David Remnick has published a great piece at the New Yorker throwing cold water all over the idea of an attack on Iran as “a heedless attack that risks the whirlwind.” The piece is notable for beginning squarely in Jeffrey Goldberg’s psycho-historical territory– Israeli planes over Auschwitz– and ending in a good American space: the idea of containment after World War II that was pushed by wise man George Kennan.
A unilateral attack from Israel, however, would be a grave mistake for all the reasons made plain by Meir Dagan and so many others. It is terrible enough to imagine what might happen if Iran came to possess a bomb; but an attack now would almost certainly lead to a tide of blood in the region.
The Middle East today is in a state of fragile possibility, full of peril, to be sure, but also pregnant with promise. A premature unilateral attack could upend everything and one result of many would be an Israel under fire, under attack, and more deeply isolated than ever before.
“For Israel,” a columnist from Ynet, Yediot’s English-language Web site concluded, “the way to cope with the Iranian nuclear threat is to adopt indirect routes, by supporting tougher sanctions against Iran and also by securing an agreement with the Palestinian Authority that would minimize regional tensions.” This route—call it the route of rigorous containment—is the right one.
Where was this sagacious David Remnick when we needed him during the runup to the disastrous Iraq War? Well, then he was influenced by neoconservatives like Jeffrey Goldberg– not by the Kennan realists–and he urged that war on, probably in some strong measure because of his love of Israel.