web analytics
April 27, 2015 / 8 Iyar, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


What A Surprise! Diplomatic Sanctions Won’t Work For Iran


Beres-Louis-Rene

One would think, certainly by now, that foolish optimism about Iran should have been swept completely away. One would now assume, with altogether good reason, that Iran has absolutely no intention of abandoning its nuclear program, and that it does not display markedly genocidal stripes only for Islamic public consumption. Rather, it should now be evident to anyone who can read or watch the TV news that Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad fully intends to become a regional superpower, and that he plans to do this on the vaporized collective corpse of the exterminated Jewish state.

So, we might ask as Jews, “What else is new?” At the same time, we do need to inquire seriously: “What is to be done?” There is, of course, no easy answer to the question of ongoing Iranian nuclearization. All remedial options are manifestly unattractive, and all will have substantial costs. Oddly enough, diplomacy still seems to be the preferred path to crisis resolution, but only because polite conversation and empty threats will seemingly protect all parties from assorted political risks.

In the matter of Iran’s ambitious and genocidal program for nuclear weapons, further diplomacy has absolutely no chance of success. None at all. No UN sanctions will have any effect on the pace and substance of Tehran’s illegal operations. Whether we like it or not, unless there is a near-term defensive first-strike at pertinent elements of Iran’s expanding nuclear infrastructures, that country will become a member of the nuclear club.

Such membership would pose a genuinely existential hazard, especially to Israel. A nuclear Iran would not resemble any other extant nuclear power, and there could be no stable “balance of terror” involving that martyr-frenzied Islamic republic. Unlike the Cold War, which was always governed by mutual assumptions of rationality, a world with a nuclear-armed Iran could explode at any moment into apocalyptic chaos. Although it is possible to suggest a postponement of preemption until Iran was more openly nuclear, the collateral consequences of any such delayed self-defense could be staggering.

The very idea of an apocalypse was born in ancient Persia. There, the Zoroastrians first conceived of a stark polarity between Good and Evil, between Light and Dark. Their dualistic faith was called Manicheanism. Precisely how this faith ultimately found its way into contemporary Islamic eschatology, and into certain Islamic expectations of a cataclysmic war to bring forth the missing 12th Imam, is a question for further scholarly examination. But for now, all that we really need to know is that Iran’s leadership genuinely believes in the coming of the Mahdi, the Islamic redeemer, and that a total war against “The Jews” would meet all pertinent criteria of their own scriptural prophesy.

So, in the best-of-all-possible worlds, diplomatic settlement with Iran could still be taken seriously, and military solutions would be happily out of place. But we surely don’t live in such a world, and we now have little choice but to compare the costs of prompt preemptive action against Iran with the costs of both: 1. inaction; and 2. delayed military action. Here it would be apparent that all available options are going to be costly, and that putting our heads back in the sand will only make us blind.

Iran’s president maintains that his country’s nuclear program is intended only to produce electricity, but there is no reasonable argument or evidence to support this disingenuous statement. Ahmadinejad blames Israel for war and terror in the Middle East, but it is Iran that calls for “wiping Israel off the map.” From the standpoint of codified international law, this call is more than an expression of exceptionally bad manners. As I have made clear in some of my earlier columns here in The Jewish Press, it is also an egregious violation of the Genocide Convention of 1948. For its part, Israel has never threatened any other state with nuclear weapons, and – indeed – does not acknowledge that any such weapons even exist.

Iran must be stopped immediately from acquiring atomic arms, and this can only be accomplished through anticipatory self-defense. An appropriately precise set of defensive attacks against Iran’s nuclear assets could be distinctly legal. Contrary to the conventional wisdom, authorization for preemptive action against Iran would not have to come from a collective decision by the UN Security Council. At this point, the United States and/or Israel could choose to act on behalf of the entire international community, and could do so lawfully without wider approvals.

The right of self-defense by forestalling an attack appears in Hugo Grotius’ classic, The Law Of War And Peace (1625). Recognizing the need for protection against “present danger” and threatening behavior that is imminent, Grotius – who was influenced by the Torah − indicates that self-defense is permitted not only after an attack has already been suffered, but also in advance, “where the deed may be anticipated.” Continues Grotius: “It be lawful to kill him who is preparing to kill.”

