March 4th, 2015

PK Icon

The Speech, The Dress, And Why the Iran Negotiation Creates a Real Rift Btwn Israel and the U.S.

I shall now get a bit long winded, knowing that discussion on Israel is always triggery. But whateves.

Some will have seen a picture of a dress floating around the Internet which, depending on who looks at it and againast what set of color cues, is usually described as either gold and white or brown and blue. I have suggested that Netanyahu's speech to Congress on Iran is much the same. Depending on how you perceive U.S./Israel relations, it is either blue and white (the colors of the Isrtaeli flag, i.e., you perceive the speech as being all about Israel and whether Israel is dictating to the United States, exploiting the U.S. for domestic Israeli politics and we should stop giving them $3 billion in aid, etc. or Israel needs our support and boycotting the speech means you hate Israel, want a nuclear Iran, etc.) or red and blue (this is just another extension of U.S. partisan politics and either Boehner or Obama or Pelosi ought to be ashamed of him/herself for making our critical foreign policy subject to domestic squabbles).

i have actually mastered the neat trick of being able to flip in my brain whether the dress is white and gold or brown and blue (if it helps, I tend to generally see it as goldish-brown and a kind of really light blue that I, being a guy, would call either white or blue depending on the day but which Becky would tell me has some weird name and could pick exactly that shade of white/blue (and no other) from a color chart). So I will try to apply that here. The problem is: this really is an actual hard problem where allies have divergent interests and considerations.  What is right for the U.S. is not necessarily right for Israel (or other countries in the region). This assumes a rational Iran, because any rational country capable of developing a nuclear weapon rationally wants to do so based on the advantages it confers.

It also raises significant problems of practicality. Iran is not like other countries in the region where Israel has acted militarily to thwart the country's nuclear ambition (Iraq, Syria). Iran is large, has a large, eductaed population, significant resouces to invest, and signifcant trade relations with lots of other developed countries. None of which is comforting to those in the region who worry about expanding Iranian hegemony.

Lots more boring stuff below, mostly to get it off my chest . . .

Collapse )