Monday, July 24, 2006
(11:59 PM) | Aryeh Rafah:
Iran: What to Do?I had a nice, link-heavy, non-financial post all worked out here about what Condi Rice should say this week when she meets with Olmert and the Palestinian PM. But then, we already know what she'll say, so why bother?
Instead, a poll. For background, consider the following:
- Iran and Syria support Hezbollah both militarily and financially. The only person I've heard deny this claim in the past week was the Syrian foreign minister, so.
- Iran had Hezbollah break several years of relatively predictable behavior and "overplay their hand" (as an Israeli official recently put it) on July 12 because, on that same day, the UN was considering a more aggressive proposal to impose sanctions on Iran. Note that the draft resolution came not from the US but from France, Germany, and the UK.
- The primary problem with UN pressure might not be getting Iran to comply but getting Russia and China to approve sanctions. Bush's childishness at the G8 ensures that without some very, very costly economic concessions (WTO entry for Russia, a currency free-ride for China) they won't support sanctions.
- Brand new Israeli PM Ehud Olmert has a lot to prove, and came into office as a supporter of Sharon's latter-day conversion to withdrawal from Palestine, albeit unilaterally. Given the necessity for Olmert to prove his leaderly credentials, that Israel's behavior hasn't been more criminal is actually surprising.
But what if the West ignored Iran's proxy war and responded in kind - with a more aggressive sanctions resolution, with devil-may-care buyouts for Russia-China in order to get consensus support, with unilateral gifts of the proposed carrots (light water reactors or whatever)?
The risk of this Lebanese thing expanding really is minimal. Syria's not stupid, and the Sunni Arab countries are more than happy to denounce Hezbollah if it will prevent an ascendent "Shiite crescent". There seem to be only two things at risk here: the future of Lebanon and its people - reason to demand a quick ceasefire and whatever uneasy peace can be found; but also a deflection of pressure from Iran.
The later could be the bigger risk. I'm curious, if you're still reading: what do you think the US should do about Iran, especially over the next few weeks?
Bonus: ideas for an October Surprise this year?