Israel vs Iran: clash of the pariah states

With Iran demonised by Western leaders and Israel demonised by Western liberals, both countries have become unpredictable beasts.

Brendan O'Neill

Brendan O'Neill
Editor

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Topics Politics

Iran has been branded a ‘rogue state’ since the early days of Bill Clinton, whose administration was the first to use the r-word in its attempt to make sense of who was ‘good’ and who was ‘evil’ in the post-Soviet Union world. But what is striking today is the extent to which Israel now plays precisely the same role for the West’s less traditionalist, more liberal elites. For them, the real rogue state – or ‘shitty little country’, as the French ambassador to London apparently once called it – is Israel. Just as Washington uses the term rogue state to denote ‘dangerous insanity in the diplomatic world’, so Israel is described by its increasingly influential critics as being in ‘a state of insanity’ or as ‘increasingly paranoid’ and ‘dangerously erratic’. Israel is the ‘real rogue state’, observers tell us, ‘dominated by fundamentalists and armed with over 200 nukes’.

In essence, both Iran and Israel are now treated as ‘rogue states’ – Iran is discussed in this fashion by officials in Washington and London and by right-wing commentators, while Israel is branded with the r-word by behind-the-scenes UN types and virtually the whole of Europe’s respectable liberal elites. Inhabiting a highly destabilised Middle East, and finding themselves isolated and mocked by the pontificating inhabitants of that moral highground that is the ‘international community’, it’s little wonder both Iran and Israel have had their temperaments raised and have become more liable to lash out against those they consider existential foes. The current Israel-Iran clash is a product of the cynical, childish rogue games played by Western actors…

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