Thursday, December 9, 2010

Should Israel Take Out Iranian Nukes?

This is a question that I have gone and back and forth over during the last few years and I very definitely believe that it is a question that people of good will can disagree upon.

If you had asked me this question, say, a year and a half ago, I would have said "No, Israel should not attack the Iranian nuclear program." At the time I probably would have argued that the downside to an attack on Iran would exceed the downside of an Iran with nukes. After all, if Iran has nuclear weaponry there is no way that they would use those nukes any more than the Soviet Union was inclined to use its nukes.

The mullahs may be hard-line, right-wing theocrats but they are neither crazy, nor stupid. Any Iranian nuclear attack on Israel or the West would mean that Tehran gets turned into a parking lot. Despite the horrendous Islamist rhetoric about "loving death" I do not believe for one minute that the mullahs are intent on suicide.

That privilege is strictly for others, not the people in power.

Slowly, slowly, however, I am changing my mind on this matter. It was probably Daniel Gordis, more than anyone else, who gave me pause on the question.

{If you're not familiar with Gordis, you should definitely check him out. He has any number of lectures on Google Video, or his own site, that are very interesting.}

Heck, I'll just post one:

It's lengthy, but well worth it.  Very inspiring.

{And for those of you who would dismiss Gordis as a "right-winger," he voted for Jesse Jackson.  FYI.}

What Gordis argues, although not in the above video, is that if Israel means anything it means freedom from non-Jews deciding the fate of the Jewish people. No longer would Jews live or die according to the whims of non-Jews.

The problem with Iranian nukes, of course, is that it means that Jewish self-determination becomes moot. If Iran gets nuclear weaponry it means that Tehran can take out Israel at a moment's notice. Even if they did not do it, they would always have the option. And while it may be true that Tehran would never commit suicide by attacking Tel Aviv, we can never be fully sure of that. But even if they never used those weapons, the Ayatollahs would still hold the fate of Israel in their palms.

One might argue that other countries, including Pakistan, already have nuclear weaponry and so the fate of Israel is already in the hands of non-Jews. Pakistan, for example, could shoot a weapon at Israel at any time.

While this is true, the difference is that Pakistan is not threatening Israel. Hamas and Hezbollah are not the proxies of Pakistan, but of Iran. Furthermore, if the Jewish people have learned anything in the last half century it is that when the leaders of foreign capitals declare their genocidal animosity toward us, as Ahmadinejad has done, we must assume that they mean every word.

{Oh, and btw, Juan Cole does not get to credibly declare Ahmadinejad's benevolence even as Ahmadinejad, himself, declares his animosity.  Cole can whisper all the sweet nothings that he wants, but no one with a level head is buying it.}

For these reasons, and others, I do not see where Israel is in any position to allow Iranian nukes. The American administration will likely do nothing under Obama to prevent those nukes, so Israel may very well have to do what is necessary.

Also understand, of course, that if Iran goes nuclear the entire balance of power in the Middle East will shift in their direction. The main tension in the Middle East, at least according to analysts such as Barry Rubin, is between nationalist governments and Islamist governments. Essentially, Cairo versus Tehran. If Iran goes nuclear, this will be a huge boon for the Islamist movement. It will mean a strengthened and emboldened Hamas and Hez and will bring Turkey further into the Iranian orbit.

This strengthening of the Islamist regime in Iran would also mean that the chances of the Iranian people overthrowing that regime, as they seem to want to do, would greatly diminish even as the regime's ability to direct terrorism toward the west without consequence would greatly increase.  If Iran has nukes there will be no way of stopping them from directing terrorism in any direction that they wish.

Finally, if the Iranian regime goes nuclear this will touch off a Middle East arms race in which every country in the region will step up efforts to likewise go nuclear.  In short order we will see Cairo and Damascus and Riyadh building arsenals, as well.

So, where does all this leave us?


Israel Should Take Out Iranian Nukes. 

When Israel does so... if it does so... the Arab capitals will breathe a sigh of relief, as we've learned from Wikileaks, even as they condemn the Jewish state and further seek to delegitimize it.  It's a grotesque scenario, but there it is.  Just as the Palestinian Authority egged Israel on with Operation Cast Lead and then condemned the operation at the United Nations, so the Arab governments will egg on an attack against Iran's nuclear program and then turn around and condemn Israel for doing precisely what they asked the United States to do.  The hypocrisy is rank, but this is nothing new.

The western left, of course, will also excoriate Israel, but the left always excoriates Israel.  Whether on the blogs or within the NGOs or in the left press, they will scream to the heavens about Israeli militarism.

And I guess we'll just have to live with that.

{Oh, and for those of you who doubt that Iran will use its nuclear technology to create weaponry, what can I say? You are not living in anything that even remotely resembles a reality-based universe.}

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