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Eight Reasons why Containment is not an Option with Iran

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

1. Iran’s regime is outspokenly dedicated to the goal of destroying the State of Israel. Iranian political, religious, and military leaders have expressed their desire to annihilate Israel at every opportunity they have received. Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, says that the physical elimination of Israel is a religious duty. It would be criminally negligent to disregard Iran’s official state ideology and gamble with the lives of millions of Israelis on the unproven assumption that Iran will behave rationally as a nuclear-armed actor. For Israel, the struggle to keep Iran from going nuclear is not about regional influence or ensuring an edge over its enemies. It is about Israel’s Right to Life.

2. The Iranian regime is filled with quarrelling factions that could in the future lead to a destabilization of the government, the military, and the Islamic Republic Guards Corps.

Some factions are influenced by radical Shi’ite ayatollahs such as Mezbah Yazdi, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s spiritual mentor. Yazdi not only says that Israel is the embodiment of evil on Earth, he has also called for the production of nuclear weapons. In any future destabilization of an Iranian regime armed with atomic bombs, a hardline faction could seize control of nuclear missile bases and order an attack. The security of Israel, the region, and the world would be held ransom to the outcome of domestic Iranian power struggles. No country can be expected to accept such a threat

3. Despite all of the above, some commentators continue to insist that facing a nuclear Iran can be compared to the superpower rivalries of the Cold War, which pitted the U.S. and the Soviet Union against one another, and resulted in both sides refraining from resorting to nuclear force, due to the threat of mutually assured destruction (MAD).

The analogy, however, does not work. Ideologically, there is a stark difference between hardline Shi’ite Iranian ideology, which adores the concept of martyrdom, and the secular Soviet ideology, which dismissed with contempt notions of religious war and ideas about divine rewards in the afterlife.

4. Even if we set aside difference in ideology, there are other reasons MAD is not applicable in Iran’s case. Moscow and Washington established lines of direct communications that allowed them to deescalate standoffs. The open channels allowed the superpowers to walk away from the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, thereby sparing the planet from a nuclear holocaust. Jerusalem and Tehran have no direct lines of communication whatsoever, and no way to deescalate future crises, which will surely arise.

5. Iran’s territory is 70 times larger than Israel, a disparity that will form a constant temptation for Iranian leaders to realize their fantasy of destroying Israel. Iranian former president Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani, considered an Iranian “reformist,” formulated this thinking, when he said in 2001: “If a day comes when the world of Islam is duly equipped with the arms Israel has in possession, the… application of an atomic bomb would not leave anything in Israel, but the same thing would just produce damages in the Muslim world.”

With 70% of the Israeli population concentrated in cities on the Mediterranean coastal plain, Iranian leaders face the constant temptation of initiating a nuclear attack based on Rafsanjani’s calculation. Israel has a population of 7.8 million. Iran has a population of 74.8 million.

6. Once Iran breaks through to the nuclear arms stage, it would automatically spark a Middle Eastern arms race, as Iran’s frightened Sunni rivals would rush to get their own atomic bombs. Sunni states suffering from chronic instability, such as Egypt – already under Islamist rule – as well as other Sunni powers such as Turkey and Saudi Arabia would end up armed with nuclear weapons, too.

With the Middle East at its most unstable phase to date (the dissolution of Syria and concerns about its chemical weapons as a case in point), nuclear armed states could experience severe turbulence that would compromise the security of their nuclear arsenals, putting them within reach of fanatical factions or terror organizations.

7. Iran remains the region’s number one state sponsor of terrorism. Operating through its extraterritorial covert elite unit, the Quds Force, Iran provides arms, tends of thousands of deadly rockets, explosives, cash, and logistical support to its Shi’ite proxy Hezbollah, as well as Islamic Jihad in Gaza, and several additional radical non-state actors around the region.

Dershowitz: Obama Must Show Iran He Means Business on Military Option

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

It is now become clear that neither diplomacy nor sanctions will halt the Iranian march toward nuclear weapons. Iran is today stronger diplomatically than it has been in years, as evidenced by the meeting of the nonaligned nations in Tehran. Iran is neither isolated nor alone in a world in which nonaligned nations form a majority at the United Nations.

