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March 29, 2015 / 9 Nisan, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘nuclear’

Truth and Evil Dance on Mandela’s Grave

Monday, December 9th, 2013

It is a necessary but sad evil when leaders like President Shimon Peres and Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas have to cry over Nelson Mandela’s death even though both leaders, in their own ways, exploited or ignored him for their own causes, however justified in their own eyes.

Abbas and Peres should not be mentioned in the same breath, but the truth is that both are masters of manipulation whose mourning for Mandela to a certain extent is a mask for an uglier truth.

Abbas undoubtedly has proven himself to be a chess master par excellence in the diplomatic field, convincing virtually the entire world that the Palestinian Authority is some poor, hapless victim of apartheid and not a regime that was born out of terror and breathes and lives on the threat to kill Jews.

Abbas also is just another hapless Arab whose definition of helping his constituents is to create the right conditions for the destruction of Israel as Jewish state. For this, he rewrote the history of Mandela’s support for the Palestinian Authority as a country but on condition that Israel remain secure.

President Peres has turned his constant failure to be elected Prime Minister in his own right into a worldwide success as the Preacher of Peace and the naïve if not foolish pawn of anti-Zionists who have played on his vanity and weighed him down with every decoration and medal on earth so long as he keeps playing “nice Jew.”

So what if Jonathan Pollard still is in jail? Peres perhaps figures that his being awarded the Freedom Medal by President Barack Obama gives him more leverage to win Pollard’s freedom, just like he was sure that expelling Jews and pulling the IDF out of Gaza would guarantee peace and quiet for Israel.

But to Peres’ eternal credit, he also led the secret and not-so-secret effort to make Israel an undeclared nuclear power.

As a man of peace, it is only natural that Peres eulogize Mandela, who is not around to remind Peres that while the president was carrying out his duty to Israel to help its nuclear development, he did so while Mandela was suffering in his prison cell.

Abbas has served his cause faithfully, regardless of it being based on some of the biggest lies since Hitler and the Holocaust, which Abbas honored in his doctoral thesis that the Shoah really didn’t happen.

In short, yes, Abbas is a liar and a louse, but he is masterful at it.

He hailed Mandela as  a “symbol of freedom from colonialism and occupation,” whose death “is a great loss for all the peoples of the world, and for Palestine.”

Even Hamas chipped in and called Mandela “one of the most important symbols of freedom and one of the most important supporters of the Palestinian people’s cause.”

Using the African apartheid to describe the Israeli “occupation” and security fence along Judea and Samaria is one of those gross and obscene propaganda tactics that historians will correct at some time in the future, on the assumption that “the truth will out.”

For anyone writing history now, refer to Mandela’s tour of the Middle East in 1999.

He indeed supported the idea of a Palestinian Authority state and that “talk of peace remains hollow if Israel continues to occupy Arab lands, but he said in the same breath, “I cannot conceive of Israel withdrawing if Arab states do not recognize Israel, within secure borders.”

He made no mention of the “Green Line” or the 1949 “Temporary Armistice Lines.”

Mandela, like Peres, viewed the world through his own dreams and experiences, no matter how foreign from the Middle East. He saw Israel as practicing apartheid, and he also viewed Iran as a country that has no evil intentions towards Israel.

So much for his prowess in world affairs outside South Africa.

Lots of people kissed Mandela. One of them was Yasser Arafat. Comparing the two men as freedom-fighters is something out of a science fiction horror movie, and historians will have a hard time justifying that equation.

Another man who kissed Mandela was Peres.

“The world has lost a great leader who changed the face of history,” said Peres. “Nelson Mandela was a human rights fighter who made his mark on the war against discrimination and racism.”

The Israeli president said the right words at the right time in the name of the country. For all of Peres’ illusions, historians might remember him not so much for his peace preaching as for his leading Israel into the nuclear era.

Peres must be praised and complimented, but his contribution towards helping Israel be able to defend itself against even the worst imagineable threat does not remove the warts.

NBC News investigative journalist Robert Windrem reported Sunday that in the 1970s, while Mandela “was languishing in a damp prison cell on Robben Island, Peres was making deals with South Africa’s apartheid regime to trade missiles for money and the uranium needed for atomic bombs.”

