Thursday, July 10, 2008
Acting from Weakness?
There could be a change of government in Israel by September, and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is not governing at present from any position of strength or confidence. The Bush Administration is becoming more and more a lame duck--with the possible temptation to act either right before the November elections or in the transition period before a new administration arrives in January. For his part, Mahmud Ahmadinejad--who let's remember was elected president not because he promised war with Israel but on a platform of economic growth and combating corruption--hasn't been fulfilling many of those promises. A good old fashioned crisis, though, tends to distract attention and provide new legitimacy for his government.
It also means that none of the three governments are in a position to reach a deal that would then be seen as binding on possible successor administrations, diminishing the prospects for diplomacy.
US, EU, Israel are following the early Cold War approach to Iran (1945-1956). We have to wait for the uselessness of that approach to sink in before we can move to the Detente phase.
I would say give it another 6 years.
US & EU are comfortable with the early Cold War approach to Iran; they have done it before and they think they can win - specially considering the destruction of Iraq brought-about through sanctions in 1990s.
Iran, on the other hand, has had the experience of Iran-Iraq War and years of sanctions; feeling comfortable with her ability to manage what US-EU are going to throw at her over the next few years.
But look at the bright side: US-Iran confronation has let the air out of the Great Power pretensions of EU, Japan, India and others.
We now know that the number of truly independent international actors are less than 20!