The sanctions, while hurting the Iranian economy and making life more difficult for the average Iranian, are having zero impact on the Iranian nuclear program, which according to objective intelligence reports, is gathering steam and moving even more quickly toward its ultimate goal of a nuclear weapon that will be a game changer. An Iranian nuclear weapon will end any dream of nonproliferation. It will protect Iran’s surrogate terrorists, such as Hezbollah, under a formidable nuclear umbrella. And it will make an eventual nuclear war more likely. That is why President Obama rightfully took the containment option off the table and put the preventive military option squarely on it.

Although I support President Obama’s policy with regard to the Iranian nuclear threat, I think he must take one further step if the combination of diplomacy and sanctions are ever to work. That step is to communicate to Iran—unequivocally and without any room for misunderstanding—that the Obama Administration will never allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons.

President Obama has already made this point, but not in a way that the Iranians understand and believe. Language matters, and President Obama must now use language that commits him, in the eyes of the Iranians, to keep his promise that he will, if necessary, use military force to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

Only if the Iranians truly believe that they will never be allowed to develop nuclear weapons will the combination of diplomacy and sanctions work. The message has to be this: Look, sanctions hurt. Diplomatic isolation from first world powers is costly. So why incur this pain and cost if you know you will never be able to achieve your goal?

Not only must the Iranians believe that the United States will, as a last resort, use its overwhelming air power to destroy Iran’s nuclear weapons program, but the Israeli leadership must also believe that the Iranians believe it. Only then will Israel forbear from taking preventive self defense actions on its own.

If the Iranians and the Israelis were to believe believe President Obama’s assurances that, as he put it, “I don’t bluff,” there would be a real possibility that Iran would abandon its nuclear weapons program. But even if the mullahs were foolishly to challenge the United States, and continue with the weapons program, the Israelis would have an enhanced degree of confidence that Obama would keep his word and stop Iran before it reached its deadly goal.

Right now, despite President Obama’s best efforts, neither the Iranians nor the Israelis are sufficiently confident that he would carry out his threat. They know that there are those within the administration and among President Obama’s supporters who will discourage him from making an unequivocal statement or carrying out a threat, because they believe that sanctions and diplomacy alone will work, without the need for “saber rattling.” There are also those who prefer a policy of containment to the threat of military action. The Iranians are aware of this faction and are counting on them to prevail, if it comes down to a choice between allowing Iran to develop nuclear weapons and stopping them by military action. President Obama must make it clear that he has rejected this view and that he will employ military action if that is the only option other than a nuclear Iran.

This is not a debate between peaceniks and warmongers. Every Israeli and American that I know wants peace. Everyone would love to see Iran stop developing nuclear weapons without a rocket being fired or a bomb being dropped. The dispute is about tactics and strategy. President Obama believes that the best way to avoid having to use the military option is to make Iran understand that he will in fact use it as a last alternative to Iran developing the bomb. Those on the other side of this debate believe that making such an unequivocal threat would constitute saber rattling, and that such rattling actually decreases the chance for a peaceful resolution of this difficult issues.

President Obama is right and those who are opposed to his rattling some sabers are wrong. So let President Obama look the mullahs in the eye and persuade them that they simply do not have the option of developing nuclear weapons. The only two options they have are to stop or be stopped. Only if they believe this, is there any realistic likelihood that they will stop.

Originally published by the Gatestone Institute

From Canada, Netanyahu ‘appreciates’ Obama’s Promises on Iran

Monday, March 5th, 2012

Canada.com reports that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that he “appreciated” President Barack Obama’s statements on Iran and was looking forward to discussing them when he arrives in Washington Monday.

“I very much appreciated that President Obama reiterated his position that Iran must not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons and that all options are on the table,” Netanyahu said.

Natanyahu said he also appreciated the fact that Obama “made clear that when it comes to a nuclear-armed Iran, containment is simply not an option. And equally, perhaps in my judgment most important of all, I appreciated the fact that he said that Israel must be able to defend itself, by itself, against any threat.”

Netanyahu spoke at a private reception with Canadian Jewish leaders in Ottawa Sunday, the last day on his three-day visit to Canada.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/from-canada-netanyahu-appreciates-obamas-promises-on-iran/2012/03/05/

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