The U.S. Is Running Out of Time to Prevent an Iran Disaster

On March 4, international monitors confirmed reports that they had discovered 84-percent-enriched uranium near one of the Islamic Republic’s nuclear sites, in violation of previous agreements. Jonathan Schachter comments:

Most reports have noted that this is just shy of the 90-percent level generally considered to be “weapons grade.” Others correctly point out that uranium enriched to around 80 percent fueled the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. Almost no one mentions that Iran has no civilian need to enrich uranium in the first place. . . .

The Biden administration’s policy toward Iran reflects a clear and consistent preference for diplomacy over the use of force, and understandably so. But the White House treats the two as contradictory, rather than complementary. For over two years, the administration has demonstrated its reticence to use, or even credibly threaten to use, force against Iran. Manifestly undeterred, Iran has continued and accelerated its drive toward the nuclear threshold.

In other words, America’s soft-handed approach and global events are making a diplomatic solution less likely. If Washington continues on its current path, the world almost certainly will face a nuclear-armed Iran, a war to prevent that eventuality, or both.

It is not too late to act, [however]: the president, his administration, and Congress can make clear that the United States and its allies can and will use force to prevent Iran from violating its nuclear obligations. The United States would not be moving its red lines, but rather enforcing them. Doing so would send a powerful message to Iranian leaders that they have already crossed America’s red lines and need to back down.

Read more at Hudson Institute

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


Recognizing a Palestinian State Won’t Help Palestinians, or Even Make Palestinian Statehood More Likely

While Shira Efron and Michael Koplow are more sanguine about the possibility of a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and more critical of Israel’s policies in the West Bank, than I am, I found much worth considering in their recent article on the condition of the Palestinian Authority (PA). Particularly perceptive are their comments on the drive to grant diplomatic recognition to a fictive Palestinian state, a step taken by nine countries in the past few months, and almost as many in total as recognize Israel.

Efron and Koplow argue that this move isn’t a mere empty gesture, but one that would actually make things worse, while providing “no tangible benefits for Palestinians.”

In areas under its direct control—Areas A and B of the West Bank, comprising 40 percent of the territory—the PA struggles severely to provide services, livelihoods, and dignity to inhabitants. This is only partly due to its budgetary woes; it has also never established a properly functioning West Bank economy. President Mahmoud Abbas, who will turn ninety next year, administers the PA almost exclusively by executive decrees, with little transparency or oversight. Security is a particular problem, as militants from different factions now openly defy the underfunded and undermotivated PA security forces in cities such as Jenin, Nablus, and Tulkarm.

Turning the Palestinian Authority (PA) from a transitional authority into a permanent state with the stroke of a pen will not make [its] litany of problems go away. The risk that the state of Palestine would become a failed state is very real given the PA’s dysfunctional, insolvent status and its dearth of public legitimacy. Further declines in its ability to provide social services and maintain law and order could yield a situation in which warlords and gangs become de-facto rulers in some areas of the West Bank.

Otherwise, any steps toward realizing two states will be fanciful, built atop a crumbling foundation—and likely to help turn the West Bank into a third front in the current war.

Read more at Foreign Affairs

More about: Palestinian Authority, Palestinian statehood