The New York Times reports that Israel sees no similarity between the “red line” on Syria and the nuclear issue:
The official, Yuval Steinitz, the minister of strategic and intelligence affairs and international relations, also said that his government saw no comparison between American policy toward Syria and the Obama administration’s announced intention to stop Iran from gaining nuclear capability.
“We never asked, nor did we encourage, the United States to take military action in Syria,” Mr. Steinitz said at a conference in New York sponsored by The Jerusalem Post. “And we are not making any comparison or linkage with Iran, which is a completely different matter [bold mine-DL].”
Of course, they are completely different matters, which is why it is revealing that some Syria hawks seem so interested in creating a close connection between them. The debate over whether to intervene in Syria has been warped from the beginning because it has often served as a proxy debate for Iran policy on account of ties between Syria and Iran, but this latest form of the pro-intervention argument relies on an even more tenuous link. The fact that the Israeli government professes to perceive no connection is significant, since there seems to be no question that the current Israeli government would try to take advantage of a connection if one existed.
There seem to be a few reasons for promoting this non-existent connection between the “red line” in Syria and Iran’s nuclear program. One is that there is apparently nothing in the entire region that some American hawks cannot eventually link to Iran’s nuclear program, because they are utterly obsessed with the issue. Another is recognition that intervention in Syria on its own merits is unpopular and has almost no backing except among the usual hard-liners. The last is that even many Syria hawks see intervention in Syria almost entirely in terms of what it means for future Iran policy, and they are more concerned to “send a message” to Tehran regardless of the wisdom of intervening in Syria (or lack thereof).