Netanyahu and threat of bombing Iran – the bluff that never stops giving?

Huffington Post: Israel does not have the military capability to successfully eliminate Iran’s nuclear program. Even the most successful bombing campaign would only set back the known program for a few years – without affecting any potential clandestine program. This is not classified information. Military experts are well aware of Israel’s capabilities – and its limits.Yet, the threat of military action, or rather the bluff, serves a purpose: Threats of military action militarizes the atmosphere. It creates an environment that renders diplomacy less likely to succeed – it may even prevent diplomacy from being pursued in the first place. In the Iranian case, Netanyahu’s tough talk undermines the Obama administration’s prospects for diplomacy in the following ways. Getting to the negotiating table has proven an arduous task for the US and Iran. Both sides are currently testing each other’s intentions, asking themselves if the other side is serious about diplomacy or if the perceived desire for talks is merely a tactical maneuver to either buy time or build greater international support for more confrontational policies down the road. From Tehran’s perspective, uncertainty about Washington’s intentions during the Bush administration was partly fueled by the insistence of the military option remaining on the table. Tehran seemed to fear entering negotiations that could have been designed to fail, since that could strengthen the case for military action against Iran. Today, talk of Israeli strikes has similar effects. Tehran has repeatedly failed to appreciate the policy differences between Washington and Tel Aviv, oftentimes seeing them as either a perfectly coordinated team or as a single entity. Consequently, explicit or implicit threats of Israeli military action reduce Tehran’s confidence in Washington’s intentions.

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