The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Iran and the Bomb

Michael J. Totten is clearly the best journalist reporting from the Middle East, and there’s something interesting about him. He’s completely independent, supported by the donations from readers of his blog. His insightful, objective, and in-depth reporting shows us exactly what is missing from the biased, inaccurate, and incomplete MSM “reporting” in the region. Read him—you’ll improve your understanding of the region dramatically.

A few days ago, Totten interviewed Martin Kramer, a renowned scholar who specializes in the geopolitics of the Middle East. The interview is quite long and focuses on the impact of a nuclear Iran on the politics of the Levant, the Persian Gulf, and beyond.

Here are just a few quotes from the interview (all words are Kramer’s):
”The Iranians have a structural interest in creating doubt and uncertainty in the Persian Gulf. They have a larger population than any other Gulf state, and they don’t have the share of oil resources that Saudi Arabia has. So their first objective would be to create a climate of uncertainty.”

“Iran wants to create uncertainty there because oil is the only thing it has. Iran has nothing else — some carpets and pistachio nuts, and that’s it. Their population continues to grow, their needs continue to grow, and their grand ambitions continue to grow. So this, I think, is the first thing they would do with it. All it takes is to create a crisis or a succession of crises.”

“…if Iran also has nuclear weapons they will increasingly hedge. Things they allow Americans now — such as basing rights for operations in the Persian Gulf and beyond — will become more and more difficult to negotiate if Iran opposes them. So we would see an erosion of the American position in the Persian Gulf.”

“And like I said, they’re [the Iranians] less interested in justice for the Palestinians than they are in this [control of the Persian Gulf region]. They remind me a bit of Saddam Hussein. He said at one point that he would burn half of Israel, yet turned around and instead burned a lot of Kuwait. He wasn’t as interested in being admired by the Palestinians as he was about controlling resources. The Gulf is always very much a resource game. So that would be the first objective of the Iranians. But, of course, Iran also wants to wage proxy wars elsewhere.”

“A big country like the United States disperses its assets across a vast continent when facing nuclear adversaries. A small state [Israel] can’t do that. But within this small state is a prime Muslim holy place, the liberation of which is championed by the Iranians, and it’s in Jerusalem …

If there’s a shift of Israel’s assets from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem [because it will be less likely to be a nuclear target], the struggle over real estate up here becomes even more acute. There will be less leeway for Israeli concessions. Concessions are difficult to make in any case. Local security issues can be, in way or another, finessed, but once they play out in this mega arena of confrontation between nuclear states, flexibility diminishes quickly. It would create tremendous pressure on Israel to maintain its right to decide the future of different pieces of turf close to the city.”

The irony of the situation is that President Obama’s foreign policy places an Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement as paramount, and at the same time, seems considerably less aggressive about stopping Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. Yet, Kramer believes that a nuclear Iran will make Israeli-Palestinian peace harder, not easier and will roil the entire region and potentially, the entire Western world.

There’s much, much more in this important interview. Read the whole thing.