One of the most fascinating things to come out of the recent dust-up over the embarrassment of Vice President Biden in Israel is the reasoning offered by many Israelis and supporters of Israel for why Israel needs American support now more than ever: in effect, “don’t anger the U.S., we need their help on Iran.”
But how, as The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg put it, to “neutralize the Iranian threat”?
In light of what they termed Biden’s “debacle” in Israel, Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett once again forcefully advocated strategic realignment and engagement with Iran’s leadership, in part to get Israel to act towards pursuing peace. In the meantime, the Obama administration has continued pushing what are likely to be ineffectual sanctions on Iran, in the hopes of containing the country and its burgeoning nuclear program.
Yet as debate on Iran continues to stagnate, there is still the ever-present fear that something will snap in the Middle East, and war could break out in the event that Israel decides to act on Iran, with or without American help. It is in this context that I took another look at former Bush Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy James K. Glassman and Michael Doran’s Wall Street Journal op-ed from January, arguing for a “soft-power” solution on Iran, with a combination of sanctions, support for the Green Movement, and strategic communications helping create a situation in Iran that is more favorable to the U.S. and its allies.
While I hesitate to accept this view or advocate for regime change in Iran, whether through force or soft power, Glassman’s idea that the U.S. should be using all of its tools on Iran is an important one that deserves more attention.
For those interested in this debate, Glassman will be speaking at the New America Foundation Tuesday, March 16, discussing how he feels strategic communications can help the U.S. in Iran. The event will be moderated by Steve Clemons, and will be from 12:15 pm to 1:45 pm, and will also be webcast live here at The Washington Note.
— Andrew Lebovich