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Israel Should Keep Threatening to Bomb Iran – for the Sake of Peace

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As the drama of the nuclear talks in Vienna, has unfolded, pundits, experts and officials galore have created a lot of noise.

A day after Haaretz’s Yossi Melman declared bombing Iran was not a realistic option, Mossad chief David Barnea declared Israel would do "whatever it takes" to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear state. Across the Atlantic, the New York Times’ Thomas Friedman humbly admitted, "No one knows" what will happen next in the negotiations to resuscitate the JCPOA.

The situation feels dangerous, as Tehran and Jerusalem both engage in belligerent posturing; Israel talking about the possibility of striking Iran, talking about how close it is to passing the nuclear threshold.

But there's one form of analysis that's missing from all these takes on Israel’s and Iran’s behavior, whether ominous or perplexed, and this observation mode can clarify why the JCPOA made sense, why the U.S. pulling out didn’t and why the seemingly irrational or unreasonable behavior of both sides past and present has actually been quite rational. That under-utilized lens is conflict and negotiation theory.

First off, we need to understand how crisis management works and it relates to international economic and military agreements, particularly between foes.

A political crisis emerges when one side challenges the status quo (militarily or economically), and the other side tries to enforce that status quo. In order to avoid military confrontation, both sides have to limit their objectives, limit the means used to reach them and leave the other side a viable way out. The danger of not doing so is inadvertently motivating the other side to resist, as realist theorist Alexander George observed.

Agreements are meant to build trust and cooperation, but they also........

© Haaretz

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