Peres was defense minister at the time, and Yitzchak Rabin was Prime Minister. An agreement was made, according to NBC, to help South Africa carry out a propaganda campaign to brighten its image. South Africa paid handsomely for Israel’s help, and the close relationship between the two countries flourished to the point that they cooperated on military and nuclear development.

One of the key players in convincing South Africa to enter the agreement was a man names Eshel Rhoodie, according to NBC, which based its report on interviews and documents, including a book based on Israeli and South African government documents.

Another key person was Arnon Milchan, a Hollywood billionaire who two weeks ago confided that he was instrumental in helping Peres to advance Israel’s nuclear development.

“Israel certainly developed its own nuclear weapons, apparently with the help of South Africa” NBC reported. “Rhoodie and another high-ranking South African official told NBC of an arrangement between the two countries in the late 1970s in which South Africa supplied 600 tons of uranium to Israel in return for 30 grams of tritium, used to detonate nuclear weapons. The uranium was codenamed ‘mutton,’ the tritium ‘tea leaves and the overall exchange was called ‘Project Mint.’”

Peres was far from trying to back Mandela’s fight against apartheid. Rightfully putting Israel’s security above everything, the Israeli government provided the apartheid regime with Jericho missiles or at least Jericho technology.

This is known from computer imagery from U.S. spy satellites that tracked a missile launch east of Cape Town and discovered the images to be identical to Israel’s launch of the Jericho. With the Jericho, the South Africa regime was in a better position to win leverage in the region.

Mandela became president of South Africa in 1994, when relations with Israel were poor, to say the least.

A book in 2010 included previous nuclear sharing between South Africa and Israel, claims which Peres denied, although Milchan’s comments two weeks ago categorically state otherwise.

“I did it for my country and I’m proud of it,” Milchan said.

Peres cannot dare tell the truth. That is the price he has to pay for having been loyal to Israel’s security needs.

Abbas also cannot tell the truth about Mandela’s clarification of his support for a Palestinian Authority state. That is the price he pays for being loyal to the Arab religion of hate.

Mandela’s legacy can live without any reminders from Abbas and Peres, but both played their parts masterfully.

Dershowitz: Iran Deal Could Be ‘Cataclysmic Error’​

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

Harvard Law School professor and vocal Israel supporter Alan Dershowitz said the deal reached in Geneva under which Iran promised to stop uranium enrichment beyond 5 percent in exchange for $7 billion in sanctions relief “could turn out to be a cataclysmic error of gigantic proportions.”

“It could also turn out to be successful, to be the beginning of a negotiated resolution,” Dershowitz told Newsmax.,” but I think the likelihood of it being the former is considerably greater.”

Dershowitz believes the Obama Administration has only a 10 percent chance of changing the Iranian leadership’s attitude on its nuclear program.

“When you weigh that against the 30 or 40 percent chance that they’re dead wrong—nuclear bomb wrong—then it’s a very bad assessment of risk and benefits,” he said.

Israel Warns US: Iran Building ICBMs for YOU, Not for Us

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

Israel is openly opposed to the nuclear weapons deal the United States seems dead set on consummating with Iran.  The goal of that deal is the easing of international sanctions on Iran in exchange for Iran taking limited steps suggesting a possible shift away from its goal of acquiring nuclear weapons.

The disagreement between the U.S. and Israel about the wisdom of this deal has become what many are calling a significant strain between the two allies.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned against the deal last week, calling it “a bad deal, a very, very bad deal,” and Israel remains steadfastly opposed. In turn, Secretary of State Kerry was quoted by senators as having told them to “ignore” what the Israelis were telling members of congress about the potential consequences of the deal.

Tuesday evening, Nov. 19, Israeli government spokesperson Mark Regev told CNN’s Jake Tapper that it isn’t just Israel in Iran’s cross-hairs, but it is the U.S. itself that is an intended target of Iran’s nuclear weapon.

The interview began with Tapper quoting the Iranians who said that Israel is “trying to torpedo the agreement.”

