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Mr. Cheney and his allies have expressed unease at the decision last week by President Bush and Ms. Rice to proceed with an agreement to supply North Korea with economic aid in return for the North's disabling its nuclear reactor.

From Joseph Cirincione on September 14:

This time it appears aimed at derailing the U.S.-North Korean agreement that administration hardliners think is appeasement. Some Israelis want to thwart any dialogue between the U.S. and Syria.

Also, in addition to potentially disrupting the North Korean nuclear negotiations -- and perhaps also the Middle East peace conference (the "dialogue between the U.S. and Syria" that Cirincione mentions) -- the attack allowed U.S. and Israeli strategists to test the effectiveness of the Pantsyr-S1E air defense missles  used both by Syria and Iran, to better a plan a possible attack on Iran and/or to send an oblique message to Iran.

These two objectives (perhaps there were others) would have dovetailed nicely as a reason to greenlight the airstrike on this Syrian site... assuming, of course, that intelligence about a North Korea-assisted nuclear arms program turns out to have been wrong.  (However, on that, please see Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson's comments on this September 21 Worldview interview.)

Regarding the intentional disruption of peace initiatives in the Middle East, an interview I just heard with Israeli-Iranian relations expert Trita Parsi, who is promoting his new book Treacherous Alliance - The Secret Dealings of Iran, Israel and the United States, made the idea sound more plausible.  In the interview, Parsi says:

In 1991-93, that's when you see the real shift in Israeli-Iranian relations.  Because that's when the Cold War ended, and that's when Iraq was defeated in the first Persian Gulf War.  So the two threats that were pushing Iran and Israel closer together evaporated.  And there was a new security environment in the Middle East, a new environment that actually was beneficial to both Israel and to Iran, but at the same time, created a situation in which they felt that they were both unchecked.  There was no longer an Iraq that could balance Iran from the Israeli perspective.  And they started to view each other as a potential threat, and that's when this rivalry starts to emerge.  And from that time, particularly with the peace process and failed Iranian attempts to reach out to the United States, both Israel and Iran have undermined U.S. foreign policy initiatives in the Middle East, that they deemed beneficial to the other.

How so?

The Iranians, for instance, sought to undermine the peace process because they feared that if the peace process would have been successful, it would have given Israel a tremendous benefit in the region and would have created an Israel-centric Middle East order based on Iran's prolonged isolation, because everything they had done to be able to mend fences with the United States had failed.  Israel, on the other hand, after 1993, feared that if the United States and Iran negotiated, the United States would betray Israeli security interests in such a dialogue because of the tremendous amounts of strategic benefits a better relationship with Iran could give the United States.  And in that type of situation, Israel's concerns would no longer be as important.  And the Israelis and AIPAC have for quite some time undermined efforts to be able to have a rapprochement between the United States and Iran.

Here Parsi is talking about Iranian and Israeli efforts to undermine constructive intiatives for peace in the Middle East.  In this particular instance, Cirincione  suggests that the Israel may have desired to obstruct dialogue between the U.S. and Syria (though I didn't know there was any imminent warming of relations between the two countries.)  However, I don't see why the same principle could not have been applied by Cheney himself with respect to nuclear negotiations with North Korea: if he thinks taking a harder stance towards North Korea is the best policy, then it would be in his interest to subvert the nuclear talks in the short term, and accusing North Korea of assisting Syria in building a nuclear arms program and letting Israel take it out in a top-secret operation that no one can really ascertain the truth of might be one way he wanted to do this.

Is Cirincione's notion too contrived and conspiratorial?

The key to culture is religion. Daniel Dennett @ TED (Feb 2006)

by marco on Wed Oct 10th, 2007 at 01:04:37 AM EST
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