Emmerich de Vattel takes a similar position in his The Law Of Nations (1758). Here, he argues that it is lawful to resist and even to anticipate attacks by other nations so long as aggression is truly forthcoming: “The safest plan,” says Vattel, “is to prevent evil, where that is possible. A Nation has the right to resist the injury another seeks to inflict upon it, and to use force and every other just means of resistance against the aggressor.”

Some current scholars will argue that the specific language of Article 51 of the UN Charter overrides the customary right of anticipatory self-defense. In this view, Article 51, which speaks of self-defense only after an armed attack has already been absorbed, fashions a more restrictive statement of self-defense. This narrow interpretation ignores that international law is not a suicide pact. When Israel launched a successful preemptive strike against the Iraqi Osiraq nuclear reactor on June 7, 1981 (“Operation Opera”), neither the UN Security Council nor the General Assembly censured the attack.

There is little time left to deal with Iran. In fact, the operational success of any essential preemption against Iranian military targets is already in doubt. To make matters worse, any action against Iran would likely entail large numbers of civilian casualties. This is because of the Iranian policy of deliberately placing military assets in the midst of civilian populations – a policy called “perfidy” under international law. Still, further postponements will only multiply the number of casualties from any future preemption, or – in the worst-case scenario – permit Iran to become fully nuclear. In that eventuality, Israel could face the unimaginable post-Holocaust prospect of literally millions of prompt fatalities.

Copyright The Jewish Press, March 30, 2007. All rights reserved.

LOUIS RENE BERES was educated at Princeton (Ph.D., 1971). Professor of International Law at Purdue, he is the author of many books and articles on nuclear strategy and nuclear war, and is Chair of “Project Daniel.” Professor Beres is Strategic and Military Affairs columnist for The Jewish Press.

About the Author: Louis René Beres (Ph.D., Princeton, 1971) is professor of political science and international law at Purdue University and the author of many books and articles dealing with international relations and strategic studies.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “What A Surprise! Diplomatic Sanctions Won’t Work For Iran”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
This is what is left of the bus that was firebombed Saturday night.
Shhhhhhh! Police Now Say Bus was Firebombed Saturday Night
Latest Indepth Stories
World Zionist Congress elections end April 30.

Groups promoting anti-Israel/anti-Jewish BDS right on their websites are running in the WZC election

Former New York Governor George Pataki

Pataki is the last Republican Governor to win a majority of Jewish votes.

President Obama

Obama’s desire to be “fair” enables Iran to get nuclear weapons which will threaten global security

israeli-american flags

All GOP candidates will continue seeking – and praying – for Jewish money with greater success.

The one reason to make Aliyah outweighs all the arguments not to move to Israel.

“We returned to this Land not in order to be murdered, or uprooted. We came here to be replanted!”

I don’t fear for the future of our people because I believe Yeshiva University has created an “Iron Dome” of Jewish leadership

Poland’s great Jewish cities where Jewish life had once flourished and thrived, were now desolate

Chief rabbi, Rav Dovid Lau, stated that the Torah community’s turnout in the WZO election is vital.

Iran has at its core the same ideology as that of ISIS but, inaccurately, is thought a lesser threat

An early Yom Ha’atzmaut gathering for Israel’s 67th birthday with Pres. Rivlin of Israel and guests

Israel’s Memorial Day shouldn’t be a day of mourning, it’s a day to honor, not another Holocaust Day

God’s 3 part promise for Israel: to the Avot; a plentiful land; the eventual return home by all Jews

A committed Religious Zionist, he was a sought-after adviser on Zionist affairs around the world.

More important, Mr. Obama is simply acceding to Iran’s position on the timing of the lifting of sanctions.

More Articles from Louis Rene Beres

A “Palestine” could become another Lebanon, with many different factions battling for control.

Louis Rene Beres

President Obama’s core argument on a Middle East peace process is still founded on incorrect assumptions.

Once upon a time in America, every adult could recite at least some Spenglerian theory of decline.

President Obama’s core argument is still founded on incorrect assumptions.

Specific strategic lessons from the Bar Kokhba rebellion.

Still facing an effectively unhindered nuclear threat from Iran, Israel will soon need to choose between two strategic options.

For states, as for individuals, fear and reality go together naturally.

So much of the struggle between Israel and the Arabs continues to concern space.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/louis-bene-beres/what-a-surprise-diplomatic-sanctions-wont-work-for-iran/2007/03/28/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: