Iran is persistently on top of the international agenda, with a lot of information, misinformation and disinformation going around the circuit. These information problems make an accurate evaluation of whether there will be war between Iran, Israel and the U.S. rather difficult.
In order to begin such an evaluation, I will first list of some of the main misconceptions about Iran, specifically Iran's approach to nuclear weapons. Then, I will demonstrate that these inaccuracies cause misguided approaches to foreign policy which are detrimental to global stability and peace.
1) The U.S. is currently conducting diplomacy without diplomacy.
President Obama is right in restraining our Israeli friends from launching a suicide attack on Iran and reiterating the need for diplomatic measures to work. But there is one main problem – official relations between America and Iran do not exist. What we have, then, is some undefined derivative of track-two diplomacy, but it’s a paradox nonetheless. American foreign policy is contradicting itself here: we want to talk to Iran, but we won’t talk to Iran. Quoi?
2) Iran is out to destroy Israel.
It’s true, none of the Jews’ Arab neighbors really hold any love for Israel. History, bad blood, culture – call it what you will, it probably won’t change in our lifetimes. Iran isn’t an Arab country, but the Sunnis don’t really hold a lot of love for the Shi’a either (though probably marginally more than they do for Israel.) From a regional perspective, therefore, Iran has enough to worry about without Israel.
In fact, in Tehran’s perspective, Israel is a lot like the super whiny 5-year-old who lost his toy or has been denied ice cream: a lot of noise is being made, but that’s about it. Israel is a periphery of Iranian foreign policy. Ahmadinejad showed as much at the UN by talking about the world at large, and reducing Israel to a mere footnote in the broader global issues. (Incidentally, mistranslating and manipulating Ahamdinejad’s words and putting them on repeat isn’t helping anybody either.)
I’ve yet to see Israeli politicians really talk about anything other than Israel.
3) Iran is irrational, and needs a red line.
Give Iran nukes, and the world will end. That’s more or less the picture that’s painted. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu even used a graph to show us how it’s going to happen. (Bomb design isn’t one of Bibi’s strong points.)
What do we say of the Dimona nuclear facilities, and about the fact that Israel’s nuclear weapons are a public secret?
In the West, we call that a rogue state. Consult North Korea for a direct comparison; Israel looks exactly the same. At least Pyongyang submits to some inspections, whereas Israel is subject to none. Iran, in manipulating information and maintaining a “it’s complicated” relationship status with the IAEA, still remains a signatory, providing some light into its nuclear activities. Speaking of rationalism, Saddam and Muammar stopped their WMD programs and are now discussing the consequences of that over a beer with the devil. Tehran is certainly taking notes, but for all its faults, staying firm in not yet weaponizing uranium is a testament to the maturity of Iranian foreign policy.
In the event of a war, a strike on Iran’s facilities will only legitimate Iran's development of nuclear weapons on the completely rational grounds of national security – and then Israel will really have to think twice about its politics and choices. Oh yeah, and the Ayatollah mentioned some time ago that nukes are against Islam, and whatever the Ayatollah says is more or less law.
So, what’s Israel’s red line?
4) Nuclear weapons provide security, and ensure a country's survival.
The USSR had nuclear weapons, but there no longer is a Soviet Union to speak of.
5) No more questions?