In the Arena

Today in Tehran

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Initial reports seem to indicate that the Khamenei regime was able to arrange massive crowds–and the green protesters not so many–for the 31st anniversary of the Iranian revolution. If true, this would be a clear setback for the anti-regime movement…but it’s probably best to reserve judgment until more complete reporting from Tehran emerges. At the same time, I wouldn’t put too much credence in Ahmadinejad’s claim today that Iran is a “nuclear state” and has already produced 20% pure highly-enriched uranium, especially in light of this report from the Washington Post.

Given these events, and also this report from David Sanger of the New York Times about Obama’s diplomatic strategy, don’t be surprised if there’s a ramping up of war fever among the neoconservatives–and accusations that Obama’s unwillingness to egg on the protesters has helped “kill” the movement. This is nonsense, of course. And most of the “get tough” proposals that the neocons are making would probably serve to alienate the protesters, who are–as Robert Wright pointed out in the Times a few days ago–as much in favor of Iran’s nuclear program as the regime is.

Update: Andrew Sullivan’s final compilation of the day.

Update: Right on cue, Jennifer Rubin–the Commentary blog’s ranter-in-chief–comes through with the expected attack, complete with a classic Israel First peroration:

Meanwhile, where is the American Jewish community? Have they not noticed the retreat by the Obami on serious sanctions — and can they not anticipate the moment at which the Obami will declare Iran’s nuclear status a fait accompli? You would think they would be sounding the alarm and registering disapproval of the administration’s sleep-walking-toward-containment gambit. But it seems that they, too, are slumbering. Meanwhile, the mullahs inch forward with their nuclear program as Obama dreams up reasons to do nothing.

Earth to Jennifer: containment worked against the Soviet Union, a far more serious threat to the United States than Iran ever will be. A nuclear-weaponized Iran would not be a good thing, but it would provoke a serious, air-tight anti-Iranian coalition among the United States, the neighboring Sunni states and, yes, Israel. Who knows, it might even nudge the Saudis  and Gulfies toward recognizing a Jewish state. In any case, Iran would never use a nuclear weapon against Israel–because Israel has the ultimate deterrent.

I can see, of course, why Israel is concerned about Iran–especially its support for Hizballah (which, we should always remember, was created by Lebanese Shi’ites in response to Israel’s invasion of their land) and, to a lesser extent, Hamas. I can see why American Jews would be concerned about the security of Israel; I know I am. But, as an American, I’m far more concerned about other things at home and overseas: the state of Pakistan’s shaky government and nuclear arsenal, for one; the progress of the war in Afghanistan, for another; our relations with China, for a third. Add to those my long-term concerns about the U.S. economy, climate change and my belief that we have a moral obligation to provide health care for all…and Israel recedes pretty far down my list of priorities. I would imagine that many other American Jews feel the same way, especially those not infected by Likud’s Greater Israel fantasy.

In the end, I suspect the Israelis will be able to take care of themselves–and I further suspect they’ve been doing an excellent job of implanting gremlins in the Iranian nuclear fuel enrichment process, which has been far more effective than sanctions at slowing down any possible attempts at weaponization. I wish them, and us, continued success in these efforts.

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