Last update - 09:21 22/08/2008
By Daniel Levy
Israel's response to the Iranian challenge has been out of synch with developing realities for some time. Recently though, it has become dangerously counter-productive, anchored as it is in denial. As Israel intensifies its role as threatener-in-chief, and clings to a "more sticks, bigger sticks" line, events all around are moving on.
The supposed logic behind Israel's escalating threats, suggesting it is ready to go it alone militarily, is threefold. It pressures Iran, thereby increasing international leverage in negotiations; a nervous world feels compelled to up sanctions and deliver results; and the path is smoothed to international acceptance of possible future Israeli action. Except that the logic (always a tenuous one) is now being repudiated on all three fronts.
Iran apparently views the threats as a reason to pursue more vigorously, not desist from, its enrichment program. In general, Iran's perception that it is the threatened party (surrounded by U.S. forces in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Arabian Gulf) adds impetus to its weapons-acquisition program. Israeli threats only add to that momentum. Sanctions tend to be a plodding, blunt and ineffective policy instrument. Iranian technological advances have outpaced sanctions every time. Anyway, the prospects of intensifying collective UN sanctions has likely been buried in the rubble of America's spat with Russia over Georgia and its breakaway provinces.