Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Netenyahu tones it down

In an interesting interview this week in Newsweek Benjamin Netenyahu appeared to moderate his stance slightly yet significantly on Iran. Netenyahu who is now likely to be Israel's next Prime Minister despite his party coming second in the recent election was asked directly by interviewer Lally Weymouth what he thought of President Obama's approach of engagement with Iran. He replied quite reasonably by saying that "the method of dealing with Iran is less important than the goal", the goal being to prevent Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon.

Netenyahu while in opposition has been urging a much tougher position on Iran. He has lobbied for a pre emptive strike on Iran's nuclear sites and has blamed both the July 2006 war and the recent conflict in Gaza on Iran because of their support for Hezbollah and Hamas respectively. Now that he is on the verge of taking power he has to be a bit more practical. If it were possible to bomb Iran's nuclear sites destroying the programme in the process then it would have been done by now. Also Iran have the ability to inflict additional economic chaos on the world during what is already the worst global recession since the twenties. They could do this by retaliating against western targets via their proxy armies and by blockading or attempting to blockade the stait of Hormuz at the entrance to the Persian Gulf in an effort to prevent the oil rich nations of the region exporting to the rest of the world. Naturally the world will not tolerate such a situation which means another way has to be found to convince Iran to abandon their nuclear ambitions. Netenyahu knows this so he has to stop ridiculing any suggestion that talking to Iran might actually achieve something. As Hillary Clinton said in Jerusalem this week, "people shouldn't confuse talking to Iran with being soft on Iran". Technically Americas stance toward Iran has not changed under Obama. Obama rightly believes that a nuclear Iran is unacceptable. He does however believe that the Bush approach of isolating Tehran and belittling them at every opportunity has proved ineffective. Obama's new approach which has not yet manifested itself will probably take the form of an acknowledgement that the US has not always acted honourably toward Iran. The Iranians who crave respect, the ancient Persian empire and all that, have been calling for this for 30 years and many experts believe that such an acknowledgement might be rewarded with major concessions. This is likely to be a fascinating story throughout 2009 which Gubu World will keep a close eye on.


Anonymous said...

I just wrote a big post and it failed for some reason. Im not a happy bunny. But to give you the jist of it anyways here i go. This situation is interesting from a few points of view, the Iraq theatre closing, all those troops needing somewhere to go, will the US open a new theatre of war? Irans continual defiance, Isreals current aggression. I am highly interested...

Ted Leddy said...

Sorry Aido man

When you're not a happy bunny I'm not a happy bunny. I can say with certainty that it is very unlikely there will be a war with Iran in the next year or two anyway. As I said in the post Iran could really mess things up for the world if they wanted. You know Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, (all among the biggest oil exporters in the world) have to ship their oil through the straits of Hormuz at the entrance to the Persian Gulf which Iran has the ability to blockade. Could you imagine this on top of the global financial crisis. Even without this threat the Americans simply just can't afford a new war especially against a country twice the size and double the population of Iraq.

However as I have said many times on Gubu if the Israelis believe that the Iranians are tricking the international community and are intent on developing a nuclear weapon then they will bomb Iran's nuclear sites regardless of the economic situation. That is a given.