Are U.S. and Israel Playing Good Cop / Bad Cop?

Marc Lynch wonders if Israel bluffed on bombing Iran

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While the U.S. negotiated a short-term success with Iran over its covert nuclear program, threats loomed that Israel would take matters into its own hands and preemptively strike Iran's facilities, as it did with Iraq in 1981. Many feared that such a strike would destabilize the region and risk all-out war. But Marc Lynch asks, was Israel bluffing all along?

The public nature of the campaign to justify an Israeli strike against Iran could be a useful tactical weapon for American diplomats, the bad cop to help sweeten the pot for the Western good cops. But it can only be a useful tactical weapon if there exists sufficient trust between the Obama administration and the Israeli government that the latter would not go rogue and strike on its own.  We hear so much about how the Obama team needs to build trust with the Israelis to get progress on peace, but it runs both ways -- Netanyahu needs to do a lot more to build Obama's confidence that they are on the Iran strategy team.

The strategy would have required some coordination, with Israel playing the bad cop to America's good cop in confronting Iran. As increasingly public Israel-U.S. tensions having reached all the way to the U.N. floor, there are reasons to doubt that the two would work together. But, if there was anything to bring the two nations together, the threat of a nuclear Iran would be it.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.