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View Diary: Khatami is In--This is a Clear Signal (309 comments)

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  •  It's nobody's line. It's the underlying (13+ / 0-)

    dynamic behind US-Israeli-Iranian relations: a rational three-way strategic deterrence, which is the status quo.

    The current regime in Tehran does not publicly acknowledge this.  I would be interested in seeing something, anything, from Tehran that says the U.S. effectively plays a deterrent role that restrains Israel.  That would be a remarkable admission.

    As for the myth of Iranian irrationality and wish for matyrdom, they certainly had their chance to respond to repeated U.S., Britain, and Israel provocations two summers ago.  Instead, they were remarkably restrained and showed the central government does have effective command and control over the al Quuds Brigades of the IRG.

    As for nuclear weapons, they are unusable by any party except as a deterrent - Iran's large stockpiles of chemical and (possibly biological) agents serve the same purpose.  Also, Iran has sufficient conventional military power, even without pushing that button, to damage western economies by stopping tanker shipping through the Straits.  Geography and anti-shipping missiles are probably their ace in the deck.

    You are right, however, to point out the complexity added by the Saudis and Turks.  Call it five-way deterrence, which is exactly the pragmatic basis for the Grand Compromise sort of diplomacy that is now taking place.  

    •  well put. (6+ / 0-)

      All I'd add is that the Iranian fundamentalists (typified by Ahmedinejad) seem to be getting sidlined by the clerics.  This bodes well, but the biggest threat I see on the horizon is a Likud win leading to an attack on Iran's nuclear program, putting the fundies back in the driver's seat.

      "Well, yeah, the Constitution is worth it if you can succeed." -Nancy Pelosi, 6/29/07.

      by nailbender on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 07:55:23 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Some of the seeming irrationality on (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dqueue, nailbender, KenBee, FrankCornish

        the part of Israel is bluff.  They have the military capability to destroy some of Iran's program, but not all.  Such an attack would greatly increase the probability that Iran would eventually use the bomb when it gets it, even if that can be delayed several decades.

        Netanyahu is an unattractive candidate, except that he has the potential to be another Begin.  Only Nixon could go to China and negotiate SALT.

        •  Begin never accomplished what (5+ / 0-)

          Rabin was poised to do just before he was assassinated by a Likud-inspired asshole.  And I'll never forget Netanyahu's expression of glee at that atrocity.  It was he, after all, who gained the most from it.

          Begin was to Israel as Arafat was to Palestine, IMO.  Failed leaders both.  I don't see Netanyahu approaching even that low bar.

          "Well, yeah, the Constitution is worth it if you can succeed." -Nancy Pelosi, 6/29/07.

          by nailbender on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 08:34:29 AM PST

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          •  Perhaps I'm too generous in my (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Odysseus, dqueue, nailbender, KenBee

            faint praise.  

            But, there's one reason to be optimistic.  No matter how obstructionist the bluster -- today Natnyahu reaffirmed his intention to resist being "pushed around" by Obama -- they've got to understand that there is a point beyond which they cannot go, and even that very high bar has been significantly lowered by the new Administration in Washington.

            Whoever takes over in Jerusalem has few real political options or ability to spring military surprises.  Even Bibi isn't suicidal.

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