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Must Read, February 7, 2012

by Shmuel Rosner

February 7, 2012 | 2:30 am

Syrian President Bashar Assad (Photo: Reuters)

Where’s Obama?

Richard Cohen calls Obama “naive” on Iran and wants regime change, no less:

In his State of the Union address, Obama was pretty clear about U.S. intentions: “Let there be no doubt: America is determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and I will take no options off the table to achieve that goal.” The next sentence had a different, more forgiving, tone: “But a peaceful resolution of this issue is still possible, and far better, and if Iran changes course and meets its obligations, it can rejoin the community of nations.” This — the vaunted carrot — is startlingly naive. Where is the evidence to suggest that the men who now run Iran will slap their foreheads, say zowie (in Farsi) and conclude that they were wrong to pursue a nuclear weapons program?

Israel Can’t Act Alone on Iran Nuke Threat

Israel’s prime minister faces a tough dilemma when it comes to Iran, writes Jeffrey Goldberg in Bloomberg, as he wrestles with hard-learned unilateralism versus international diplomacy.

Netanyahu understands that a nuclear Iran could mean permanent insecurity for his people, and eventual war. But he understands, too, that his small nation would be adrift and friendless if it alienated the U.S.


(How) Should Israel Bomb Iran?

Brett Stephens of the Wall Street Journal lays out an argument for why Israel should strike Iran in the near future, and speculates as to how it should be done.

Put simply, an Israeli strike on Iran would not just be a larger-scale reprise of the attacks that took out Iraq’s nuclear reactor in 1981 and Syria’s in 2007. On the contrary: If it goes well it would look somewhat like the Six Day War of 1967, and if it goes poorly like the Yom Kippur War of 1973. Nobody should think we’re talking about a cakewalk.


Israel and Netanyahu, Pipe Down the Threats of War on Iran

Diplomacy and sanctions should be given a chance to bite, argues Leslie Gelb in the Daily Beast, and as such Israel must dial down its counterproductive saber-rattling rhetoric.

Your warnings will ignite war and will not foster Iran’s abandoning its nuclear program. Did Saddam Hussein kneel before George W. Bush’s threats? Did the Taliban handcuff itself when faced with America’s military might? Has Kim Jong-un bowed before his Western master? None capitulated even to the American superpower. Thus, it’s hard to believe that you truly calculate that Ayatollah Khamenei will cry “uncle.”


To the People of Syria

Moscow-based journalist Masha Gessen apologizes in the New York Times for Russia’s veto of a Security Council resolution on Syria, and draws a parallel between the state response to the protests there and a feared crackdown in her own country.

So it is not surprising that the Russian government would refuse to back the Arab League’s peace plan for Syria: Putin’s identification with President Bashar al-Assad has never been stronger. And the bizarre insistence of Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, that the Security Council resolution place part of the blame for the violence in Syria with the opposition there can be read as a warning of sorts to the opposition here, in Russia.


Dead End in Damascus

Russia’s support for the Syrian regime is a symptom of a fraught relationship between Moscow and Washington, says Ariel Cohen in The National Interest.

Syria is just another shipwreck resulting from Obama’s reset policy hitting the reefs. The conflicting Russian and U.S. interests in the Middle East are coming to the fore. A longtime sponsor of terror and Iran’s close ally, Syria has aided and abetted attacks on American troops and U.S. allies in Lebanon and Iraq. From the Kremlin’s perspective, the practically inevitable collapse of the Assad regime would constitute a net loss.

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