Regev explained that Israel is certainly not opposed to an agreement that will end Iran’s rush towards nuclear weapons. But, he explained, what Israel wants is a good agreement.

Regev suggested that the alternatives aren’t between coming to an agreement and going to war.  To illustrate, he offered the nuclear weapons agreement with North Korea that was entered into by the global community with great fanfare and celebration, but which turned out to be a very bad deal, as everyone learned.

North Korea, after having “shaken hands” on an agreement that barred it from developing nuclear weapons, within a year had not only developed those weapons, but exploded one. That was a spectacular display of what happens when a hopeful but naive global community places its trust in an inherently untrustworthy partner.

Israel’s goal is one Regev described as an agreement that actually, effectively, dismantles Iran’s nuclear weapons program, in contrast to the far more limited results the U.S. is seeking at this stage.

“Look, you can have an honest difference on what the estimates are,” Regev told Tapper, but the difference is not only about amounts, the difference is in direction.  And Israel fundamentally disagrees with the U.S. view of the equation.

The U.S. view is that “the Iranians take small steps and then the international community, in parallel, takes small steps, to encourage them to move in the right direction.”

“The trouble with that equation is that it’s based on a falsehood,” because, Regev stated the Israeli understanding, it is simply not true that the Iranians are taking steps in the right direction.

And here’s the fundamental distinction: “All that we’ve seen, all the information that we have is that the Iranians are taking only cosmetic measures that in no way undermines their goal of having a nuclear weapon.

“They’re not willing to take any serious step. Not to dismantle a single centrifuge.”

That’s not just a difference in degree, it’s a difference in kind.  It isn’t a question of how much, it is a question of “at all.”

The other significant concern which Regev touched on was that any easing of sanctions will actually lead to a complete collapse of the pressure on the Iranian economy, and therefore will mean there will be no pressure on Iran to even make the minor adjustments it has finally offered at this late stage.

But the really big news, the news that the Israeli government clearly wanted the American people to hear, is the direct consequences for Americans sitting in their homes in New York and Boston and Los Angeles and Houston.

This was the “okay, Washington, you may be willing to bet Iran won’t attack Americans in their homes, but the American people may feel a bit differently about that” approach.

Regev’s delivery and timing was perfect:

I mean, the Iranians are building intercontinental ballistic missiles. They’re not building them for us, they’ve already got missiles that can reach Israel.  They’re building them for you! For targets in North America and Western Europe. It’s crucial that we don’t allow them to get nuclear weapons.

The interview ended with Tapper trying to get Regev to comment about the strain between the two nations, but Regev was not interested in that line of questioning.  Instead, he ended the interview reminding the (American) audience that “Israel is directly affected by this.  This is for us a core issue in our national security.”

Regev’s mission for this interview was to present the idea that it isn’t just Israelis in Tel Aviv and Haifa who need to worry about Iran having nuclear weapons.  His message was that Americans need to see the problem of Iran becoming a country with nuclear weapons, one with its ICBMs pointed at the U.S., as a core issue for their national security.

Guardian’s Cartoon of Powerful Jews Manipulating Western Leaders

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

Last November we posted about a political cartoon at the Guardian by Steve Bell depicting British foreign minister William Hague and Tony Blair as puppets being controlled by Binyamin Netanyahu, in the context of expressions of support by these leaders during the war in Gaza.  Bell’s image evoked the canard of powerful Jews controlling western politicians for their own nefarious purposes and was hauntingly similar to more explicitly antisemitic cartoons routinely found in Arab and Islamist world.

The Guardian’s readers’ editor, Chris Elliott, addressed the row a couple of weeks later, and actually rebuked Bell for ‘unintentionally’ using the visual language of antisemitic stereotypes.

While such cartoons often have more of an immediate impact in reinforcing negative stereotypes about Jews than lengthy essays, the damage done by such toxic ideas regarding ‘Jewish control’, in any form, should be taken seriously.  The Guardian narrative of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, in news reports and commentaries, often includes passages with the unmistakable  suggestion that Israel (and the pro-Israeli lobby) wields enormous power over ineffectual Western leaders – a theme present in a report by Harriet Sherwood and Julian Borger titled ‘Iran nuclear programme deal in danger of unravelling’, Nov. 11.  The story centered on nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1 (the permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany) which ultimately unraveled largely due to concerns that the agreement would have eased sanctions on Iran without requiring that it cease enriching uranium.

