A role for the U.N.?

Given that the above developments remain unlikely in the foreseeable future, the risk of war will remain high before, and even after, the American elections. There is no doubt that the Israeli threat to strike Iran has a political aspect, or that the costs for Israel of a strike would be enormous. But the strategic reality still holds: Israel may be able to live with a nuclear Iran, but it is hard to believe that the Israelis would be assured by the kind of negotiated deal with Tehran that is possible, or that they would refrain from doing all they think they can to slow Iran's program. The potential risks to American interests are huge, and any administration must prepare for all contingencies. But precisely because of the enormous consequences, no idea or political effort should be avoided, even if its prospects are seemingly limited ¿ including using the upcoming U.N. conference on a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the Middle East to launch a serious regional engagement that changes the conversation and plants the seeds of new initiatives after the American presidential elections.

( April 23, 2012 )

Given that the above developments remain unlikely in the foreseeable future, the risk of war will remain high before, and even after, the American elections. There is no doubt that the Israeli threat to strike Iran has a political aspect, or that the costs for Israel of a strike would be enormous. But the strategic reality still holds: Israel may be able to live with a nuclear Iran, but it is hard to believe that the Israelis would be assured by the kind of negotiated deal with Tehran that is possible, or that they would refrain from doing all they think they can to slow Iran's program. The potential risks to American interests are huge, and any administration must prepare for all contingencies. But precisely because of the enormous consequences, no idea or political effort should be avoided, even if its prospects are seemingly limited ¿ including using the upcoming U.N. conference on a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the Middle East to launch a serious regional engagement that changes the conversation and plants the seeds of new initiatives after the American presidential elections.

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