Israel and the Secret History of the Iran Deal https://mosaicmagazine.com/picks/politics-current-affairs/2017/03/israel-and-the-secret-history-of-the-iran-deal/

March 31, 2017 | Jordan Chandler Hirsch

In The Iran Wars, Jay Solomon tells the story of the warfare and diplomacy—sometimes overt, more often covert—between the United States and the Islamic Republic since the fall of 2001, when Washington became aware that Tehran was meddling in Afghanistan and harboring al-Qaeda fugitives. The book also documents a largely successful campaign of financial warfare begun by the Bush administration in 2006, slowed by President Obama almost immediately after he took office, and then used—or, perhaps, wasted—as leverage to obtain the nuclear deal. Jordan Chandler Hirsch writes in his review:

Solomon has excavated many of the deeper patterns that underlay the nuclear diplomacy. . . . John Kerry, whose role in The Iran Wars is as a kind of diplomatic Don Quixote, dashed around the region, proposing to visit Tehran in 2009 and floating massive U.S. concessions without full White House approval. . . . [The] Iranian foreign minister, Javad Zarif, responded by tweeting “Happy Rosh Hashanah,” an act of ecumenism that reportedly astonished Obama staffers. A sweet greeting here, a moderate move there: the Islamic Republic’s rhetorical morsels fed an insatiable American appetite for fantasies of a Tehran transformed.

Yet those fantasies weren’t simply about Iran. They were also about redefining America’s role in the world. For a few key figures in the administration, the nuclear talks represented something much more than preventing the spread of nuclear weapons. . . . President Obama seemed to believe that history was trending in America’s direction and that the best approach was to avoid needless confrontations that could interrupt that process. If the goal was for the United States to get out of history’s way, the greatest threat to the project was the Iranian nuclear crisis. The possibility of war, after all, meant the possibility of American imposing itself once again in the Middle East and on the globe.

The prospect of American action against Iran was just as likely to materialize as a result of a unilateral strike by Israel, which would almost certainly draw in U.S. forces. This explains why the Obama administration so feared Israeli action—a fear that in some ways defined American diplomacy with Iran. . . . The Iran Wars may [in fact] underemphasize Israel’s role in the moral and political calculus behind the Iran deal. . . . Barack Obama’s nuclear diplomacy was almost as much a contest of wills with Israel as it was with Iran. For generations, a strong U.S.-Israel relationship embodied and necessitated American leadership in the region; downgraded ties signaled a reduced regional role for the United States, with the added benefit, for some administration officials, of weakening the pro-Israel lobby in the United States.

Read more on Jewish Review of Books: https://jewishreviewofbooks.com/articles/2519/of-spies-and-centrifuges/