Daniel Levy on the comments made by the Iranian born Israeli Minister of Transportation, Shaul Mofaz, who asserted that “attacking Iran in order to stop its nuclear plans, will be unavoidable.” Considering the rising price of oil after Mofaz’s comment, Levy flippantly wonders if Mofaz has a dual loyalty to Iran.
Can it be? Mofaz must have known that his comments would cause an oil price rise and that this would help Iran. So is this an Israeli Minister acting with dual loyalty and serving the interest of Iran?
Well no, I think not. But Iran nonetheless benefited from his comments: financially—to the tune of almost 4 years worth of American military aid to Israel; and diplomatically, as Iran garnered international attention through a letter of protest to the UN Security Council).
This and other episodes of saber-rattling have had the added impact of serving to strengthen the hard-liners in Tehran and rally the public around the flag—something that overshadows the failings of Ahmadinejad’s own economic policies. In this respect, Mofaz’s statement was just one in a litany of warrior comments—unconstructive and self-defeating—that several Israeli and American politicians in particular have been serving up on a regular basis.
Ratcheting up the threatening rhetoric can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Military action against Iran would have appalling consequences across the region and beyond. But expect a sticky next few months. Responsible voices in the international community and from within the politics of the key protagonists will need to be permanently on guard and step up their game during this period. If these months can be successfully navigated, then the more promising policy option of broad-ranging direct US diplomatic engagement with Iran, backed by smarter containment, might finally be tried.
Irancove @ June 12, 2008