The report by Sherwood and Borger included the following:

In a bid to contain the danger, the lead US negotiator, Wendy Sherman, flew straight from the talks in Geneva to Israel to reassure Binyamin Netanyahu’s government that the intended deal would not harm his country’s national interests.

The hastily arranged trip represented an acknowledgement of Netanyahu’s power to block a deal through his influence in the US Congress and in Europe. Egged on by the Israelis, the US Senate is poised to pass new sanctions that threaten to derail the talks before they get to their planned next round in 10 days’ time.

More immediately, Netanyahu demonstrated over the weekend that he could sway the Geneva talks from the inside through his relationship with Paris.

These passages of course strongly suggest that US congressional leaders take their marching orders from Jerusalem and that the French government’s position was not motivated by what it saw as its own national interests but, rather, as a result of the influence of the Israeli prime minister.

However, the deal was fatally flawed, according to many experts, due in part because it would have fallen short of the requirements in six resolutions adopted by the UN Security Council over the years which called on Iran to suspend ALL uranium enrichment – resolutions passed under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, rendering them binding under international law.

As Adam Chandler observed in an essay published at Tablet about the superficial analysis by Sherwood and Borger:

[Their argument] smacks of that paranoid, evergreen charge that all wars and international campaigns are waged on behalf of Israel, a claim that devolves from Israel into “the Jews” as it goes through portal after conspiratorial portal.

You don’t even need to believe that antisemitism is at play to nonetheless be contemptuous of the extraordinary myopia displayed in the Guardian report.  As Walter Russell Mead observed recently about the broader intellectual dynamic which unites antisemitism with anti-Zionism:

Weak minds…are easily seduced by attractive but empty generalizations. The comment attributed to August Bebel that anti-Semitism is the socialism of fools can be extended to many other kinds of cheap and superficial errors that people make. The baffled, frustrated and the bewildered seek a grand, simplifying hypothesis that can bring some kind of ordered explanation to a confusing world.

Guardian “journalists” may fancy themselves sophisticated, erudite and worldly, but their frequent ‘Zionist root cause’ explanations betray both their ideological bias and the extraordinarily facile nature of their reasoning.

Visit CIFWatch.

Israel: the Impudence Accompanying Betrayal

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

I’ve always been amazed that anyone thought the United States would ever act against the Iranian nuclear threat. There was never any chance that such a thing would happen. The United States would never go to war with tens of millions of people.

Moreover, there was never any chance the United States would let Israel “attack” Iran.

In a Huffington Post article by Steven Strauss, the author quotes Netanyahu:

“‘I believe that we can now say that Israel has reached childhood’s end, that it has matured enough to begin approaching a state of self-reliance… We are going to achieve economic independence [from the United States].’ Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to a Joint Session of the United States Congress – Washington D.C., July 10, 1996 (Source: Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs).”

Unfortunately, today, almost 20 years later, this is not a fair statement to quote. Strauss continues: “In 1997, Israel received $3.1 billion in aid from the U.S. In 2012, Israel was still receiving $3.1 billion annually in U.S. aid.”

This, however, is not an appropriate comparison today. Let us look at the current situation: Egypt will receive $2 billion in U.S. aid; Saudi Arabia will receive military aid as well as the anti-Asad Syrian rebels; Turkey will receive billions of dollars and probably military equipment. Moreover, the United States and Europe will also reach out to Iran, and Hizballah and Syria will receive aid from Iran. In addition, the Palestinians have not made the least bit of commitment on a two-state solution. In other words, only Israel would lose. And this is the childhood’s end?

Strauss further notes, “Israel has become an affluent and developed country that can afford to pay for its own defense.” But the point is that other hostile countries will be receiving more while Israel will get the same amount.

He continues, “… Israel has a well developed economy in other ways.” But again, Israel will be placed at much more of a disadvantage.

