There Is Still Hope That Iran Won't Emerge Victorious in Lausanne

There are a few indications that positions on the Iranian nuclear deal are hardening in Washington, probably due to pressure from Israel and Congress.

Israel Harel
Israel Harel
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A member of the Iranian media walks on an open air chess board at the site of negotiations about Iran's nuclear program, March 30, 2015 in Lausanne, Switzerland.
A member of the Iranian media walks on an open air chess board at the site of negotiations about Iran's nuclear program, March 30, 2015 in Lausanne, Switzerland.Credit: AP
Israel Harel
Israel Harel

The excitement began last Thursday: The French news agency reported a nuclear accord with the Iranians was near. And, surely by chance, cable television’s Channel 8 aired a documentary about the weakness and shortsightedness of the leaders who capitulated to Hitler and let him extort the Munich Agreement. Most scholars of the period believe that the Nazi army wasn’t ready in September 1938 for an all-out war against the European powers; that if not for the feeble conciliation, especially on the part of the British, the forfeiture of the Sudetenland could have been prevented; and that even if the Sudetenland were forfeited, the German seizure of the rest of Czechoslovakia could have been halted by force.

But even though agreement after agreement was violated, Europe’s leaders, led by Britain’s Neville Chamberlain, ignored the cries of the trampled, the intelligence warnings and the rebukes of the few courageous leaders, derided as warmongers, who understood what was really afoot.

I don’t believe that Channel 8 was trying to use the broadcast to express an opinion on the emerging pact with Iran — for one cannot truly compare 1938 Czechoslovakia with 2015 Israel. The Iranian army cannot conquer Israel. If it uses ballistic weapons to attack from afar, even with nuclear warheads, Iran would be destroyed and Israel, though it could be bloodied, would survive.

Despite the fundamental differences between the two eras and situations, one can still point to a certain typology: head-in-the-sand conduct by the leaders of the great powers, who prefer conciliation to a total neutralization of the threat — even when, then as now, the powers have the capability to defuse the threat before the point of no return. Iran is playing the sympathy card with the aim of getting U.S. President Barack Obama to finalize his capitulation by permitting Tehran to keep some of its venomous centrifuges, so that it will be ready to strike when the time comes.

Iran is already striking even now, in Yemen and hundreds of other places where it orchestrates its terror proxies. The intelligence agencies of the great powers are well aware of this — just as British intelligence was aware of the situation in 1938 — but the diplomats are set on their own course. If not for the tremendous pressure being exerted by Israel — really, by Benjamin Netanyahu, even in the face of scornful domestic opposition — on the Obama administration and public opinion, even greater concessions would surely be offered to the Iranian terror superpower.

Instead of standing by their government, quite a few Israelis, including some who once held sensitive security positions, have fallen in line with Obama’s policy and made statements that have only strengthened the American path of concessions. That’s how deeply they are affected by the Obama administration. So who are we to complain about Western leaders who deny reality?

These lines are being written as the final scene in this theater of the absurd is being played out in the Swiss city of Lausanne, where Iran and six world powers have been holding marathon talks on Tehran's nuclear program, a scene in which Iran is liable to emerge victorious. Yet there is still a glimmer of hope that there will be a different ending. There are a few indications that positions are hardening in Washington, probably due to the pressure from Israel and Congress, and the newly sober analyses from some influential media outlets.

Even in Tel Aviv, which said no to Netanyahu on Election Day, one can sense the rumblings of a more sober assessment. Former Mossad chief Meir Dagan and former Shin Bet security service chief Yuval Diskin are quieting the skeptics. And many of the “security experts” whose hatred for Netanyahu drove them out of their minds are no longer going out of their way to justify the Americans’ conduct. Perhaps they’ve learned a lesson or two from their support for the Oslo disaster, for the 2005 withdrawal from Gaza, for plans for a full withdrawal from the Golan Heights and for their shameful behavior on the eve of the election.

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