Israel, Georgia, Russia, Iran, and the US

Israel shut off arms sales to Georgia to curry favor with Russia because it wants Russian help against Iran. They know you can’t pick quarrels with Russia and Iran at the same time. No doubt the Bush Administration is now figuring out the same thing. So an attack on Iran — thank God! — is now off the table.

Here’s an interesting tidbit: Israel, which has long been a major supplier of weapons to Georgia, cut off shipments before the current crisis, hoping for reciprocity from Russia on sales to Iran. That has got to make neocon heads explode. Israel, naturally, puts Israeli interests first, ahead of U.S. interests. But of course that’s flatly contrary to the idea that Israeli interests and American interests are always identical.

More to the point, it shows the box the neocons are in. They cut their political teeth on baiting the Russian bear, but they’ve been slavering for war with Iran. The Israelis know that you can’t have both, and they’ve made their choice. The neocons will probably just pretend they can have both, and call for both, and keep right on collecting their wingnut welfare.

My view is that our true policy toward Iran is to cultivate our popularity there and hope that the peaceful regime change that is surely coming to Iran will come sooner rather than later. From that perspective, an attack on Iran is sheer madness.

Any sort of pressure we put on Iran &#8212 diplomatic, economic, or military &#8212 requires Russian support, or at least Russian acquiescence. Our chances of getting that just went from slim to none. So the Bush Administration may be forced by events into adopting what I think is the more sensible softer line toward Iran.

That’s the one good result I see so far from the mess in Georgia; an attack on Iran, which always seemed like a far-fetched idea but which might not have been too far-fetched for the Bush cabal in its dying days, is now definitely off the table.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: