MCViewPoint

Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Biden’s efforts to appease Israel on Iran have failed on all fronts – Responsible Statecraft

Posted by M. C. on December 16, 2021

It’s not the nuclear deal that’s the problem for Tel Aviv, but the very idea that Washington and Tehran would reach any detente at all.

What Israel doesn’t want they won’t get.

https://responsiblestatecraft.org/2021/12/12/bidens-efforts-to-appease-israel-on-iran-have-failed-on-all-fronts/

Written by
Trita Parsi

The New York Times Friday published an important analysis of ongoing U.S.-Israeli tensions over Washington’s efforts to revive the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which had succeeded in curbing Tehran’s nuclear program. As helpful as it is in understanding where things stand between Washington and Tel Aviv, however, the article misses a more fundamental takeaway from recent developments: Biden’s immense efforts to appease Israel in hopes of tempering the latter’s opposition to the JCPOA have not only failed but were likely based on faulty assumptions and were thus a mistake from the outset. 

Diverging Israeli and American views on the JCPOA is nothing new. But senior officials on the Biden team thought President Obama could have handled the Israelis better by coordinating more closely with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and actually heeding some of his hawkish advice. This belief, however, is unfounded.

The fundamental question is this: Are Israel and America’s views on a negotiated settlement with Iran ultimately reconcilable or not? Was there— and is there now — a way to clinch a lasting deal with Iran on its nuclear program that also satisfies Israel? 

The answer lies in understanding that the details of the deal are not the real problem. It’s rather the very idea of Washington and Tehran reaching any agreement that not only prevents Iran from developing a bomb, but also reduces U.S.-Iran tensions and lifts sanctions that have prevented Iran from enhancing its regional power. 

Many of Washington’s partners in the Middle East worry more about a U.S.-Iranian rapprochement and its geopolitical implications — a likely tilt in the regional balance of power in Iran’s favor, especially given the widespread perception the United States is eager to extricate itself from the neighborhood — than Iran’s nuclear advances. “So long as the United States works to contain Iran’s political influence and undermine its economy,” I wrote in Foreign Affairs in February, “the balance of the region will artificially tilt in favor of these states — a tilt that their own power cannot sustain.” 

Indeed, Obama’s fruitless efforts to persuade Washington’s regional partners and their allies in Washington to go along with the JCPOA had demonstrated that no amount of deference or consultation could change their categorical opposition to a deal with Iran. To the great frustration of some former Obama officials who had gone through this experience, the Biden team thought they could square this circle.

In December 2020, Obama’s deputy national security adviser, Ben Rhodes publicly implored Biden not to repeat this mistake: “I plead with [Biden],” he said on the PodSaveAmerica podcast. “Do not think there is any ounce of good faith that will be coming your way from Bibi Netanyahu, from MBS, and from the Tom Cottons of this world. These people have no interest in a deal. They’ve never had an interest in a deal,” he declared. “How many times do we have to go through this play? This is in the hands of the Biden people to say: ‘We don’t need to listen to these people.’”

But Biden chose to listen to them. Instead of returning to the JCPOA in the first days and weeks of his administration, critical time and effort were spent trying to persuade Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UAE to get onboard with diplomacy. 

See the rest here

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