More bad ideas on Iran

The quantity of “information” in the Israeli and US media regarding Iran’s nuclear project and possible action against it is enormous. It includes deliberate disinformation, propaganda intended to discredit the Israeli PM (always a goal of the Israeli Left), uninformed speculation, and — like the publication by mainstream outlets including the BBC of total nonsense provided by anti-Israel blogger Richard Silverstein — sheer journalistic incompetence.

Some of it comes from what might be reasonable sources, but doesn’t make a lick of sense. Take this, reported in today’s NY Times:

JERUSALEM — A former Israeli national security adviser said Wednesday that the prime minister and the defense minister told him this week they had not yet decided to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities and could be dissuaded from a strike if President Obama approved stricter sanctions and publicly confirmed his willingness to use military force.

“There is a window of opportunity,” said the official, Uzi Dayan, a former deputy chief of staff in the military. “This window is closing, but if the United States would be much clearer and stronger about the sanctions on one hand and about what can happen if Iran won’t make a U-turn — there is not a lot of time, but there is still time to make a difference.” …

While Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Barak have been criticized as “messianic” in their thinking on the Iranian nuclear issue and are widely viewed as ready, if not eager, to take military action to stop it, Mr. Dayan said they would prefer that the United States led any attack, even if that meant waiting until after the November presidential election. But “they have to make the decision whether to strike or not before November,” he said, so they need to hear from Mr. Obama “in the coming two weeks, in the coming month.”

In other words, Dayan is suggesting that if President Obama will increase sanctions (which is not entirely in his hands and which won’t work anyway) and promise to use force after the election if Iran doesn’t “make a U-turn,” then Israel will hold off.

I’ve already discussed at length why sanctions will not cause Iran to dismantle its program. So we are talking, essentially, about a promise to use force. Can Israel depend on such a promise? Even if Barack Obama were the most pro-Israel president in history (and in fact he is the opposite), there are external forces that could make it impossible to keep it. For example, suppose he is not reelected. Could a lame duck President initiate military action (it would be called ‘starting a war’) on behalf of another country?

Not only that, there is the question of what constitutes a “U-turn.” Israel has said that it cannot tolerate Iran having a ‘nuclear capability’ while the US has said that its red line is something like a decision to build a weapon. Would the US accept Israel’s definition? Even if it did, what if US intelligence on Iranian progress doesn’t agree with Israel’s?

Taking all this into account, would Bibi, the son of Benzion Netanyahu, abandon a cornerstone of Israel’s strategic doctrine and place the defense of Israel, against what he assuredly believes to be an existential threat, in the hands of the US — the US which has broken promises to Israel  before, even with friendlier presidents?

I don’t think so.

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3 Responses to “More bad ideas on Iran”

  1. Shalom Freedman says:

    As I understand it many of those who oppose the attack do so precisely because they feel it would undermine Israel’s security. There after all is an argument to be made for the attack’s leading to a prolonged war in which Israel has to face alone a large number of opponents. There is even the possibility that in such a war , warring Shiite and Sunnite forces would halt their fighting and unite against their common enemy. Saudi Arabia Turkey Egypt all would be very happy to have an opportunity to contribute to Israel’s destruction.
    An attack would almost certainly undermine Israel’s present relative prosperity. It would , if the missiles fall , create kinds of difficulties and test that Israelis have not had to face in a long time. You may forgive me here if I have the feeling that the Israeli public of thirty or some years ago was a public more able to stand under stress and pressure than the more spoiled and prosperous one we have today.
    Israel would be regarded as the aggressor in such an attack and this would mean its ‘isolation’ even with U.S. friendship remaining firm.
    I don’t know the answer here. I do know that it is not however a question of choosing between an action which will definitely remove the Iranian threat , enhance Israel’s security and between choosing a path of appeasement which will mean Israel under perpetual nuclear threat.
    One reason I would hesitate to rush to attack is because so many of the negative consequences definitely will come about.

  2. Shalom Freedman says:

    Excuse me here for being guilty of the sin of ‘over- commenting’. However I am extremely conflicted and mixed-up on this issue and not happy with my previous comment. The more I hear the negative political voices like Lipkin- Shahak who spouted off to ‘Meet the Press’ in the U.S. the more I tend to think the opposition to the ‘operation’ is primarily political. The more I hear the Iranians threatening our destruction the more I sense the operation necessary. The more I hear reports, however probably fabricated, about the kinds of technological surprises we have to flatten the Iranians the more I tend in the direction of doing the operation.
    So I am divided and uncertain about what it is right for us to do.

  3. Vic Rosenthal says:

    I agree that much of the opposition is political. I think that all of the ex-officials and others should just shut up at this point and allow the PM to deal with the very touchy situation he — the country — is in, caught between Iran and the US.
    Bibi has the support of the majority of Israelis, at least on security questions, and the politicians are making his job harder.
    As far as the academics who want Air Force pilots to refuse orders: isn’t there an Arab country they can move to?