The article’s claim, “Other countries/programs could better use this aid money,” does not state the reality.

“Even domestically, the aid that goes to Israel could be useful. Detroit is bankrupt, and our Congress is cutting back on food stamps, and making other painful budget cuts.” Again, the United States does not face an immediate threat from its neighbors, while Israel does. Moreover, this is shockingly implying that Israel is stealing money from poor people in the United States.

In other words, this is not equivalent.

“Israel and the United States have increasingly different visions about the future of the Middle East.” But again, so what? This is absolutely irrelevant.

“A major (bipartisan) goal of the United States has been the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” Once again, this is a policy that is impossible, but the United States is going to try to force it on Israel anyway.

Note that the less security the United States and the West provide to Israel, the more difficult it makes it to secure or promote a desirable two-state solution. Strauss adds, “However, the current Israeli government is clearly not committed to the U.S. vision, and has done everything possible to sabotage American efforts.”

The problem with this last point is that the Palestinians have always tried to sabotage this. If this concept hasn’t gotten across in a quarter century, I can’t imagine when it will get across.

The current Israeli government has tried for many years to achieve a two-state solution and has made many concessions. And if Kerry can’t take Israel’s side on this issue, then I can’t imagine how decades of U.S. policy has been carried out. To say that the Israeli government is not committed is a fully hostile statement.

This claims Israeli settlement and not Palestinian intransigence has blocked the peace process.

Note that the author of this article has “distinguished” credentials: “Steven Strauss is an adjunct lecturer in public policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.”

Yet if this is what the U.S. government understands, it will end badly. Moreover, the issue of Iran and nuclear weapons is not the important point; rather, it is the transformation of the U.S. Middle East position that is significant. I do not believe there is any chance Iran will use nuclear weapons. The problem is that this is reversal of the U.S. policy. In other words, it is like going back to 1948 and opposing partition.

Finally, what this is all about is money and greed. Many European countries are drooling about the money to be made. For example, Vittorio Da Rold writes (Il Sole 24 ore), “Italian SMEs are hoping for a rapid agreement on the Iranian nuclear issue in order to return as soon as possible to trade without limits with Tehran and the rich Iranian market in hopes of finding new markets in a time when the European market flirts with deflation.”

Bibi and Obama Growing Apart on Iran while Rouhani Is All Smiles

Monday, October 21st, 2013

The Associated Press reported that Israel and the U.S. have been growing apart on the Iran nuclear threat, so much so that there appears to be a rift between them these days. Essentially, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues to sound the alarm tirelessly and at a high pitch, while the West sees genuine Iranian compromises in the Geneva talks.

The different views are only growing more so, threatening to leave Israel in isolation, as the talks between six global powers and Iran appear to be gaining steam, the AP surmises. western negotiators were upbeat after last week’s talks, going into the next round of negotiations, Nov. 7.

If you wanted a Munich moment – this is it, with the Czech ambassador sitting nervously in the waiting room while the British and French prime ministers and the Axis brutes decided his country’s fate.

Most references to the Munich moment usually show PM Neville Chamberlain waving a piece of paper and announcing "peace in our time." But the really scary Munich moment took place hours earlier, when these dubious characters signed on to the deal. It was about the West's willingness to knowingly embrace the lies of the thugs it was dealing with, leaving Czechoslovakia to pick up the tab. From left to right, Chamberlain, French PM Daladier, Hitler, Mussolini and Italian Foreign Minister Count.

Most references to the Munich moment usually show PM Neville Chamberlain waving a piece of paper and announcing “peace in our time.” But the really scary Munich moment took place hours earlier, when these dubious characters signed on to the deal. It was about the West’s willingness to knowingly embrace the lies of the thugs it was dealing with, leaving Czechoslovakia to pick up the tab. From left to right, Chamberlain, French PM Daladier, Hitler, Mussolini and Italian Foreign Minister Count.

In fact, the louder Netanyahu cries out, the more shrill he is bound to sound in the face of the smiling Iranian president Hassan Rouhani.

