EXCERPT: The tracking of these scenarios on Iranian-Israeli relations over the past year suggests we should not to be lulled into complacency; the threat of war is growing.
TEXT: In September 2007, a base study of the future of Israeli-Iranian relations posited several alternative scenarios for the future of the then highly tense relationship, including a Nuclear Standoff Scenario depicting a still dangerous but relatively well-managed regional political situation. Now, with the passing of the Bush Administration, the conclusion of
Nuclear Standoff Scenario.
Following a transitional period of very high tension but with mutual political skill that keeps the extremists on each side at bay,
The key dynamic causing behavior in this scenario was identified as a feedback loop in which willingness to negotiate on one side promoted willingness to negotiate on the other side.
- Agreement on principle of no first strike
campaign to reduce the number of nuclear states U.S. cuts some domestic nuclear programs to "move toward a non-nuclear world" U.S. joins NPT Israel
- Israel declares existence of nukes
- Israel offers plan to reduce nukes
Israeland agree to accept same rules on nukes Iran
- formal recognition of independent Palestinian state
- return of Golan Heights to Syria
Developments Since September 2007.
In the year that has passed since this scenario was written and the milestones defined (the above list includes milestones defined in 2007 plus some implied by the scenario), none of the milestones related to the nuclear issue has even been seriously addressed in public, as far as I am aware. Significant debate has centered around the issues of establishing a Palestinian state and the return of the Golan Heights to Syria, but the prospects of a breakthrough on either front seem dimmer now than a few months ago.
Moreover, rather than political skill having kept the extremists at bay, in
- The savagery of Israel’s attack on Gaza, which it had itself provoked by reneging on its own summer 2008 ceasefire agreement;
- Outright calls for the most extreme measures, including murder of enemy leaders and ethnic cleansing became common and evidently were deemed acceptable by the culture, for they were not punished;
- In the general election, moderates seemed invisible, with all major parties competing to outdo each other’s toughness and the most extremist improving its standing and the others showing willingness to compromise with it despite its rhetoric.
- Whether or not obvious indications that its American patron is considering moving precisely in the direction of this scenario with
Iranwill pull along with it or make the increasingly empowered Israeli extremists feel pressured to take action while they still have time. Israel
- Whether or not Israeli decision-makers will interpret the results of
Israel’s attack on Gazaas evidence that they should attack . Iran
- foreign pressures against Iran, including demands that Iran accept rules on nuclearization much stricter than those other countries are expected to obey, have made it easy for Ahmadinejad to portray himself as a nationalist leader protecting his country;
- the rise to power in Iraq of Shi'ite factions with close historical ties to Iran has opened the door to both a rise in Iran's regional status and to Iranian participation in Arab affairs;
- the lack of progress toward Palestinian independence plus the tepid support of Arab regimes for the Palestinians has enabled Ahmadinejad to pose as the leader of Muslim voices for justice.
- whether or not the Obama Administration will make serious moves toward accommodating Iranian interests;
- whether the development of U.S.-Iranian understanding will undercut or provoke Israeli hostility toward Iran.
This was a very modest scenario, positing only minimal movement by
In a future post, a much more dangerous scenario will be updated: Victory for al Qua’ida. Subsequently, the Iranian-Israeli political relationship will be examined as a complex adaptive system to see how such a perspective may shed light on the dynamics underlying its evolution.