In the February-March issue of FOREIGN AFFAIRS review articles by four experts on Iran comment on an article, “The Dangers of a Nuclear Iran,” by three experts on Iran in the December-January issue. The authors of the “Dangers” article call for a greater military presence in the region, to back up a hard line diplomacy, and, if that fails, to launch a military strike on Iran.

Post Tahrir Square, this sounds like a textbook definition of a policy “overtaken by events”. All seven experts write in layers of conventional wisdom that will have to be excavated or they will crumble on their own as the ground underneath them shifts. No longer will analysts be able to say, as they do here, that Iran takes “the region’s economic marginalization, political alienation and social malaise”, blames it on the US and Israel and uses it to fuel religious radicalism and enhance the its appeal and the appeal of its clients Hezbollah and Hamas as models. Egyptians massed in Tahrir Square were blaming their own leaders, as does the brutally repressed opposition in Iran, not the U.S. and Israel. No revisionists are going to be able to revise the spectacle of a people that rose up and deposed its dictator – peacefully. That is a “new realism” for experts and leaders to get their minds around.

The author of one FOREIGN AFFAIRS article calls for a policy between Israel and Iran of Mutually Assured Destruction – the MAD of Cold War US-Soviet policy. Conceptually, this would continue an Israeli strategy of reliance on military strength for matters of its national security and of marginalizing diplomacy. In fact, one critic of the Netanyahu government, Oslo Peace Accord veteran Ron Pundak, warns that Israel is falling into a national policy of “spartheid” a combination of total militarization (Sparta), and controlling Palestinians through “Bantustans”, i.e. broken up areas of territory under their security control (apartheid South Africa).

Israel needs to turn on a dime. It doesn’t live in a world of chessboard politics anymore. Talk of a “two state” solution sounds vaguely old hat. People have a say, whether in Egypt or in Palestine. What the Palestinians are looking for is not a state, but freedom and dignity, like the people in Tahrir Square. The way to Israel-Palestinian peace may actually lie in serious diplomacy, a revival perhaps of the Arab Peace Initiative. Delegates to Arab regional meetings will now be appointed, some of them, by genuinely elected governments. Other governments will be fearfully looking over their shoulders. Israel could get its diplomatic feet wet by welcoming the serious steps that Tunisia and Egypt are taking to realize their democratic aspirations.
— Betsy Clark

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