Friday, July 14, 2006

Lebanon War: It's Iran, Stupid...

I know nothing that I don't read in the papers or see on TV, but that won't stop me from saying something....

My guess is that the G-8 summitteers are jaw-jawing about Iran right now. From the press accounts, it looks like a strange alliance of Israel and her Arab neighbors against Hezbollah, Hamas, and Iran. If things heat up, this could be the beginning of a new "Persian war." Or, maybe not.

The Newshour with Jim Lehrer had a very intersting discussion of this angle last night:
RICHARD HAASS, President, Council on Foreign Relations: Well, what we've seen, Margaret, is a significant deterioration of the security situation in the region that comes against the backdrop, as you know, first of all, of the growing Iranian nuclear challenge.

It comes against the backdrop of years of a deteriorating stability in Iraq. It comes against the backdrop of Israeli exchanges with Hamas, given the situation in Gaza. So it's not as though this is creating a problem; rather, it's exacerbating the problem.

And one of the common threads here, I think, you have to say is Iran. Here it is, six years after the Israelis left Lebanon unilaterally, and they don't enjoy security there. Hezbollah enjoys significant support from Syria, and in particular though from Iran.

And we have a situation where the Lebanese government is either unable or unwilling to fulfill the obligations of a sovereign state, which is not to allow acts of violence to be committed against a neighbor.

So Israel has taken this action. It's unlikely to resolve the situation, but it's one of those awful or frustrating moments, I expect, for Prime Minister Olmert where he knows, if he does these things, it is unlikely to resolve Israel's security dilemma, but he also knows that he must do these things, not simply for domestic political reasons, but to send a message to the region that Israel will not stand idly by if it is attacked...

...MARGARET WARNER: And what about -- briefly, do you think Israel would be tempted to strike Iran?

THEODORE KATTOUF: Well, certainly, Israel would be tempted to strike Iran, because it's an existential question. If Iran gets nuclear weapons, it's made it very clear it thinks Israel shouldn't exist. The Israelis will certainly have to be thinking about what their military options are, vis-a-vis Iran.