The nuclear deal sets back any Iranian military nuclear program by at least 10 years, and does so without sparking a regional war. That, by itself, makes the deal the best option available.
One of the easiest things to forget when discussing the Iran deal is just how inevitable and nearby war seemed for so long.
It seems like just yesterday that the news was dominated with headlines like: “Will this be the year that Israel goes to war with Iran?”; “How Israel’s War With Iran Will Be Fought”; “Israel ‘prepared for 30-day war with Iran’”; “Pentagon predicts Israel will drag US into war with Iran”; “Israel stepped back from brink of war with Iran in 2010”; and, “Ex-ambassador to Israel: U.S. will go to war with Iran in 2013.”
One of the strongest arguments against an Israeli attack against Iran, aside from the guaranteed regional war that would follow, was that a preemptive strike could only ever set back Iran’s nuclear program a few years. A military strike could not destroy Tehran’s nuclear ambitions. In fact, it would almost certainly have had the opposite effect by convincing the Iranian leadership that it needs greater deterrence against attack.
The current P5+1 deal sets back any Iranian military nuclear program by at least 10 years, and does so without sparking a regional war. That, by itself, makes the deal the best option available. And that’s the bottom line.
There is a genuine debate to be had about whether Israel ever truly wanted to attack Iran militarily had a window ever opened. Some have argued that Benjamin Netanyahu’s war-mongering was always intended to scare the world into action, to push the major world powers into establishing a serious sanctions regime against Tehran, with an eventual goal of pressuring it into abandoning its nuclear program.
If the latter was the plan all along, then it succeeded. The P5+1, spurred on by Israel’s threats and warnings, created a sanctions regime that led to political change in Iran, and eventually brought about a serious diplomatic process that resulted in the current nuclear deal.
Benjamin Netanyahu has a right to be dissatisfied with the Iran deal. He even has a right to lobby against it in the United States, even though it is a fait accompli. Doing so, however, is a very risky proposition — both for him and his country.
It is not clear what Netanyahu’s end game is in taking the battle back to Washington by trying to “undo” the Iran nuclear deal in Congress.
Does he really think he can defeat the President of the United States on his home turf?
Does he really want to live with the consequences of doing so?
Does he understand the consequences that will have for American Jewry and its place in American society, the future of the powerful lobbying arm it has built, and already waning Jewish support for Israel?
“The prime minister has waged a campaign against the U.S. as if the two sides were equal,” Israeli President Rivlin told Maariv this week, adding that he is worried about Israel’s international isolation and its relationship with Washington after the nuclear deal.
The Iran deal will go through, regardless of whether Netanyahu fails to swing Congress or if he succeeds and Obama is forced to use his veto. So either the Israeli prime minister has a secret end-game that nobody has figured out, or he has climbed so far up the tree that he just doesn’t know how to climb down.