For years now, Israel and its allies have been adamant that Iran’s nuclear ambitions are not only a threat to Israel, but to the stability of the entire region and the safety of the world. At the same time, various pundits have accused Israel and its “neocon” supporters of inventing a case for war, and pressuring the United States to spend its blood and treasure on Israel’s behalf.
A new trove of State Department documents, leaked to the media by the sketchy activist group WikiLeaks, manages to support Israel’s case and undermine the accusations of its critics. Cables between Arab leaders and U.S. diplomats suggest that the Muslim world is every bit as concerned as Israel about Iran’s ruthless nuclear ambitions. From Bahrain to Saudi Arabia, Arab leaders shared their deep fears with American officials, urging aggressive action (preferably by someone else) and hinting at a strained alliance with Israel at odds with their public excoriation of the Jewish state.
The cables also suggest an aggressive, serious approach by the Obama administration in facing the Iranian threat — a concerted combination of negotiation, threats, and sanctions, with force left conspicuously on the table. In recent weeks that strategy appeared to be paying dividends, with Iran hinting at the kinds of talks and inspections it had brazenly shunned in recent months.
A number of factors suggest that the doomsday clock has been pushed back by a few minutes: the computer worm that is crippling Iranian centrifuges, the targeted killings of top Iranian nuclear architects, and hints from the cables that Iran is further from nuclear capability than officials had let on.
None of this should be taken as cause for complacency. As the regional consensus reminds us, Iran remains a credible threat, with the ability to ignite a regional arms race, if not a nuclear winter. All sides must keep the pressure on and recognize the global threat out of Tehran.