“I think that in this situation as long as we do not see actions instead of words, the international pressure must continue to be applied and even increased,” Netanyahu told his Cabinet on Sunday. “The greater the pressure, the greater the chance that there will be a genuine dismantling of the Iranian military nuclear program.”

The statement may reflect more how out of touch Bibi is with the winds blowing in Washington DC right now, than a practical strategy. Over the weekend, U.S. officials said the White House was going to offer Iran a chance to recoup billions of dollars in frozen assets—sitting there since the 1979 Islamic revolution—if it scales back its nuclear program. The sanctions will stay in place for now, but Iran would suddenly receive a windfall.

In other words, Iran will receive between $50 and $75 billion, tax free, not for eliminating its nuclear weapons program, but for merely slowing it down.

This is vintage Rouhani, incidentally – the man was the architect of Iran’s winning strategy of fooling the world while flashing many winning smiles. One gets the feeling the Rouhanis wanted their boy to go into modeling for toothpaste ads, instead of running one of the three most evil regimes on the planet, but one thing led to another.

Speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said it was “premature” to talk about easing sanctions, but he did not endorse Netanyahu’s tough line, saying the U.S. is planning a more “incremental” approach in response to concrete Iranian gestures.

It’s 2005 revisited, and Rouhani knows he’s already won this round. He managed to separate Netanyahu from his American benefactors, and isolate Israel which now looks like it’s frothing at the mouth while Iran is all pleasantries and pragmatism. All he has to do from this point on is keep talking, host a couple UN inspectors, mess with their inspections a little, nothing serious, make it impossible to get a real read of what goes on in those plants – but keep on smiling, denying, and never say anything hostile or aggressive against israel or the West.

Bibi cannot win this one, any more than Czechoslovakia could win the diplomatic war against Hitler. Few people know today that on paper the Czechs were superior militarily to the Germans. If they had decided to strike against the Germans, they could have altered world history. They didn’t need British or French protection, they were completely self sufficient in manufacturing their military arsenal. Indeed, it was his bloodless conquest of Czechoslovakia that turned Hitler unstoppable.

Iran: Neither Lunatic State Nor Rational Actor, But Rational Aggressor

Monday, October 7th, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

The United States now estimates it will take one year for Iran to get nuclear weapons; Israel says some months.

Is Iran a Lunatic State or a Rational Actor? It is neither; it is a Rational Aggressor.

“One of the great unresolved questions of Barack Obama’s presidency,” says Time Magazine, “is whether he can peacefully resolve  America’s conflict with Iran over its nuclear weapons’  program.

Ridiculously wrong.
 
One of the great unresolved questions of Barack Obama’s presidency is whether he can successfully resolve America’s conflict with Iran over its nuclear weapons’ program.

Time continues that the Obama-Rouhani handshake “would  be the most important…handshake since the historic grip between Rabin and Arafat….””

Also wrong. Remember that while it has still not been admitted by the United States, that event 20! years later was a failure costly in lives. Israel must satisfy seemingly monthly American demands by releasing terrorists who murdered Israelis.

The handshakes of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain with Hitler (the Munich agreement) and of the Nazi foreign minister and Stalin (the Nazi-Soviet pact) were also a historic grip, at the time peaceful but not ultimately successful.

Time continues, “It would only be a symbolic act, to be sure. But when it comes to international diplomacy, symbolism can go a long way.”

But it is not a mere symbolic act but the start of a foolish deal that Iran will break.

So is Iran a lunatic state or a rational actor? A hell of a lot more rational than U.S. foreign policy is today, as apparently has been the Muslim Brotherhood’s policy and trickery. After all, the UN just elected Iran as Rapporteur for the General Assembly’s main committee on Disarmament & International Security without Tehran having to do anything.  And Obama will blame Congress for diplomatic failure if it increases sanctions. In fact diplomats doubt Iran will actually do anything anyway.

That’s not moderate but radical in a smart way.

More politely, Iran is a rational actor in terms of its own objectives. The issue is to understand what Iran wants. Policy is always best served by truth, and the truth is best told whether or not people like it. Iran is an aggressive, rational actor.

