Appeasement in the Middle East
In January/February, Robert D. Kaplan wrote that an American-Iranian détente is in both countries’ interest (“Warming to Iran”). He posited that such a rapprochement need not threaten our special relationship with Israel.
Robert D. Kaplan’s argument is objectionable in its contradictions and advocacy of political manipulation. One could agree that détente with Iran is necessary and inevitable, despite Israel’s “formidable” domestic lobbying machine and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s being a “determined schemer.” Kaplan’s suggested solutions, however, are dangerous: to “play Shiites against Sunnis and vice versa” and to give Netanyahu some of what he wants—“more West Bank settlements,” “more and cheaper armaments,” etc., as if the billions in yearly aid are not enough already. At the same time, the U.S. must “seem,” Kaplan says, to be pressuring Israel to stop its colonizing activities in the West Bank. This Kaplan formula is what has been practiced already. It will lead only to more disasters and deceptions, more hypocrisy and double standards. It is in America’s interest, instead, to alleviate the core sources of regional tension and discontent, and to abandon the strategies of interference and division. More manipulation will not diminish antagonism among religious groups, or stop the rise of extremist fundamentalism in all religions.
Basem L. Ra’ad
Believing that a friendly relationship with the U.S. could dissuade Iran from using Hezbollah and Hamas is as naïve as believing that a friendly relationship with the U.S. would dissuade Israel from, say, building more West Bank settlements. Iran will follow what it believes to be the best way to spread its influence and power, regardless of how “friendly” anyone is. Amazingly, this article makes no mention of the nuclear problem. There is simply no way to be friends with both Iran and Israel under the current circumstances.