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 'A fool's game' is how French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius described the nuclear deal cooked up by EU rep Catharine Ashton and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in Geneva. So it was not only Israel's Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu who expressed 'hysterical opposition' (New York Times) to the failed proposal that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry rushed to try and wrap up. After investing so much of his time and personal effort, Kerry is beginning to show signs of the mediator's syndrome - striving to achieve an agreement at any price...


What was the Israeli leader to do? Wait until the 5P+1 and Iran forged the final agreement down the road, and only make his...opposition known after it was too late...?

 Understandably, from his point of view, the Secretary of State did not want to fly back empty-handed to Washington. Here are several examples:

 Kerry: "I am not sure the Prime Minister... knows exactly what the amount and the terms are going to be ..."

 What was the Israeli leader to do? Wait until the 5P+1 and Iran forged the final agreement down the road, and only make his hysterical opposition known after it was too late and the deal was already done? 

 Kerry: In a reference to Israel's opposition: "To let fear tactics and those who suggest otherwise…"  

 And why shouldn't Israel be fearful, even President Barak Obama has admitted he would be 'very wary', if he were in Netanyahu's shoes. Is it not strange that Israel, which has been threatened with destruction by Iran, has no place in these nuclear negotiations? This also applies to the other regional states which are also fearful of a nuclear Iran, and they include Saudi Arabia, the Gulf Arab Emirates and other Sunni countries such as Egypt. While barred from the conference table, do they not have the right to make their case on the world stage? 

 But Kerry did get this right: "No deal is better than a bad deal because a bad deal could actually wind up creating a greater danger."

...easing the sanctions will open the floodgates to foreign companies eager to sign lucrative trade agreements with the Iranians, who have already signaled the Americans will go to the head of the line.

 That is precisely what Netanyahu is trying to prevent. In the Middle East, the Persians have the reputation of being very shrewd bargainers, and they are known for usually coming out with the best deal. Was Britain's Catherine Ashton in the same league with Javad Zarif, while President Hassan Rouhani, who shafted EU negotiators in the past, was calling the plays from Tehran? If she was, why was French Foreign Minister Fabius so acerbic about the proposed deal? And let's face it; easing the sanctions will open the floodgates to foreign companies eager to sign lucrative trade agreements with the Iranians, who have already signaled the Americans will go to the head of the line. This scenario is what got Netanyahu's dander up when he was informed that Iran had been offered 'the deal of the century' - giving up virtually none of its A-Bomb  capabilities while getting its economy back on track by the easing of some sanctions. 


 Best possible deal...

 What is now coming to the fore is the Obama administration's drive 'for the best possible deal'.  Israel and apparently Saudi Arabia and the other Sunni Arab states are deeply concerned that Obama has already discarded the military option and will stick to the diplomatic track. Kerry tried to haggle with Zarif in Geneva but Iran was not budging on its nuclear weapons capabilities, or as Netanyahu railed: "The Iranians refused to dismantle not one of their 19,000 centrifuges, not one!" This should not come as any great surprise seeing as how the Iranians have reached the conclusion that the U.S. has no stomach for using the military option. In fact, Kerry has even declared: "Without diplomacy, the Iranians are more likely to get the Bomb." Really? What about imposing more sanctions now that Iran is on the ropes? The sole reason the Ayatollahs are ready to negotiate a temporary halt to enriching more 20% enriched uranium is because the latest sanctions are strangling Iran's economy. If the U.S. signals it has discarded the military option or more sanctions, the Iranians will reach the conclusion: "All we have to do is wait them out and they'll give in, Obama is a paper tiger!" This was the distinct message that was noted in Middle East corridors of power after Obama's climb-down over Assad's use of chemical weapons. On the flip-side, the only reason Syria's President Hafez Assad is giving up his chemical weapons is because he was urged to do so by Russian President Putin, who advised Assad it was in his and their best interest.  


 March of folly...

 But just look at this recent statement by White House spokesperson Jay Carney: "The American people do not want a march to war".  

"The Iranians refused to dismantle not one of their 19,000 centrifuges, not one!"

 What kind of signal does it sent to Tehran? That all options are still on the table or that America has no stomach for another military intervention after it withdraws from Iraq and Afghanistan? On the contrary - to imply publicly there will be no march to war over Iran is in fact no less than a 'march of folly', because in Tehran it must have been music to the ears of Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani. After the heavy price paid in Iraq and Afghanistan, there is a growing school of opinion in America that does not rule out the idea of a nuclear armed Iran and then falling back on the Cold War policy of containment. Unlike Israel and Iran's other neighbors, there would be no clear and present danger to the U.S. America's intelligence community estimates it would take three years or so for the Iranians to get their hands on operational inter-continental ballistic missiles that could target the U.S.  (However, today France can already be targeted by existing Iranian missiles and this may explain why its Foreign Minister Fabius took a tough stand in Geneva). By the time Iran acquires ICBMs, Obama would be out of the White House. In the meantime, Washington could offer a 'defensive umbrella' to the Gulf States and Israel. In fact, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton actually floated the idea during her term. Israel would never accept the idea of living as a protectorate under America's protection; nor would Saudi Arabia, Egypt or Turkey, for that matter. As a result of Riyadh's loss of credibility in the U.S., over its handling of the crises in Egypt and Syria, Saudi Arabia was reportedly considering the purchase of an A-Bomb from Pakistan to counter the Iranian threat.  

[The Iranian Government] fears a violent backlash if it decided to truly halt the nuclear weapons program...It might even spark a revolution against the Islamist regime.

 So when one considers the contours of the current Middle East landscape, an Israeli is more than justified in drawing on Secretary Kerry's own words: "We are not blind either and I don't think we're stupid".

 Consider this: Menashe Amir, an Israeli expert, who actually understands the Farsi language and Iranian mentality, makes this observation. The fanatical Islamist regime in Tehran, perceives nuclear weapons as a means to promote its drive for Middle East hegemony and as a guarantee of its survival. There is also another reason why it will persist in its drive to acquire A-bombs. Over the years, the Iranian people have paid a gigantic economic price both in paying for the nuclear weapons development and the hardship inflicted by the international sanctions. Their standard of living has plummeted and basic food commodities are often scarce. The total cost of the nuclear project is estimated to be well over $100 billion dollars; every month it rises by another four billion. It fears a violent backlash if it decided to truly halt the nuclear weapons program. Many Iranian people would ask: "Why have our leaders conducted such a disastrous policy that has kept us living in poverty for over a decade?" It might even spark a revolution against the Islamist regime.       


 David Essing

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