Remember: The problem is not that Iran is eager to use nuclear weapons but that the Obama Administration is not going to apply containment properly and credibly.  And that encourages Iran’s non-nuclear aggression and terrorism.
 
The hysteria over Iran, however, had also better get under control, even as the real, very threatening situation should be understood. Armchair theorists from far away may want to provoke a U.S.-Iran war. This is a bad idea.

The fact is that the history of the Iranian Islamic regime does not show suicidal recklessness. A key reason for this is that the leaders of Iran know they can be reckless without risking suicide. In other words, Iran did face threats from the West commensurate with what Tehran was doing. Therefore, the risks it took were not suicidal. If apparently suicidal rhetoric does not produce suicide but serves a very specific purpose, that rhetoric is not in fact suicidal.

What, then, did Iran want?

Its basic goal was to be as powerful a regional hegemon as possible–including control over Syria and Lebanon. It would like to take leadership of all Muslims in the area. Today, however, it is clear that the Sunni Arabs reject Tehran’s leadership and will fight against it.

In other words, the ultimate extent of Iran’s zone of influence could only include part of Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, southwest Afghanistan, Bahrain, and the eastern province of Saudi Arabia. That is the maximum, and Iran is far from achieving that goal. And it will probably never achieve it.

Iran’s influence is limited by the location of Shia Muslims. Not all Shia Muslims favor Iran, and pretty much all Sunni Muslims oppose it. Therefore, whatever the outcome is in Syria–in other words if the regime wins–Iran will at most keep its current levels of influence. But if the regime wins, the Sunnis will hate Iran even more and will fight against it harder.

So Iran still wants to get the most power without fearing reprisal.

Nuclear weapons are a defensive shield to carry out conventional aggression.

As I’ve insisted for many years, it is increasingly clear that Iran will get nuclear weapons. We should start discussions in that framework. The recent brilliant decision of the Iranian elite–who is not only more ruthless but strategically smarter than Western leadership–to pick a national security insider, who is at best a slightly moderate extremist, as president guarantees it.

The question is only: when will Iran get nuclear weapons? The evidence seems to show that this is several years away. (It would be interesting if that development was too late to affect Syria’s civil war, and such will probably happen.)

Why will Iran certainly get nukes?

First, the West isn’t going to take strong enough action to stop it because the alternatives are deemed–perhaps accurately so–too risky. No surgical Israeli strike is going to stop it, and Obama will never support such a strike. Of course, there is a great deal of indifference about the potential victims and lots of greed about the money to be made from Iran. The sanctions may seem tough, but there are more holes than cheese.

After Ahmadinejad, though, there is perhaps a better money-making climate. His successor will further soothe Western willingness to battle on this nuclear issue.

And of course they just don’t care that much about potential genocide in Israel.

Second, with international support at a low point, the logistical difficulties, and a U.S. president who is incredibly reluctant, Israel is not going to attack Iran to stop it from getting nuclear weapons. What Israel should and will do is to make clear it will attack Iran if there is any reason to believe that Tehran might launch nuclear weapons. It will build up a multilayer defensive and offensive system.

This is not mere passive containment but would mean assured massive retaliation.

Note that there is more than one potential victim of Iran’s nuclear weapons. People, including the Israelis, talk a lot about Israel. Yet the Sunni Arab states are increasingly involved in shooting situations with Iranian proxies. Unlike Israel, they won’t do anything and perhaps can’t, except to beg the United States to take strong action. But the U.S. won’t do so.

And of course everyone can just hope everything will turn out all right.

A rare piece of good news, however, is that before the “Arab Spring,” it was conceivable that Iran might become leader or hegemon of the Arabic-speaking world. Israel-bashing was an important tool to do so. Now the Sunni Muslims have their own successful–even U.S.-backed!–Muslim Brotherhood movement. They not only don’t need Iran any more, they fight against Tehran.

Pushed on the defensive with more limited prospects–and knowing the Israel card won’t work–Tehran has lots less incentive to stake its survival on that issue. The nuclear weapons arsenal isn’t intended for a big bang to get revenge on Israel, it’s intended to keep the current regime in power against a growing number of enemies.

