Strong Iran = Death of the Peace Process (Among Other Things)

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George Friedman writes:

The withdrawal of U.S. forces has had a profound psychological impact on the political elites of the Persian Gulf. Since the decline of British power after World War II, the United States has been the guarantor of the Arabian Peninsula's elites and therefore of the flow of oil from the region. The foundation of that guarantee has been military power, as seen in the response to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990. The United States still has substantial military power in the Persian Gulf, and its air and naval forces could likely cope with any overt provocation by Iran.

But that's not how the Iranians operate. For all their rhetoric, they are cautious in their policies. This does not mean they are passive. It simply means that they avoid high-risk moves. They will rely on their covert capabilities and relationships. Those relationships now exist in an environment in which many reasonable Arab leaders see a shift in the balance of power, with the United States growing weaker and less predictable in the region and Iran becoming stronger. This provides fertile soil for Iranian allies to pressure regional regimes into accommodations with Iran.

The formula is not complicated: A strong Iran (and, God forbid, a nuclear Iran) would make it clear to smaller Arab powers that a peace process with Israel is not in their best interests. Weaker powers will abide Iranian wishes. The two-state solution is already on life-support; a strong Iran (combined with ineffective Palestinian leadership, and thickheaded Israeli leadership) would spell an end to the hope for a decent solution.

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Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

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