Peace or war in the triangle of Israel, Iran and Saudi Arabia? What to make of two recent US policy moves.

By: Torgeir E. Fjærtoft 

The US is the outside force that weighs most heavily in the power equations of Israel, Iran and Saudi Arabia. US policy is currently mainly driven by concerns about the Iranian nuclear program. Towards Iran US policy will, in the absence of a trust-building agreement, be based on the assumption that the goal of Iran’s nuclear program is nuclear arms, despite remaining uncertainties and Iranian claims to the contrary. A further US assumption is probably that without a solution acceptable also to Israel and Saudi Arabia, stability in the region, the overriding US policy goal, will not be possible and war hard to prevent.

Two recent US policy moves may appear contradictory: The Obama administration has – after hesitation dating back to the Bush Administration – authorized the transfer to Israel of fifty five sophisticated bombs designed for penetrating underground targets, such as the Iranian nuclear installations. At the same time the top US military commander, Admiral Mullen, has frequently warned against any war scenario with Iran, and is now probably behind the initiative for a hotline with Iran’s naval command to avoid inadvertent clashes in the Gulf between Iranian naval vessels and the US fleet headquartered in Bahrain,  sharing narrow and crowed shipping lanes.

Are these US policy moves incompatible, pulling in opposite directions? Yes and no.

First of all, the US is not a monolithic entity. As in Israel and Saudi Arabia, there are factions that urge military attack against Iranian nuclear installations. These factions are oblivious to or underrate the high risk of escalation by dangerous Iranian counter attacks, a risk severely aggravated by the decentralized Iranian military command and parallel structure of the Revolutionary Guard, fragmenting Iranian control in crisis. The easiest target for Iran’s attacks, closing the Strait of Hormus, would potentially have the most catastrophic consequences world-wide by closing off an estimated 40% of the world’s oil supply.  A sober look at reality should show beyond doubt that none of the four countries – nor the rest of the world, for that matter – can escape an extreme vulnerability in any war scenario – or in the unpredictable, potentially chaotic and destabilizing aftermath. Therefore, war should appear highly inadvisable as a policy option in any conceivable set of circumstances.

The problem is that not everybody sees it that way. The US President is not omnipotent in the US political system, but must compromise, necessarily resulting in occasional incoherent policies. So when agreeing to provide Israel with offensive weapons against Iran, did President Obama against his better judgement succumb to pressure from the advocates of military action to enhance Israel’s capacity to strike Iranian nuclear installations? No, not likely.

President Obama is known to approach decisions in a highly analytic manner. In these two political moves, the following reading of his mind is likely: He fully endorses his top military commander’s rejection of war as a policy option and shares the concern to avoid military confrontation by accident and misunderstanding. But at the same time he is convinced that adding Iran to Pakistan as nuclear armed trouble spots in the region would be unacceptable. In his view, nuclear arms serve no sensible purpose, not for anybody. Therefore, nuclear arms would not make Iran more secure, only severely boost tensions, create the risk of Israeli panicked pre-emptive attacks, and most likely provoke a nuclear arms race in the region. By arming Israel with weapons that conceivably could destroy the Iranian underground nuclear installations, he intends to put pressure on Iran to negotiate.  He trusts that influential circles in Iran realize that in the event of diplomatic failure, military action may become difficult to avoid, irrespective of risks and consequences. If President Obama is seen to fail in a peaceful solution with Iran, his opponents in the upcoming election will use it against him. By failing to compromise now, Iran may come  to face a new US President who, like influential circles in Israel and Saudi Arabia, sees war as the only option left, an option to be exercised urgently in the perceived window- of-opportunity until Iran is fully nuclear armed.

This window-of-opportunity argument for attack is of course politically self-defeating, inadvertently providing a rational argument for Iran’s leadership to acquire a nuclear deterrent, thus providing a lever for those in the domestic Iranian power struggle seeking to undercut any rival that may agree to a compromise.  Realizing this, President Obama’s exceedingly difficult strategy is to create pressure to compromise while reassuring that attack is neither intended nor imminent. With his second term uncertain, as an astute politician Obama probably sees the rest of his first term as the window-of-opportunity for negotiations, and hopes to convince Iran of the same by demonstrably making the option of Israeli attack more militarily credible.


43 Responses to “Peace or war in the triangle of Israel, Iran and Saudi Arabia? What to make of two recent US policy moves.”

  1. 1 may loc nuocmay loc nuoc July 9, 2013 at 04:47

    The filter is made by installing the elements in one bucket which hold the dirty water.

    In its latest published yearly report the
    EPA stated that “76% of the populations served by public water systems usual drinking water with no important violation”.

    It employs the standard low-pass to high-pass transformation when a crossover is constructed using

  2. 2 bathroom renovations cost August 3, 2013 at 18:49

    Be sure to hire a professional building contractor for a Northern Virginia home remodel design
    ideasing contractor to help design the changes and additions as well as being upgrades that add market
    value. 1 Do you love your neighbors, but you can do it!
    To improve its brand awareness in the UK retail market, the company notes that it’s” simplifying” the design of its iconic glass cube” by using larger, seamless pieces of glass.

