Is war between Israel and Iran inevitable? Certainly one would be left with that impression if one solely listens to Israeli and Iranian hawks. All too often, the voice of the moderate center is lost in all the bluster. Reality is, however, war is not inevitable at all. As Shlomo Ben-Ami, Israel's former foreign minister and I wrote in the Christian Science Monitor yesterday:
Any serious effort to address the Iranian challenge must recognize the true nature of the conflict. There is nothing apocalyptic about the nuclear stand-off or the Israeli-Iranian rivalry. Rather, these are strategically driven conflicts that can be managed and even resolved through the appropriate level of diplomacy.
A give and take is needed between Iran and Israel in which Iran must end its support for violent groups and acknowledge Israel's legitimate security concerns. Israel and the US must accommodate an Iranian role commensurate with its geopolitical weight and use Iran's inclusion into regional political and economic structures to tame Iran's revolutionary impulses.
In the op-ed, we also point out that we must also reject the mindset in which we view military options as guaranteed solutions and diplomatic efforts as guaranteed failures. A military attack on Iran would only lead to Iran leaving the Non-Proliferation Treaty, making a crucial decision to go for a bomb and not just the capability for a bomb, and it would kill the Iranian pro-democracy movement.
Consequently, a successful bombing campaign by either the US or Israel would simply guarantee a nuclear armed and vengeful Iran five years down the road. Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the IAEA, said recently that if Iran left the NPT, it could build a nuclear weapon within a year.
You can read the op-ed here.