In his usual blunt diplomacy, Russian President, Vladimir Putin warned Israel not to jump into immediate action against Iran, citing precedence to Iraq and Afghanistan; as he said, “to do something without knowing the final consequence is not that smart.” This came during his visit to Israel last week, and after repeated threatening remarks by Israeli leadership to take military action if Iran does not halt its nuclear enrichment.
Would an attack on Iran delay a nuclear program?
Downsides of threatening Iran: Iran is rooted in nationalism, therefore, to threaten it would potentially take away from its own citizenry defying nuclear enrichment, and instead the country would come together to thwart off an outside attack. Right now, it is imperative for Iranian citizens to initiate a collective stance against the enrichment program. If the people of Iran gain an influential voice against this and if internal legitimacy is compromised in this aspect, Iran will be left with little options but to cooperate with both its people and the international community on its nuclear facilities. Ofcourse, this isn’t a roadmap to what will happen, but it can remain a hopeful option.
Lastly, wouldn’t Israel’s public threats lead to a haste attempt to build up rather than build down? I think so. Iranian leaders and people take pride in their motivation and skills. Naturally then, they will go great lengths to protect her borders. On a primitive, fundamental level, Iran is not so “rogue” in its ambition to protect its identity. If we look at all the conflicts around the world, whether in the form of religious, ethnic, political or a hybrid, they all boil down to territory: either acquiring territory believed to be theirs, or protecting what is already theirs but now endangered. Granted, in many situations one side eventually retreats, some sort of treaty or agreement results, and although the “losing” side might not have achieved or acquired the territory it aspired, to a degree its identity is still intact. To continue to threaten military invasion, no matter the means, against Iran is not productive and will certainly not lend to any cooperation on their end. First and foremost, Iran, like any country, will protect its territory because without physical boundaries to call home, Iranians will have lost a salient feature of their identity. To do that, they just might live up to their “rogue” status and do something irrational like use its uranium enrichment build-up for a nuclear attack against intruders.
The question always is then, if sanctioning Iran does not work, threatening military action on Iran does not work, then what should be done? Unfortunately, it is much easier to say what isn’t the solution than figuring the right solution.
In this instance, I agree with President Putin’s advice that Israel should tread slowly and reconsider its strategy in its course of dealings with Iran.