Iran Negotiations Will Fail, Even If They “Succeed”

The current goal of the American-led negotiations is to create a situation where the Islamic Republic is but one year away from developing an atomic bomb, supposedly leaving enough time to detect the violation and act before Iran achieves full nuclear capability. The problem, writes Emily B. Landau, is that one year is not nearly sufficient time:

[T]he quick “detection-decision-action” process envisioned by [the negotiators] will not be as smooth, problem-free, and timely as they think. In fact, there are likely to be problems of interpretation, and other political constraints at every turn. Let’s begin with presentation of evidence of a violation. Once an agreement with Iran is achieved, after so many years of difficult and time-consuming negotiations, it will no doubt be accompanied by great fanfare and praise to Iran for its cooperation. The negotiators will be ecstatic with their success, and eager to proceed with economic and political cooperation and new ties. The last thing they will want is to find evidence that the agreement is not being adhered to. In fact, the instinct of the [the U.S. and its allies] will be to look the other way if faced with evidence, and they will certainly have no incentive to actively seek it out.

Read more at National Interest

More about: Iran, Iranian nuclear program, 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