MJ Rosenberg on Israel’s Possible Strike at Iran

Ehud Barak: Iranian Nuclear Program Not Really About Israel

The classic definition of a campaign gaffe is when a politician inadvertently speaks a truth that will hurt him politically. The first George Bush committed a gaffe when he said that the idea that cutting taxes would increase government revenue was “voodoo economics.” Similarly, it was a gaffe when Barack Obama said that insecure right-wingers “cling” to religion and guns. In other words, a gaffe is a politically inconvenient truth.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak gaffed big time this week. In fact, this gaffe is even more colossal than when he said back in 1999 that if he were a stateless young Palestinian, he would “have joined one of the terror organizations.”

But Barak’s remark this week is breathtaking in both its honesty and in its utter deviation from an Israeli government line that has not only been sold to the Israeli people, but also to the United States government — especially to Congress, where anything from Bibi Netanyahu’s office is treated as gospel.

Appearing on PBS’ Charlie Rose, Barak was asked if he would want nuclear weapons if he were an Iranian government minister. He said he probably would.

BARAK: Probably, probably. I know it’s not — I mean I don’t delude myself that they are doing it just because of Israel.  They look around, they see the Indians are nuclear, the Chinese are nuclear, Pakistan is nuclear, not to mention the Russians.

Barak won’t “delude” himself with the belief that Iran’s nuclear weapon program is “just because of Israel.”

Well, it’s always nice to be true to yourself. (After the Israeli right went ballistic over Barak’s remarks, he qualified them, but in such a half-hearted way that it is clear what he said on PBS is what he believes.)

Of course, he and Netanyahu, not to mention a host of officials in successive Israeli governments for 15 years, have sold the entire world on the idea that Iran seeks nuclear weapons for the purpose of destroying Israel.

Over and over again, Israeli officials have said that the Iranian government is insane with anti-Semitism, so insane that it would joyfully nuke Israel without any regard for the fact that Israel has 200 land, air, and sea-based missiles that could kill millions of Iranians. They have cited as evidence Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust denial, essentially arguing that it proves that Iran’s goal is another Holocaust.

Netanyahu himself has said that this is 1938 or 1942, and Jews are facing a threat as direct and demonic as Hitler’s. They have pointed to Ahmadinejad’s and the mullahs’ hatred for Israel and support for anti-Israel terrorist groups as proof that Iran would commit national suicide to destroy Israel, becoming, in fact, the first nation in history to commit suicide in order to destroy another. But, we are told, Iranians are Shiite fanatics who prefer death to life — and especially the death of Jews (not including the Jews who live in Iran, however).

Accordingly, the leading advocates for “crippling sanctions” against Iran and for keeping the “bomb Iran” option “on the table” have been the right-wing “pro-Israel” organizations led by AIPAC, its congressional cutouts, and, in the blogosphere, Commentary, which is central command headquarters for the “Bomb Iran” movement.

That is because Iranian nuclear weapons are portrayed, first and foremost, as an “existential threat” to Israel. Only later do the “bomb Iran” advocates get around to mentioning the possible threat to southern Europe, or that Iran might share its nuclear technology with terror groups. That is why Barak’s statement is such good news.

With one honest comment, he demonstrated that the hysteria surrounding an Iranian bomb is, in fact, not about an “existential threat” to Israel, but about two countries competing for regional hegemony.

Israelis don’t want Iran to have a nuclear weapon because, if it does, Israel will not be free to do whatever it wants to in the Middle East, whenever it wants to. As for Iran, the Washington Post reported this week that support for nuclear development is universal, with the Green Movement and supporters of Ahmadinejad united in the belief that Iran has the same right to nuclear development that other countries have. The Iranian government knows that going nuclear makes it a bigger player (a more meddlesome one, no doubt) in the region, which is far from desirable but which hardly merits launching a war.

This is not to say that the world community should not do what it can to deter Iran from achieving nuclear bombs. Another nuclear armed country — especially one run by a radical, terror-supporting bunch of clerics — is the last thing the world needs. But the way to deter Iran is to negotiate with it, not to bomb it or inflict “crippling sanctions” on its people either. Bombing should be off the table; diplomacy should be on it.

