Iran Israel Crisis

September 8, 2008

We approach the election period for the new chief of Kadima, and it’s fitting to have a brief review of the situation of the tensions between Iran and Israel.

 

This website is mostly focused on economics. But economic events of today’s scale rarely develop without having a significant impact on politics, and in turn political events usually have a lot of bearing on the direction of economic activity. Sometimes the interaction between economics and politics create a feedback mechanism that intensify the power of the underlying political or economic event. Such was the recent departure of Yasuo Fukuda, as political uncertainty is likely to amplify the economic problems.  At other times politics and economics counteract each other, and perhaps the most productive results are gained when this is the case.

 

Alas, it would seem that the present outlook for world politics is not very conducive to healthy developments. We see tensions rising in the Caucasus and Middle East, and in Japan there’s increasing lack of clarity on the future of ruler of the country. Europe and China appear stable, but developments in Russia and Iran, two of the most important suppliers of oil to the world, are worrisome. Israel is still waking from the blows of the Lebanese war, while Iraq appears to be calm under the powerful effects of Iran. 

 

To this backdrop, we have to add the ever-present, but today increasing likelihood of a conflict in the Middle East. It’s by no means certain that Israel and Iran will have a real war, but tensions are increasing continuously, while the world at large chooses to ignore the unhealthy implications of the situation.

 

The root of the issue is in Iran’s wish to acquire nuclear technology for, as it claims, energy production. Whether this is true or not is immaterial, as the perception in the west is that it’s unacceptable for this nation to realise their nuclear aspirations.

 

Iran has refused to comply with demands by US and their European allies to halt enrichment, and the UN, in turn, has imposed limited sanctions on the country, suggesting that more and more will come unless Iran changes its attitude. Israel and US seem to be in an agreement that the UN is the right medium for this issue, but this depends on this organizations ability to pass resolutions and impose its will.

 

In this context, it’s fitting to reconsider how much has been made about the recent war in Georgia, and how it means that a resurgent Russia will create a new threat against the west. But Russia sees itself as defending itself and its war in Georgia as an exact quid pro quo against the actions of the western powers in Kosovo; the Russians want to be taken seriously, and the escalation that they appear to be pressing for should be seen in this context. The real impact of the conflict between Russia and NATO will probably be seen in peripheral issues, and the Iran nuclear issue makes a fine mise en scene. Today it seems more and more unlikely that Russia will allow any serious sanctions against Iran, and this may well cause the Israelis and probably the Americans to reconsider the effectiveness of the diplomatic path in dealing with this matter.

 

If it does indeed happen, and Russia chooses to veto increased, possibly economic sanctions againt Iran, then Americans, and Israel will probably be faced with the dilemma of admitting powerlessness to stop Iran, or risking a regional conflict. The outcome will depend on the diplomatic developments, but it will also depend on the future rulers of Iran and Israel. Thus, the actualisation, and timing of any conflict will partly be determined by who becomes elected on September 17 as the new head of Kadima, and the US presidential election. Many people argue that Shaul Mofaz would be the most warlike outcome for the region, but I believe that his personal rigidity will only have implications if Israel has to launch an attack without getting US approval. Otherwise, the new ruler will be guided by events of scale that are likely to come.  

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One Response to “Iran Israel Crisis”

  1. […] September 10, 2008 Part one of this post is here. […]

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