Monday, December 15, 2008

Finally, A Sensible Approach Towards Israel

Hossein Askari, the Iran professor of international business and international affairs at the George Washington University, has written an op-ed for the LA Times, suggesting a sensible approach to take in the Middle East:
1. Do not rush in to push diplomacy
2. Do not make unnecessary concessions
3. Let the other side make the first move toward serious negotiations
Too bad he is offering these suggestions to Obama on how to deal with Iran and not on how Israel should deal with the PA.

In his op-ed, Askari writes:
A bevy of foreign policy experts are pressing Barack Obama to move quickly on his promise to "engage in aggressive personal diplomacy" with Iran.

He'd be better off first taking a long, deep breath and allowing Iran's economic crisis to take its toll on the mullahs before getting down to serious business.

...So the Obama administration has no need to swing into action. A rush to negotiate would only embolden the mullahs, extract unnecessary concessions from the U.S. and subject Iranians to clerical rule for the foreseeable future.

...So the new administration would be wise to back-burner serious negotiations with Iran for a while. Let Iran make the first move toward negotiations. If it does, the U.S. should respond positively but show no eagerness. Insist on overtures only from Iran's supreme leader.
Read the whole thing.

Unfortunate too is how off the mark Askari is when it comes to Iran, as if economic considerations alone will keep Iran from becoming a threat. At one point he writes:
Its military is puny; Iran fought Saddam Hussein for eight years and could not advance even 100 miles into Iraq, so it hardly represents a military threat to the United States or Israel. The large U.S. military presence in the region can easily keep Iran in check. Even if Iran is striving to develop nuclear weapons, it is at least three years away. All Iran can do is fan the flames against U.S. interests through surrogates such as Hezbollah and Hamas.
Askari does not address the fact that during that war that ended 20 years ago, if Iran did not advance far into Iraq during the war, Iraq for its part was unable to make much headway into Iran either. For that matter, he leaves out how the Majnoon Islands and the Al-Faw peninsula were captured by Iran.

Askari claims the US military--which has suffered losses as a result of Iranian supplied weapons--can keep Iran in check, an odd claim in light of the expressed intent not to perpetuate a large US military in the area.

The oddest thing is Askari's claim in that same paragraph that on the one hand Iran is not a military threat to Israel while admitting that Iran does "fan the flames against U.S. interests through surrogates such as Hezbollah and Hamas"

Now if only Obama would apply Askari's ideas about Iran towards the Israel-Palestinian conflict, while applying the world prevalent attitude onIsrael towards Iran--maybe then we could get somewhere.

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