Saturday, March 21, 2015

Allies and Rogues: Israel, Iran and US

I just got off the phone with my brother after a lively political discussion. He made a compelling point. He recalled that many people he knows have stated that Israel is our best ally in the Middle East. Thinking about that, he came to the conclusion that these well meaning people were incorrect, that in fact the reverse is the proper statement: the United States is Israel’s best friend. Consider: the US gives Israel $8.5 million dollars in military aid every day. The US has vetoed resolutions critical of Israeli actions 36 times since 1980 (eleven since 2001). We have been Israel’s staunchest defender since the country’s inception. This begs the question, how dare Netanyahu try to undercut negotiations between six western countries, including but not only the United States, and Iran, negotiations that are designed at least in part to enhance Israel’s protection? For that matter, how dare 47 Republican senators try overtly to undermine that same negotiation meant to make the region – and the world – a safer place? I keep asking myself, in what scenario is an Iran that is more closely monitored and included in the world of nations more dangerous than an Iran that remains “rogue?” The negotiations going on as we speak are not intended to solve all issues between Iran and the West. They are a step, a huge step if successful. They also are not plagued by myopic idealism. Iran, for example, would like to see sanctions removed upon their promise to commit to the terms; the six western powers will not remove sanctions until Iran shows physical compliance. If the negotiations break down, it will be over that sticking point – or should be. Yes, Iran’s leaders have said and done dangerous things in the past. So have we all. Do not forget the past but forgive it – and move toward the future with a wary but progressive eye. As a nation, we have done exactly this time and again. But the rhetoric coming out of Republican dominated Congress, as well as from the leader of Israel, sounds like war-mongering. If they want a holy war, let Netanyahu and his American senators be the ones to take up arms and put their own boots on the ground. Otherwise, why not give peace a chance? The alternative I see is a re-designation of who in the world are rogue states – America and Israel. I doubt anyone, especially the citizens of those two countries – want that.

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