Put bluntly, Iran won’t waste its nuclear weapons on Israel or, as they might put it in Tehran, to give Israel an “excuse” to attack Iran. No pile of quotes from Iranian leaders to the contrary changes anything.
The key factor is not an appeal to the “international community” to protect Israel. Israel’s power rests precisely in old-fashioned credibility and deterrence:

Only Israel can credibly destroy the Islamic regime.  And the Islamic regime in Iran knows that. 
 
Israel was so important in Iranian verbal declarations precisely because Israel could at one time be turned into a card that strengthened Iran’s appeal with the Arabs and the Sunni. Iran certainly had very few other cards. But the Sunni and Arabs don’t care about this, given the big change of the last two years. The Israel card–as shown by the Syrian regime’s failure with it–is worthless.

Note that while Iran has been the leading sponsor of international terrorism and poured invective out against Israel, Iran did not notably take any material action against Israel beyond terror attacks and its sponsorship of Hizballah, Hamas, and Syria–which were its allies at the time. Compared to Arab efforts in the second half of the twentieth century, this was not very much.

In other words, against Israel, the Tehran regime talked a big game but did relatively little.

On other issues, too, Iran did not act like a country bent on suicide. Against its Arab enemies, it did not take considerable risks. Iran could wage a proxy war against America in Iraq, because the United States didn’t do very much about it.

All of the above in no way discounts an Iranian threat. Yes, of course, Iran sponsored terrorism and sought to gain influence and to spread revolution. Yet it did not attack a single country in open terms of warfare. Remember, Iran was invaded by Iraq. And when Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini himself was persuaded that the United States was entering the war against him, he quickly ended it, though he said that doing so was like eating snakes and scorpions; but that was necessary to preserve the regime.

Iran is the kind of aggressor who was once described by Winston Churchill as a thief who went down the street rattling doors to find one that was open.

Second, Iran sought to defend itself by threatening antagonists with total destruction and by obtaining the ultimate deterrence, nuclear weapons. This does not mean one should sympathize with Tehran since, after all, it sought nuclear weapons to ensure its defense while it continued aggressive policies.

Iran can also complain about American encirclement. Of course, if it did not follow the policies that were being practiced, there wouldn’t be a U.S. motive for any such efforts. The point, however, is that the claim that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons so it could destroy itself by attacking Israel is just not demonstrated.

Thus, Iran is not a demonic, crazed, kamikaze country. It is simply a typical aggressor who wants to have insurance against having to pay the price of such continued activity. North Korea and Pakistan sought nuclear weapons for the same reason, and it is working for them.

Let’s approach the issue in another way. Suppose Iran helped the Syrian regime win the civil war. Would the danger to Israel be increased? No, certainly it would not be from a nuclear standpoint. Assad would reestablish control over a wrecked and tottering country where the damage would take years to rebuild. But the problem is that Iran will be more secure in defending itself which means it will be more aggressive, but now with nuclear weapons.

The use of nuclear weapons loses whatever the possession of nuclear weapons gains.

Iran would be relieved at the Syrian regime’s survival but would not be better able to carry on a (nuclear) war against Israel. The Sunnis would be prepared to cooperate with the United States against Iran and even, covertly, with Israel up to a point. Indeed, the ability of Sunni Islamists to attack Israel would be reduced because of their obsession with the principal danger.

Again, I don’t want Assad to win in Syria. I believe that Iran is a threat. I think Iran will succeed in getting nuclear weapons. I don’t think the Tehran regime consists of lunatics who cannot wait to immolate themselves in a fiery funeral pyre. They want to stay in power for a long time. Israel has an alternative of preemption if necessary. But the United States will never help stop Iran’s getting of nukes.

This analysis should be conducted in a sober fashion. I believe, indeed I see clearly, that Israeli policymakers understand these issues. We should remember that Iran is not an insane state and that there are threats other than Iran in the Middle East.

The problem is not that Iran is eager to use nuclear weapons but that the Obama Administration is unlikely to apply containment properly and credibly. And then its version of containment might fail.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/rubin-reports/iran-neither-lunatic-state-nor-rational-actor-but-rational-aggressor/2013/10/07/

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