Assuming the Iran deal holds among the P5+1, including the US (it’s a foregone conclusion it will hold in the other countries, nearly impenetrable in the US), then what is Israel’s strategy going forward?
The biggest problem with this deal is not the legitimacy of Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Nukes, if you haven’t noticed, tend not to be used. They have been used twice in combat in history and countries have avoided using them ever since. The more time that passes, the less of a chance one will be used. They enter strategic calculus however, in that military strategists cannot afford the luxury of the assessment I just gave: basically, there is always the possibility a country might use a nuke, so we have to be careful engaging the enemy.
Most importantly, countries with Mike’s know their enemies are suddenly going to be careful not to provoke or respond to military maneuvers. THAT’S WHAT’S IMPORTANT ABOUT THE DEAL. Iran might not have a weapon, but they wouldn’t need much work to get one. So, for all intents and purposes, Iran is ALREADY a nuclear power because many assume that even if a small war broke out between the US and Iran for noncompliance, their entire nuclear program couldn’t be destroyed, giving some unknown facility the go-ahead to make a bomb.
This is a theoretical scenario that now affects Iran’s own strategy. They now have the world’s caution in their backpocket. It could possibly be the reason Iran got such a generous deal, that the world powers calculated that Iran was virtually a nuclear power and that Iran already felt they could act with global caution hesitating to prevent Iranian military policy in Iraq or its support for Syria and Hezbollah.
That is what is dangerous about the deal, but even Israel might not argue on that aspect if indeed the strategic calculus was sound that Iran was already a virtual nuclear power with too much leverage. That’s what people would call “one thing.”
That doesn’t explain the lifting of sanctions though. Iran can threaten to become more aggressive with military policy and support for hostilities against Israel and other groups in the Middle East, but it still wouldn’t force Western hands to end sanctions. The West could have launched more sanctions, forcing the Iranians to give in on something more.
The fact is that Iran has a freer and now more resource-laden hand to act in the Middle East and possibly beyond. John Kerry’s promise that sanction relief is not allowed to be used to support terrorism or Iranian military policy is stupid – there’s no other word for it – because with the freed funds going into economic investment, other finances can be simply rebudgeted to offensive activities. Basically, Kerry’s argument is not an argument and is kind of pathetic as far as propaganda goes (and living in Israel, I’ve seen a lot of pathetic propaganda).
There’s more to this deal for sure, but just remember it’s not the potential nukes that are the problem at this point. It’s Iran’s strategic depth.
Iran Deal Scenario that Endangers Israel: Stronger Hezbollah
The economic relief here lets Iran divert resources to defense spending, including relieving the pressure on its proxy Hezbollah and declining ally, Bashar al-Assad. Right now, the Syrian Civil War is a problem for Israel, but less so with Hezbollah and Syria’s losses of late.
There is an assumption that there must be one, single regime ruling in Syria to create stability. This is evident in some policy recommendations that urge the White House to prevent the breakup of Syria and Iraq because, for some reason, that would mean instability for the world. Never mind the fact that a single, solitary regime that crushed its opponents is the primary reason for the creation of a Pandora’s box in Syria to begin with. Whatever.
Based on that, there is an assumption Iran is a potential partner to defeat ISIS and other Sunni groups in the region. Just read Trita Parsi’s endorsement of the deal. He is swimming in the idea of an intense if not covert military alliance between the United States and Iran to fight the enemies of the Syrian and Iraqi governments (who are strongly influenced by Iran).
Hezbollah is drained in terms of morale, but a whole bunch of money might change that, particularly for better weapons and armor. The same might go for the Syrian army to some extent.
Reinvigorated, Hezbollah would be able to stymie renewed pressure to withdraw from Syria and disarm. A disarmed Hezbollah means a quiet Israeli-Lebanese border. But Hezbollah with resources is interested in conflict, since its primary justification to be armed is to wage war with an imaginary occupying enemy called Israel.
The end of Hezbollah would also mean the end of the most significant proxy force in the world. It would also allow Israel to re-rebrand itself from being a proxy force to an independent one again. Right now, Israel’s power status is reduced by their virtual defanging in the diplomatic realm, having no influence on deals like the one in question when they previously did.