Preventing an Israeli-Iran WarRoundup
tags: Middle East, Israel, Iran, war, international relations
Alon Ben-Meir (PhD, Oxford University) is Professor and Senior Fellow at New York University’s Center for Global Affairs, and Senior Fellow and Middle Eastern Studies Project Director at the World Policy Institute. He has authored seven books related to the Middle East, and is currently working on a new book about countering violent extremism.
The EU is in a unique position to prevent the outbreak of a war between Israel and Iran that could engulf the Middle East in a war that no one can win.
Accusing Iran of being a rogue country bent on acquiring nuclear weapons, supporting extremist groups and terrorism, persistently threatening Israel, and destabilizing the region in its relentless effort to become the dominant power may well all be justified. The question is, what would it take to stop Iran from its destabilizing activities and help make it a constructive member of the international community, and avoid military confrontation with either the US or Israel or both? The answer is not regime change, as Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and top American officials advocate, but a diplomatic solution. The EU, led by France, Germany, and the United Kingdom – who continue to adhere to the JCPOA – should initiate a behind-the-scenes dialogue and pave the way for US involvement in a negotiating process with Iran to find a peaceful solution and prevent a catastrophic military confrontation.
Evaluating US-Iran historic relations
The toppling of the democratically-elected Mosaddeq government in 1953 and the installing of the corrupt Shah as king of the country, coupled with the US’ treatment of Iran since the 1979 revolution, constitute a series of errors in judgment of successive American administrations over the past 40 years.
In the wake of the Iran-Iraq war in 1988, Iran’s President Rafsanjani made several attempts to improve relations with the US. He offered the American oil company Conoco a contract to develop one of Iran’s largest oil fields, but a deal was blocked by the US. Also, efforts made by moderates within the Shiite regime searching for common ground with the US after September 11 were rebuffed by the US, even though Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, known to be a reformer, was in power.
In 2002, President Bush shut down what was left of any opening with Iran by characterizing it, along with Iraq and North Korea, as the “axis of evil,” accusing them of being allied with terrorists “arming to threaten the peace of the world.”[i] Thus, instead of exploiting any opening to initiate a new dialogue, successive American administrations remained focused on containing Iran and never precluded the use of force to that end. Naturally, this played into the hands of radical Iranian officials, who viewed the US as the “Great Satan”, bent on undermining the regime and not to be trusted.
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