by James A Russell
Nov. 17, 2013

Whether we Americans like it or not, there is a profound struggle for control over our nation’s foreign policy in the Middle East. Push has finally come to shove, with the unseemly sight of Israeli government officials and AIPAC lobbyists fanning out on Capitol Hill to actively discredit the Obama’s administration’s attempt to craft a deal with Iran to bring the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program back under comprehensive international safeguards. After being supported for decades by tens of billions in American taxpayer dollars, free defense equipment, and unquestioning and limitless political support on countless occasions, Israel has shown its gratitude by biting the hand of its principal benefactor.

All Americans both in and out of government would do well to consider an abiding truth in the standoff with Iran over its nuclear program: there is no military solution to this problem. Iran has the money, technical capability, and the infrastructure to build a nuclear weapon if chooses to do so. Bombing Iran to destroy a nuclear weapons program that the US intelligence community states does not exist only ensures that Iran will eventually build its own bomb. No amount of Israeli or US bombs can alter these essential realities.

The stakes in this struggle or control over our foreign policy couldn’t be higher — from both a negative and positive perspective: the future of the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) regime as an instrument to control the spread of nuclear weapons; the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran and a resulting arms race in its already unstable region; and another regional war pitting some combination of Israel, the United States and the Gulf Cooperation Council states against Iran and its clients.

Alternatively, an interim deal with Iran as a step towards a comprehensive agreement to limit Iran’s program opens up the prospect of a more favorable strategic framework throughout the region and an end to the 34-year undeclared war between the United States and Iran. Such a settlement offers the alluring prospect of a way to lower regional tensions and to cooperatively address the myriad problems faced by the region and the international community in Syria, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Bahrain and elsewhere.

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