Sunday, February 12, 2012
"Containment" of a nuclearised Iran or Containment of a nuclear Israel?
Will AIPAC and Bibi get their war?
Does Netanyahu really want a war on Iran, or does he want to prove that no one could stop him if he did?
Washington, DC - These are strange times for those of us who follow the debate about a possible war with Iran. It is clear that the Israeli government and its neoconservative camp followers here in the United States are increasing pressure on President Obama to either attack Iran or let Israel do it (in which case we would be forced to join in). But the idea of another war in the Middle East is so outlandish that it seems inconceivable it could actually occur.
Still, the conventional wisdom holds that it can, because this is an election year and the assumption is that no-one will say no to Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
War enthusiasm will rise to a fever pitch by March, when AIPAC holds its annual policy conference. Netanyahu will, if the past is any indication, bring the crowd of 10,000 to its feet by depicting Iran as the new Nazi Germany and by coming very close to stating that only war can stop these new Nazis. Other speakers will say the same. The few who mention the idea of diplomacy will be met with stony silence.
From the convention centre, 10,000 delegates will be dispatched to Capitol Hill with two or three "asks" for members of Congress. One will, no doubt, be that "containment" of a nuclearised Iran be ruled off the table (leaving war as the only remaining option should Iran get the bomb). Another will likely be that the US stop all dealings with the Palestinian Authority should Hamas and Fatah permanently reconcile. A third could apply either to Iran or Palestine and will inevitably demand fealty to whatever Netanyahu's policy of the moment happens to be. I've sat in on those meetings where the AIPAC "asks" are developed, and it was always clear that the substance didn't matter all that much.
The goal of the "asks" is ensuring that Congress follow the script. Invariably at least one of these AIPAC goals will be put into legislative language and quickly pass both chambers of Congress. In fact, usually the "ask" is already in legislative form, so that the AIPAC citizen lobbyists can simply demand that their legislators sign on as co-sponsors (if they haven't already done so). Once the AIPAC bill has the requisite number of co-sponsors, the House and Senate leadership brings it to the floor where it passes with few dissenters.
All hell breaks loose if a member of Congress should object. More
Perhaps it is not Iran that should "Contained", rather a nuclear armed Israel who is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty that should be "Contained". Editor