The Iran nuclear deal is a transactional arrangement that will tilt the balance of power in the Middle East to either favor Iran or lead instead to a further fracturing of the Arab state system. In no way will it prevent the eventual spread of nuclear programs inching toward breakout and the final certainty of nuclear proliferation. This is the nature of transactional arrangements. These types of pseudo-business deals possess a limited time frame which can be used to strengthen or weaken (or fundamentally alter through a nuclear architecture) the geopolitical positions of competing nations. And that’s exactly what the Iran nuclear deal will do. It will be used within the region, and internationally, to foster the ebb and tide and the rise and fall of nations. Unless the Sunni Arab states can find a way to curb the Iranian advancement without further empowering the ISIS Sunni extremists, their geopolitical position will become more and more tenuous. This will cause them to rely more heavily on either a potential nuclear proliferation response or a much more immediate conventional one.
But the opposite of transactional arrangements are transformative ones. By offering a transformative plan for the region which would lead to a non-hegemonic peaceful outcome, without any nuclear weapons or their vast infrastructure, the Democrats in the US Congress could be motivated to re-think the Obama initiative (transactional) in favor of a total regional alternative (transformative). This would be especially true if such a plan had the backing of not only the Sunni Arab states but the world’s religious leaders as well. Such a plan is a nuclear-weapons-free zone embedded within an inclusive Zone of Peace (see an actual plan in “Wreaking Havoc — The Nuclear Deal and Global Finance” (Times of Israel, July 17, 2015). Without such an initiative the Obama claim to his Democratic Party cohorts in Congress, that there is no alternative to his transactional approach, will go unanswered.
In the final analysis, it is the Israeli nuclear monopoly in the Middle East that cannot be sustained. Sooner or later, Israel would have nuclear competition. This result would be inevitable. But the competition didn’t come from the Arab world, it came from Persia. And it is this fact that places the Sunni Arabs and the Jews in a unique position. They can either maintain their one-hundred-year struggle against each other, and in the process weaken themselves in the face of the American tilt toward Iran. Or they can unite to create a Middle East without weapons of mass destruction or hegemonic imperial designs. Revolutionary Shiite Islam is as much a danger to the region as revolutionary Sunni Islam or a chauvinistic Judaism. Such a Judaism fails to understand that G-d has placed the Jewish people into the midst of an ocean of Muslims for the specific purpose of finding a religious alternative to global politics through peace, not war. Until the Jews and the Arabs begin to understand the unique historic-religious situation in which they find themselves, they will remain in distinct geopolitical danger.
Both the Sunni Arab states and Israel are isolated. They are isolated within the region, and they are isolated internationally. The Jews and the Sunni Arabs are being used as pawns in a much larger global game of rising and falling world power centers worried about their own relative geopolitical positions. Because of the inability of Israel and the Sunni Arab states to overcome their historic differences, the major powers have bypassed them and now perceive Iran to be the geopolitical jewel of the region. But the concept of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” will not suffice to do anything but expand a war within the region that has already devastated the Arab peoples. Such a transitory uniting (for the purposes of war) should only be used as a final resort in the face of continued Iranian imperial encroachment. First and foremost, the Arabs and the Jews must show the world that there is indeed an alternative to Obama, Xi, and Putin’s flawed transactional nuclear deal. The alternative design for the region is a far better outcome for everyone, the P5+1 and all the peoples of the region.
So where do we go from here? The current Israeli government appears on the surface to be at a loss. Their spurious strategy is a vain attempt to persuade the US Congress to override the certainty of a presidential veto, in the blind hope that sanctions (at this late date) can be renewed, and that another and better transactional deal can be negotiated. Such a strategy will never fly. It is nothing more than a disguised attempt to get the US to bomb Iran’s nuclear sites in the aftermath of a complete diplomatic breakdown of all international understandings. Such an action would put the world into a much deeper chasm between the great powers, and it would further entangle the region of the Middle East with a future of renewed Iranian-inspired chaos.
No, the Arab Sunni states should not count on Bibi Netanyahu. Nor can they count on Obama, Putin, or Xi. They can only count on the strength of a transformational regional peace plan that has the endorsement of many global religious leaders. This peace plan must appeal to the religious idealism of a Jewish nation, whose trust in world politics is at its lowest point since the 1930s. This will not be easy, but it is certainly possible. It will require a heavy dose of Sadat-like symbolism mixed with the stunning political participation of other key heads of state outside of those on the UN Security Council. The current UN nuclear deal must be portrayed as a transactional failure whose only outcome will lead to nuclear proliferation. Those key heads of state must back up that forecast and be prepared to accept a regional transformational alternative. Once that happens, a transformative Middle East blueprint can become an international agenda item with distinct religious connotations. This will undoubtedly capture the imagination of all the world’s religious leaders.
Yes, President Obama — there is an alternative to your bad deal with Iran. It is both revolutionary and transformative. It can only happen when both Arabs and Jews unite in a spirit of brotherhood with a dual religious conviction that they are both doing the will of G-d. I pray that Prime Minister Netanyahu will read my peace plan, and that a meeting with the Saudi King can be established sometime in the next month or two. Call me a fool, but I think of myself as a religious man with a great faith in humanity and humanity’s Maker. With G-d, all things are possible.