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The Hawk Nexus

By Matthew Yglesias

"The Hawk Nexus"

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What Glenn Greenwald said. And also what Ezra Klein said. Let me note, however, that there’s a kind of dual madness to the binational US-Israeli axis of hawkishness on Iran. On the one hand, we’re pretty clearly being enjoined to either launch a war with Iran largely on behalf of Israeli security or else to support an Israeli initiation of war which, clearly, would be undertaken with Israeli security in mind. This is because the Iranian nuclear program is (rightly) seen as problematic for the United States, but fundamentally more problematic for Israel which has to live in the neighborhood.

The trouble, obviously, is that this isn’t actually a good way to deal with Iran’s nuclear program. What’s more, as M.J. Rosenberg points out the view that the Iranian nuclear program is, from the Iranian point of view, all about Israel is just mistaken. “In fact, it is primarily about the United States.” Iran, after all, would be crazy to spend more time thinking about Israel, its small high-quality military with limited power-projection capabilities, and its medium-sized nuclear arsenal than it does thinking about Israel’s giant far-off ally that’s constantly invading neighboring countries, has a huge military, and an enormous nuclear arsenal. As Rosenberg writes “That is why many believe that negotiations would be productive. In negotiations with the United States, Iran can demand recognition and security guarantees from Washington while we can demand an end to nuclear bomb development, an end to their meddling in Iraq, an end to support of Hezbollah and endorsement of negotiations as a means to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

In short, American unwillingness to negotiate is seriously compromising Israeli security. It’s only once this is taken as a given that the United States is suddently expected to act militarily on Israel’s behalf when timely diplomacy could have achieved a better result at lower cost. My suspicion continues to be that “pro-Israel” outfits and their funders on some level want the Middle East to be perpetually unstable and Israel to be perpetually at risk. Hawkish American Jews, after all, pay few if any of the costs of such a dynamic. In the meantime, it gives some meaning to their hobbyist’s enthusiasm for advocacy on behalf of Israel.

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