Democracy Arsenal

« Afghanistan: Why Do We Stay? | Main | What Happens When GOPers Say Something Reasonably Correct about Afghanistan »

July 06, 2010

What Obama and Netanyahu Should Discuss
Posted by Joel Rubin

This piece was co-written with Center for American Progress Senior Fellow Brian Katulis and originally appeared on Foreign Policy Magazine's MidEast Channel.

This week's meeting between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu comes at a sensitive juncture -- Middle East peace efforts remain largely stuck, Iran continues to move forward with its nuclear program, and the United States and Israel are looking to patch up their bilateral ties after one of the rockiest years in recent memory between the two countries. The fundamental goal of the meeting is to bring the two countries towards closer strategic alignment on these issues. Doing so will require both Obama and Netanyahu to learn lessons from the events of the past few months.

First, the latest round of United Nations, American, and European sanctions mark a new and sensitive phase on Iran policy, and there is deep uncertainty about what comes next. Yet while the United States and its allies cannot afford any surprises or miscalculations, the recent experience during the Gaza flotilla incident should provide reason for concern. The strategic blowback from that incident demonstrated the downsides of how Israel's current government seeks to safeguard its security. One pressing question is what lessons Israel takes from the flotilla incident as both it and the U.S. consider their options on Iran. Regrettably, if Israel's raid on the flotilla is an indicator of what can go wrong when Israel tries to secure its southern border, then the international community should be doubly concerned by any military action Israel might take against Iran.

Second, the Gaza flotilla raid demonstrated that Israel does not always effectively game out the strategic and political consequences of its military operations -- something that also witnessed in the 2006 war against Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, a finding affirmed by Israeli government inquiry. At times, the Israeli political and security leadership have made decisions that lacked sound military strategy without thinking through the likely international reaction. This ultimately undermines Israel's own security by undercutting its support around the world. Neither Israel nor the United States can afford to see a replay in Iran of what happened in Lebanon four years ago or off the shores of Gaza five weeks ago.

Third, there is a clear risk that Israel might move ahead with a military strike against Iran that would not likely succeed in improving either its security or strategic position -- similar to the results it achieved from the flotilla incident. From an operational, tactical, and strategic standpoint, Israel's handling of the flotilla incident did not improve its overall security -- it only maintained an unsustainable and fragile status quo. In turn, it is not clear that it would obtain better results through a strike on Iran, especially as few analysts think that military action against Iran's nuclear infrastructure would stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. The most obvious nuclear targets -- above ground nuclear facilities -- are only one part of a vast and growing network of facilities, many of which are underground. The hidden facilities would remain and a preemptive strike would probably both motivate the regime to redouble its efforts to seek the bomb and bestow Tehran with more room to maneuver from the international community than it deserves.

Given these realities, the Obama administration should place a higher premium on enhancing its political and military coordination with all key allies in the region, particularly Israel. President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu need to make sure that their teams have honest, frank, and proactive strategic discussions about the benefits and costs of all options in dealing with Iran. A more thorough preparation for all contingencies -- ranging from military action and regime change to unconditional diplomatic engagement with offers of security guarantees -- should be quietly discussed.  But the two leaders should also have their teams discuss the costs and benefits of an eventual containment strategy should Iran acquire a nuclear weapon. Such discussions should set clear red lines to avoid surprises, and ultimately should also include the perspectives and likely reactions of other key American allies in the region.

For too long, U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East has been stuck in a tactical mode, reactive to events like the flotilla incident. This has not enhanced American or Israeli security, despite the urgency of the threats our countries face. Last month's raid on the Gaza flotilla was a wakeup call. The United States cannot afford any additional surprises on the multiple fronts of its Middle East strategy -- it has come to expect the unexpected from countries like Iran and Syria -- but it is not helpful when our closest allies offer their own surprises.

The Obama-Netanyahu meeting should therefore seek to establish a new bilateral strategic coordination group consisting of senior members of both security teams -- and the first issue this new group should discuss is next steps on Iran. Our two countries cannot afford to surprise each other in this dangerous part of the world.

Brian Katulis is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. Joel Rubin is Deputy Director and Chief Operating Officer of the National Security Network.

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d83451c04d69e20134853eec14970c

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference What Obama and Netanyahu Should Discuss:

Comments

The christian louboutin pumps are crafted with the same amount of expertise and giving you the same color and design.The material used is not just another cheap substitute of the original.Christian Louboutin replicas are such an amazing copy of the true piece that even the toughest of the observers cannot make out which is the original and which is the replica.They give you the best of comfort,style,elegance and durability as the original would give.

Oh come on. This is simply a photo-op to get the Lobby money flowing into the Dem campaign chests. This charade has been going on for a generation at least.

They turned to the crowd who were fleeing scattered, and then his wife came to the north with the crowd, her husband went to the south, so the two were separated from the turbulence of links of london war for nearly ten years. It was a chance, his wife came to the South in market saw a very familiar links of the links of london silver bracelet, the owner really see it - is his long-lost husband, the couple links of london bracelet hugged each other and cry, links of london silver bracelet so that they can find the most links of london sweetie bracelet pro-people is indeed to bring luck to the people's jewelry,

I would say Barack Obama should merely wish Binyamin Netanyahu a happy Passover and be done with it.those two have nothing in common except being carbon-based life forms...

I encourage everyone a great website. webmaster
More like the posts and admire your site so I expect we so voice-family as we want from you to take a leaf out sister site....thank you...

sesli sohbet

This is simply a photo-op to get the Lobby money flowing into the Dem campaign chests. This charade has been going on for a generation at least.Christian Louboutin replicas are such an amazing copy of the true piece that even the toughest of the observers cannot make out which is the original and which is the replica.http://www.canada-laptop-battery.ca/

They turned to the crowd who were fleeing scattered, and then his wife came to the north with the crowd, her husband went to the south, so the two were separated from the turbulence of links of london war for nearly ten years. It was a chance, his wife came to the South in market saw a very familiar links of the links of london silver bracelet, the owner really see it - is his long-lost husband, the couple links of london bracelet hugged each other and cry, links of london silver bracelet so that they can find the most links of london sweetie bracelet pro-people is indeed to bring luck to the people's jewelry,

I encourage everyone a great website. webmaster
More like the posts and admire your site so I expect we so voice-family as we want from you to take a leaf out sister site....thank you...


For a pair of sleek gloves that would look great with spyder ski, These gloves are perfect for those who live in metropolitan areas where the spyder in the winter because these gloves are lined with extra warm and spyder jacket for that added layer of warmth and spyder.The slim lines of spyder jackets are convenient enough to slip into spyder ski wear when not needed.For a great pair of gloves that will keep up with you on the slopes even in the Paul smith outlet, The Thermacore insulation on these gloves will keep your fingers warm even when the freezing wind and Paul smith on you. The hidden heater and vent pocket stashes extra warmth on the cold days and dumps excess heat in the spring.

I want to say very thank you for this great informations. now i understand about it. Thank you !

The comments to this entry are closed.

Emeritus Contributors
Subscribe
Sign-up to receive a weekly digest of the latest posts from Democracy Arsenal.
Email: 
Powered by TypePad

Disclaimer

The opinions voiced on Democracy Arsenal are those of the individual authors and do not represent the views of any other organization or institution with which any author may be affiliated.
Read Terms of Use