By Louis René Beres |
It's looking more and more like there will be coalition military action over Iran's nuke program. However, if Israel attacks or participates, it can also become a religious war. As such, the various sides, factions and alliances would realign themselves and the situation could change dramatically, from a solid (but diverse) Arab and Western coalition to an extremely difficult political situation for all. All except the Iranians—they will try their best to get the Israelis actively involved in any military action, just as Saddam did during Desert Storm. Hopefully, the Israelis will again resist being drawn into such a situation.
Notwithstanding this, is a "diplomatic solution"—even a bad one—still possible to "resolve" this situation? I'm referring to a solution like the one that has apparently been worked out with the North Koreans—whereby they "promise" to suspend their nuke weapons programs in exchange for economic aid. The problem is that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea's little "Kims" have made this totally unverifiable "promise" several times before—and broken it every time.
For some perspective, the Iranians are no more "trustworthy" than the North Koreans. Furthermore, a diplomatic solution seems unlikely because the Iranians, while they want relief from sanctions, will not acknowledge they have a nuclear weapons program—such being absolutely necessary for the verification of any responsible diplomatic solution.
Despite the "slim to none" odds of success, diplomacy will continue to be the "preferred" solution of the Obama administration. However, our long suffering experience in the region teaches that such efforts are easily and quickly unraveled, putting us in an ever-worsening situation—and with the Israelis reconsidering whether to attack. Under these circumstances—and in exchange for continued Israeli forbearance—we could be under significant pressure to give the Israelis some assurance that we would take military action.
Our upcoming presidential election will play a big role in the political "decision matrix" for most of the parties, so many believe nothing much will happen until after it. Regardless of the election outcome, however, Iran developing nuclear weapons is a critical "red line" for both Republicans and Democrats. Accordingly, military action seems a likely outcome for this very dangerous situation. Meantime, let's hope that the Israelis have both the patience and good political sense to refrain from their own military action.
About Daniel J. Gallington Senior Policy and Program Adviser at the George C. Marshall Institute
Raymond Tanter Founder of the Iran Policy Committee
Ilan Berman Vice President of the American Foreign Policy Council
James Dobbins Former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State