The U.S. Stands Poised to Continue a Disastrous Strategy of Empowering Iran and Abandoning Its Allies

In a comprehensive analysis, Tony Badran and Michael Doran argue that the Biden administration’s Middle East policy aims to reinforce and to build upon that of Barack Obama, which they term “the realignment.” As Doran explained in a 2015 essay for Mosaic, the Obama White House’s goal was to promote the interests of Iran, against those of Israel and Saudi Arabia—America’s traditional allies—in order to bring “balance” to the Middle East. This approach is bound to fail, as indeed the events of the last few years have already proved:

The doctrine of realignment builds on the erroneous assumption that Iran is a status-quo power, one that shares a number of major interests with the United States. According to this doctrine, conservative Americans and supporters of Israel fixate on Iran’s ideology—which is steeped in bigotry toward non-Muslims in general, and which advertises its annihilationist aspirations toward the Jewish state in particular—but it is not useful as a practical guide to Tehran’s behavior.

The United States, so the thinking goes, [can, through rapprochement with Iran], finally remove itself from the war footing that traditional allies, with their anti-Iran agenda, have forced on it. Thereafter, diplomatic engagement with Iran will be the primary tool needed to maintain regional stability.

The realignment rests on, to put it mildly, a hollow theory. It misstates the nature of the Islamic Republic and the scope of its ambitions. A regime that has led “Death to America” chants for the last 40 years is an inveterately revisionist regime. The Islamic Republic sees itself as a global power, the leader of the Muslim world, and it covets hegemony over the Persian Gulf—indeed, the entire Middle East. But the only instrument it has ever had to achieve its objectives is regional subversion.

Iran’s militia network and nuclear program have made it strong enough to be a major factor in every troubled corner of the Middle East, but not strong enough to build an alternative order. Herein lies a curious contradiction in Khamenei’s project. Iran cannot actually hold or stabilize contested areas without a helpful American posture.

This entire strategy, moreover, aligns neatly with left-wing “cosmology.”

It equates a policy of containing Iran with a path to endless war, and transforms a policy of accommodating Iran into the path to peace. It reduces the complexities of the Middle East to a Manichean morality tale that pits the progressives against their mythological foes—evangelical Christians, “neoconservatives,” and Zionists. The realignment depicts these foes as co-conspirators with the Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman, and the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, plotting to keep America mired in the Middle East.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Barack Obama, Iran, Joseph Biden, Middle East, U.S. Foreign policy

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy