Iran won’t crush Israel

In a remarkably depressing article, Cliff Thier writes that Israel is finished when Iran gets its nuclear weapons, even if they are not used.

The minute Iran has the bomb, Israel will begin to shrink. Jews in Israel will start to pack up and leave. Some at first, but more and more over time, Israelis will leave. Panic will begin to set in after the first 100,000 Jews or so have left their homes vacant. Businesses will be unable to fill job openings. The armed forces will find themselves combining brigades and companies.

There’s more emotional prose, including the image of newspapers blowing along empty streets, but you get the idea.

The fact is, that despite the fact that the Obama Administration is strongly opposed to an Israeli attack on Iran, Israel will fight for her life  in a way that nobody envisions — not Iran and not the  US — when the red line is crossed. Despite the political weakness of recent regimes and even a certain spiritual malaise affecting some segments of Israeli society, this is not a nation that will sit under a nuclear shadow and wait. The lessons of the Holocaust are part of the national consciousness in Israel, much more so than among Diaspora Jews.

But Thier thinks that this outcome is inevitable, because the US administration will not allow Israel to strike until it is too late, even if it must use military force to prevent it:

Israel knows it must do take out the nuclear weapons capability of Iran. And yet, Israel will not be able to do it. Not because it doesn’t have the military might to do so. And not because it lacks the will. But because Barack Obama will order the United States Air Force to stand in its way if it tries. Between the airfields of Israel and the reactors and research labs and storage facilities of Iran sit the armed forces of the United States and its hundreds of planes, missiles and radar. With our bases in Iraq and those floating in the Persian Gulf, the United States separates Israel and Iran. Obama would have to give his okay for Israel to pass. Obama will not.

With all due respect to the US Air Force and Navy, as well as the x-band radar which the US has installed at Nevatim, near Beersheba — and from which Israeli personnel are barred — Israel will find a way to do what is necessary. Survival is a powerful motivator, and the history of the IDF could be told as a series of episodes of solving problems like this. The destruction of the Iraqi (1981) and Syrian (2008) atomic reactors are examples.

Thier also goes on at length about the way Obama bowed to Saudi King Abdullah at the recent G-20 summit, in support of his thesis that Obama has decided to tilt towards the Arab world and away from Israel (never mind that Bush, too, bowed to the Saudi monarch), and he castigates American Jews for their unreasonable support for Obama (never mind Republican incompetence in governing and campaigning).

Leaving aside Thier’s political hobbyhorse, he’s right that powerful elements of the US administration are pushing to move the US away from Israel and in the direction of the Muslim world. This is not necessarily the same direction — Saudi Arabia and Egypt are on a very different wavelength from Iran and Syria, for example. But there is no question that the one way to make all the Arabs and Iranians happy is to withdraw support for Israel; and while most US officials would say that we continue to support Israel, some would add that we have favored Israel, and that we should stop.

But this is disingenuous. Unfortunately for Israel, she is engaged in a struggle to survive, and a US tilt away from her would be disastrous. I am sure that many of those who advocate it, like Zbig Brzezinski or Brent Scowcroft, understand this quite well and wouldn’t shed a tear over Israel if the worst happened.

And as I’ve argued,  rather than Thier’s nightmare scenario of Israel withering under Iranian nuclear threat while the US stays its hand, the most likely outcome will be that Israel will take necessary action anyway, sooner rather than later.

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11 Responses to “Iran won’t crush Israel”

  1. ME says:

    Good point about not subscribing to impending doom scenarios, with respect to the isolated issue of the Iranian nuclear situation.

    Supporting a flourishing democracy in an area where such political and social dynamics have generally been absent, is positive.

    It is not clear what you meant by “disingenuous.” That Israel may have been erroneously viewed as having received favoritism from US?

  2. Vic Rosenthal says:

    That people like Brzezinski would be happy to see Israel disappear. They sre not wholly (or even at all) honest when they claim to ‘support’ Israel.

  3. ME says:


    Well, Israel is the best place to support because it is burgeoning democracy, with great influence for many people in the Middle East and around the World. Israelis spread good will for the full and most part and provide genuine contributions to society and culture around the World.

    So, consider the source of those disingenuous ninnies . . . the same weight of ignorance accorded in their misperceptions is the same weight of credence their influence will be given in meaningful spheres.

