a much better way to handle the problem. Instead of "bomb, bomb, bomb - bomb, bomb Iran" (thank you John McCain for that little ditty from April 2007), instead of Stuxnet viruses and targeted killing of Iranian nuclear scientists, we now have a diplomatically negotiated path to stabilize the confrontation and bring this matter to a logical and peaceful conclusion. President Obama in 2013 has given the Jewish state an early and not particularly welcome Hanukkah gift. The meaning of the recently concluded interim Joint Plan of Action is either a true alternative to madness, or a Trojan horse of betrayal.

History is littered with foolish leaders who were so fearful of warfare that they appeased madmen and merely delayed the inevitable bloodshed, oftentimes at the expense of innocents who died undefended at the hands of implacable evildoers. History is also dotted with insightful leaders who were so fearful of warfare that they negotiated tangible and realistic patchworks of viable political compromise. No one can know at this early stage which scenario will unfold from the P5+1 - Iran deal worked out in November 2013. We will have a much better idea what this all might mean by May 2014.

Many people won't like how this all ends. Iran will eventually be relieved of the sanctions and will have as much or as little nuclear freedom as it chooses. This will all take place under an umbrella of international engagement and reintegration into the civilized nations of mankind. We will all have to learn to survive in a world where Iran has nuclear capacity, and quite likely nuclear weaponry.

We have learned to live with nuclear North Korea, India, Pakistan, and Israel. We will learn to live with nuclear Iran.

Or we won't.