As for Israel, it has every right to be concerned about a nuclear-armed Iran, even with its own huge nuclear arsenal. But it does not have the right to steamroll Americans into supporting (or waging) a war that would jeopardize all our vital interests in the Middle East — from our military and civilian personnel to our oil supply.

Israel’s primary concern, rightly, is its own survival. But an Iranian bomb does not threaten Israel’s survival nearly as much as the war Netanyahu might launch ostensibly to deter it.

Meir Dagan, the Mossad chief who retired early this year, calls bombing Iran a “stupid idea“. He says:

A military attack will give the Iranians the best excuse to pursue the nuclear race. Khamenei will say ‘I was attacked by a country with nuclear capabilities; my nuclear program was peaceful, but I must protect my country.’

He adds that any attack on Iran would lead Hezbollah to let fly its thousands of missiles against Israeli cities, missiles infinitely more numerous, deadly, and sophisticated than anything Hamas has.

Another ex-Mossad chief, Ephraim Halevy, says that Iran does not present an existential threat to Israel. “The State of Israel cannot be destroyed [but] an attack on Iran could affect not only Israel, but the entire region for 100 years,” he warns.

And now we have Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s admission that the Israeli campaign to rush the U.S. and Israel itself into war is based on, at best, hype, and at worst, lies. Just like Iraq.

Are we really going to fall for this a second time? I don’t think so because, to put it simply, we aren’t that stupid. As that old adage goes: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.


3 thoughts on “MJ Rosenberg on Israel’s Possible Strike at Iran

  1. As evidence of the foolishness of considering U S Evangelicals friends of Isreal…Santorum says that if he were elected he would bomb Iran. Granted the GOP candidates all sound like idiots, but this is a real danger. Fortunately Santorum’s chances of being elected are between none and zero.

  2. Washington, DC’s & Tel Aviv’s threats against Iran remind you of Hitler’s threats against Czechoslovakia and Poland. Hitler and his Nazi minions made threats which were “justified” on preemptive grounds. They carried out their threats because Europe was too afraid to take corrective action. You can bet that Hitler’s modern day counterparts will take the same action unless and until the world develops the guts to stop those terrorist threats.


  3. Some good points are made about the contradictory nature of Barak’s interview. These however leave out one very essential question that is not asked.

    Why would nuclear weapons be good for Iran?

    In fact other questions should be why not give nuclear weapons then to other countries in the area, Syria, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain?

    And we would go this far then why not give nuclear weapons to Hamas, Hezbollah and throw in Al Quaida for good measure?

    These questions are posed not for their sardonic value but to illustrate a very important consideration. It is called responsibility. Would you assent to the fact that there are forces of chaos in the world that seek to impose their will because of their need for power and money? We can include governments here if you like.

    Should we instead offer Iran our latest technology and nuclear weapons as a show of good faith letting bygones be bygones?

    Do you believe that Iran has malevolent intentions towards Israel? Do they recognize Israel as a state?

    These further questions are simply queries to find out where you are coming from. It has always been true that Israel and indeed the Jewish people have lived a tenuous existence that has been fraught with the threat of extinction since the destruction of the second temple.

    Yes it is true that there are corrupt politicians in Israel as there are here in the USA. It is the nature of politics to corrupt those who live by its principles which are gain for gain, negotiation for gain, and manipulation for gain. Leverage is the key principle either through words or actions.

    It would seem to be prudent to do everything possible as a Jew to prevent the dissolution of Israel. Making Iran does not have nuclear capability is a part of that prevention. To seek a pallative that allows Iran to develop the ‘bomb’ is just wrong. It disregards the consequences not the least of which would be an escalation of confrontation that this area needs more of like a hole in the head.

    If we argue for the sake of fairness that Iran should have the ‘bomb’ which is something you did not say but that omission leads one to believe that this is perhaps implied doesn’t make good sense.

    After all is said and done if Iran does succeed in bringing off this capability (G-d forbid) then in this world of confrontation that becomes escalated the next question and final one for discussion is…’what could we have been thinking to allow such an insane situation to take place.

    Thankfully there are those that regardless of political considerations consider the logistics of this scenario and have already put into place the failure of Iran’s nuclear program. It is a done deal. It really is okay. If Iran is denied their right to kill or threaten this isn’t such a bad thing after all

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