  4. ME says:


    What support do you have for the contention about the Obama administration and America’s perceived lack of support with respect to Israel’s security, aside from fears based on decisions that do not correspond with traditional approaches to Iran, that have been unsuccessful?

    In other words, if you were in a position to control anything with respect to Iran, how would you approach the situation, and why would your approach be more effective than what you fear is occurring at present?

    Also, would your approach be overly biased with respect to Israel (is that a dumb question?), or would it also consider other Middle Eastern countries that likely agree with general premises on approaches to combating Iran’s nuclear advances?

  5. Vic Rosenthal says:

    Obama has stated his intention to ‘reach out’ to Iran. This can only mean that the US plans to try to control Iran’s behavior with ‘carrots’ rather than ‘sticks’ (as the Bush Administration at least claimed to want to do).

    So what does Iran want? Control of the region and its oil supply and to export its revolutionary Shia Islam. What it will insist upon from the US are concessions that advance these goals. Such would not be good for Israel.

    It’s certainly true that the Egyptian and Saudi regimes, as well as the Emirates, would be happy if Iran did not have a nuclear weapon.

    What would I do? One thing would be to fully support Israel in its struggle with Iranian proxies Hamas, Hezbollah and Syria. The Obama Administration is pushing the nonsense that creating a Palestinian state is a road to peace, but since what will happen is that it will shortly be a Hamas state, the effect will be to weaken Israel and reduce US influence in the region.

    I’ll write this more clearly in a blog post.

  6. ME says:


    After I looked back at archives from one of the links, the one on the X-Band Radar, an article that I had not really paid that much attention to in the past, I noticed a comment by you in an article entitled “Why I still can’t make up my mind,” with a comment date of October 13, 2008, wherein you state that you don’t view the US government as controlling the Israeli government actions per se, but only that the US makes impressionable influence on Israeli government.

    Now, since Obama is in office, you seem to be more convinced that Israel’s bent towards the right is incompatible with a democratic government in America, often, since you deride the Obama administration efforts.

    If you look at foreign policy efforts, in general, the Obama administration is acting, which is more than could be said about other administrations. So, the fact that Iran is being persuaded to communicate with the modern 21st century, instead of hiding behind its so called proxies, is a start.

    Consider your past comments with respect to the influence of American approach on Israel.

  7. ME says:


    Basically, I guess I just get a little irritated at the fact that sometimes, even though a right or moderate right government works in Israel, you sometimes infer that the same is required in America in order for Israel and America to maintain an allied relationship that is compatible.

    That is why, sometimes, political ideologies should not be taken as static in a discourse involving the issue of Iran and its nuclear policy. You even acknowledge, as I continue to suggest, that other Middle Eastern countries can be allies for Israel against any Iranian proliferation. And those countries are anything but liberal in many ways.

  8. Vic Rosenthal says:

    Forget about Left and Right. The Obama administration’s foreign policy team is loaded with people who think America should tilt away from Israel. That’s the problem, nothing to do with Left/Right.

    In fact, this started during the Bush administration in 2006 when the ‘neo-cons’ were replaced by ‘realists’.

  9. ME says:


    When you say realists, I think of legal realism. Maybe if you explain, I will understand better.

    So then the parallel to a realist in legal terms, is a positivist, which does not sound like a neo-con.

    That makes no sense, who is on a foreign policy team? The Department of State operates foreign policy matters in general, so be specific otherwise.

    What started in 2006? Foreign policy tilting away from Israel? Reads like . . . umm hogwash.

  10. Vic Rosenthal says:

    Google “foreign policy realists”. Think of Zbig Brzezinski.

  11. ME says:


    Politics is not really my area of specialty, but I did find something by searching under Foreign Policy “Realism,” from “all of which share a belief that states are primarily motivated by the desire for military and economic power or security, rather than ideals or ethics . . . ”

    Sounds like a cynical and over-generalized definition with respect to foreign policy efforts.

    Military is first and foremost a measure of security and defense. Offensive dictatorships use military power differently than defensive democracies.

    I am not certain that the term is being misapplied or applied out of context. Maybe since you used the term in a previous blog and then only dropped it as a comment in this one, it is inapplicable. Since you do not elaborate, I am going to ignore it.

    Also, I made that chum/feeding frenzy comment attached to the next blog article, sarcastically. I obviously value being able to comment and read this blog.