Commentary Magazine


Contentions

Iran Options

This was really inevitable: “Israel expects the U.S. to initiate direct talks with Tehran if Senator Barack Obama is elected president.” Haaretz‘s Barak Ravid has some details from discussions under way in Israel’s Foreign Ministry:

[D]iscussions have been underway for months between Israel’s Foreign Ministry, the Atomic Energy Commission, the National Security Council, the Mossad, the Defense Ministry and academic experts. The significance of the discussions is that they were coordinated by the foreign minister and Kadima chairwoman, prime minister-designate Tzipi Livni.

The result of some of these meetings and deliberations was also to be expected:

The plan divides activities in Iran into four teams that will advise Israeli diplomatic missions worldwide. The team charged with diplomatic action against the nuclearization of Iran will consist primarily of personnel from the strategic wing of the Foreign Ministry and will cooperate with other bodies in the defense establishment. It will focus on increasing international pressure on Iran.

The team tasked with Iran’s economic isolation will discuss divesting from Iran, cancelling deals, particularly on energy, boycotting Iranian banks and increasing monitoring of Iranian money in foreign banks.

Another team will work to isolate Tehran in areas other than the nuclear plan, highlighting issues of human rights, Iranian support for terror groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah, and organizing rallies during visits by senior Iranian officials.

A fourth team will deal with issues of public diplomacy – writing articles in leading newspapers around the world, conducting press briefings, engaging in public relations efforts against the Iranian regime on university campuses, and disseminating intelligence against Iran in the media.

The article (the Hebrew version; in English it’s a bit different) says that Israel will demand that Obama “condition any talks between the West and Iran on halting uranium enrichment.” Not that Israel shouldn’t demand such a thing, but–what happens if Obama refuses? We don’t know. And there are other obvious problems with the plan. Here’s what’s likely, in my opinion, to happen to these four teams:

A. Team one will discover that the world has no appetite for increasing the pressure on Iran.

B. Team two will learn that such sanctions can be applied here and there, but aren’t sufficient.

C. Team three will learn that getting attention in times of economic crisis for such things as human-rights violations in Iran isn’t easy.

D. Writing articles: yes, that will definitely stop Ahmadinejad.