  3. 3 September 10, 2013 at 18:33

    That is not what we want unless you are opening 3GP or MP4 files which tend to
    give you an option to save tthe file on your computer.

    Continue to test the keywords by plugging them into Google, viewing
    your competition annd particularly the ads displayed on the sidebar and within tthe content network.
    SEO, which stands for Search Engine Optimization, is the process of optimizing one’s website to improve the position in which the website
    will appear within the search results obtained from a search engine based
    on specific keyword phrases.

  4. 4 piratage d un compte facebook comment faire September 29, 2013 at 14:22

    I pay a visit each day a few web sites and websites
    to read content, however this web site gives feature based articles.

  5. 5 daily routine chart for good health February 12, 2014 at 16:45

    Thank yyou for the good writeup. It in fact was a amusement account it.
    Look advanced to more dded agreeable from you! However, how could we communicate?

  6. 6 reverse phone lookup February 27, 2014 at 01:52

    Pay-per-click advertising is a way of doing business that any new entrepreneur should look closely at.

    Next you need is to check the strategies employed by the SEO
    service providing company so as to give good online presence and
    ranking to a website. Don’t use frames, flash, java scripts while designing
    because search engines would not prefer these.

  7. 7 agencies June 13, 2014 at 09:49

    Howdy, Cool article. There’s an matter with all your web page inside world-wide-web ie, may possibly take a look at? IE still is the market chief in addition to a significant amount involving many people is going to omit a person’s wonderful writing just for this issue.

  8. 8 cheap ole miss rebels jersey July 26, 2014 at 19:58

    cheap ole miss rebels jersey I’ve been surfing online more than three
    hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours.
    It is pretty worth enough for me. Personally, if all webmasters and bloggers
    made good content as you did, the web will be much more
    useful than ever before.

  9. 9 Joie August 12, 2014 at 15:33

    I’m not that much of a online reader to be honest but
    your sites really nice, keep it up! I’ll go ahead and bookmark
    your site to come back later on. Cheers

  1. 1 cowgirl boots for kids girls Trackback on November 28, 2013 at 05:19
  2. 2 learning english free download Trackback on November 28, 2013 at 05:58
  3. 3 merrell trail glove barefoot trail running shoes Trackback on May 15, 2014 at 21:42
  4. 4 you could try this out Trackback on May 19, 2014 at 22:25
  5. 5 Trackback on May 20, 2014 at 04:21
  6. 6 best running shoes for bad knees Trackback on June 13, 2014 at 15:58
  7. 7 asics gel flash running shoes Trackback on June 17, 2014 at 05:26
  8. 8 motion control trail running shoes Trackback on June 18, 2014 at 13:20
  9. 9 du lich nha trang Trackback on July 27, 2014 at 21:52
  10. 10 Trackback on July 29, 2014 at 16:10
  11. 11 Trackback on August 1, 2014 at 00:34
  12. 12 Trackback on August 2, 2014 at 18:46
  13. 13 best running shoes for children Trackback on August 23, 2014 at 07:41
  14. 14 du lich ca mau Trackback on October 12, 2014 at 20:29
  15. 15 thoi trang nu gia re Trackback on October 16, 2014 at 08:04
  16. 16 Trackback on October 21, 2014 at 06:36
  17. 17 elastic laces for running shoes Trackback on October 21, 2014 at 12:36
  18. 18 felt road bikes Trackback on November 5, 2014 at 18:16
  19. 19 single speed road bike Trackback on November 21, 2014 at 04:46
  20. 20 bianchi road bike Trackback on December 11, 2014 at 12:32
  21. 21 cheap cowboy boots for women Trackback on December 28, 2014 at 08:10
  22. 22 toddler girl cowgirl boots Trackback on December 29, 2014 at 20:02
  23. 23 winter hiking boots Trackback on February 9, 2015 at 04:04
  24. 24 nike mens running shoe Trackback on February 9, 2015 at 10:06
  25. 25 silver handbag Trackback on February 9, 2015 at 12:29
  26. 26 design a t shirt Trackback on February 9, 2015 at 14:21
  27. 27 top designer handbags Trackback on February 9, 2015 at 17:26
  28. 28 track t shirt designs Trackback on February 10, 2015 at 08:56
  29. 29 wool coats Trackback on February 10, 2015 at 17:30
  30. 30 outerwear Trackback on February 11, 2015 at 05:09
  31. 31 monsac handbags Trackback on February 11, 2015 at 19:04
  32. 32 retro running shoes Trackback on February 13, 2015 at 13:34
  33. 33 29 mountain bike Trackback on February 14, 2015 at 10:59
  34. 34 visit the following website page Trackback on April 8, 2015 at 06:16

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s



%d bloggers like this: