Leaks Reveal Arab World's Concerns About Iran
ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:
Well, we've invited a journalist who's written extensively about Iran's nuclear program, Israel and the U.S. Jeffrey Goldberg is national correspondent for The Atlantic. He wrote a lengthy article, "Point of No Return," about this earlier this year. We talked about it here. Welcome back again.
JEFFREY GOLDBERG: Thank you.
SIEGEL: Have you seen anything in the WikiLeaks cables that surprise you or that change your view of this?
GOLDBERG: The ferocity of these quotations, the ferocity and insistence on the part of these Arab leaders, it's quite something to behold. You know, the Israelis have been, obviously, very blunt in private and in public about the Iranian threat. If anything, these quotations are more ferocious than what you hear out of the Israelis. Ahmadinejad is Hitler coming from an Arab leader is pretty extraordinary.
SIEGEL: The king of Saudi Arabia, a very consequential figure in the region, saying we should cut the head of the snake off here.
GOLDBERG: I mean, this is a deep, deep, deep issue that's just now really surfaced because of these leaks.
SIEGEL: There's an irony here, which is the State Department is furious that their confidential cable, that is cables based on confidential conversations, have been made public. And yet we read in one of the cables the anxiety at State that Arab leaders won't say publicly what it is that they're saying privately about Iran.
GOLDBERG: So the Arab countries would like America, or even Israel at this point, to deal with their mess. But there's no guarantee that the Arab states would do anything to help America.
SIEGEL: There's another dimension to U.S.-Iranian tensions that's a subject of these cables, and it's President Obama's policy of offering engagement with Iran when he first became president but in fact waging a diplomatic campaign for sanctions and trying to even assure China that applying sanctions against Iran wouldn't cost it access to Middle Eastern oil.
GOLDBERG: What the Arabs want to hear, and they've been desperate to hear this for a couple of years, is: If this doesn't work, we will stop them by force. And that is what creates so much anxiety among these Arab regimes.
SIEGEL: You remarked in your blog about this today, that Secretary of Defense Gates is quoted as saying: Look, even if the Israelis do strike at the Iranian facilities, it would only set them back by a couple years.
GOLDBERG: Gates has also said that he worries that an attack will solidify or unify the Iranian people behind the regime. I don't know that that's true. I don't know if it's not true. I mean, we're dealing with such a set of unknowns here, it's mindboggling.
SIEGEL: Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic, thank you very much.
GOLDBERG: Thank you.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.