Iran, the bomb, and Israel, plus Syria, Hezballah, Hamas

Arthur Herman:

HAMAS' missile attacks on Israel last week, and Israel's thunderous re sponse, may only be the prelude for the next big Middle East confrontation between America and Iran - and a defining moment for the new Obama presidency.

Imagine if, in the summer of 1941, Adolf Hitler had approached Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt with this deal: I will cease hostilities and leave the British Empire alone, if you leave me alone to finish my extermination of the Jews. Expect Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to offer a similar deal to Barack Obama come January.

Officially, the offer will be Iranian cooperation with the West in Iran's nuclear program, possibly including United Nations inspections - if the United States reverses course on its support for Israel, including its actions against Hamas in Gaza.

Iran expert Ze'ev Maghen of Bar-Ilan University thinks this may be what top Iranian officials are preparing to offer the West in a kind of crude devil's bargain. In short, Iran's price for getting along with America, "the Great Satan," will be our acquiescence in the destruction of "the Little Satan," Israel.

Would Obama accept such a pact? Certainly many on his foreign-policy team, including Vice President Joe Biden, are on the record urging direct talks with Iran as a path to resolving the nuclear impasse - even if others on his team, like Hillary Clinton or Rahm Emanuel, resist. The problem is that Iran will clearly see a US policy of direct talks on the nuclear issue as a green light to its larger ambitions.

The violence in Gaza should remind us of who really pulls Hamas' strings, namely Iran. Iran wants to be the first nuclear power in the Middle East, and it wants to destroy Israel.

What few Americans realize, including (it seems) key Obama foreign-policy aides, is that Iran doesn't need to achieve the first objective in order to secure the second.

Iran doesn't have to rely on a nuclear bomb to annihilate Israel. It simply has to continue to close the Hamas-Hezbollah-Syrian noose around the Jewish state, until Israel is forced to allow Palestinians to reenter Israel and perhaps offer them citizenship, which could lead to the effective end of the "Zionist entity."

But Tehran knows this can't be done without US acquiescence. The mullahs will certainly assume that an offer for direct talks will open the door to charging a price for peace in Iraq and future Iranian nuclear cooperation: namely, that America stand idly by while Israel gradually ceases to be an independent Jewish state.

...

This is not a bargain that is politically possible for any US administration even if they were willing. There is a minority in this country that might find such a deal a good bargain. They are in the anti war left or the anti Israel lobby. It is the Zionist Christians who would be most opposed to such a deal. They are actually a much more potent voting block than Jews in the US. I don't think the Democrats could survive such a sellout.

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