Trauma wags the dog

on 8 Comments

An important piece in today’s Haaretz by Anshel Pfeffer saying that the main reason that Israelis gave Jeffrey Goldberg for attacking Iran is to prevent another Holocaust. Pfeffer recognizes that this is crazy thinking. And we are taking it seriously in the U.S.?

There are good and valid reasons for and against attacking Iran, but as long as the Holocaust is part of the equation, those who have to make the call will never be able to reach a reasoned decision.

It seems that in the national Israeli psyche, backed up by the education system and the IDF, the only worthwhile lesson of the Holocaust is that Israel should be strong and defend itself, and the only purpose of defending Israel is that there should not be another Holocaust.

Israel will probably succeed in preventing Ahmadinejad from building a bomb, but if in doing so its leaders continue to invoke Auschwitz repeatedly, then we are all losers. Israelis will lose the ability and ambition to try and turn their country into something more than just a safe haven, and their senses will become even more dulled to feeling the pain and suffering of others.

8 Responses

  1. Jim Haygood
    August 13, 2010, 10:06 am

    We’ll see how seriously the Holocaust bogeyman is taken in the US, when reaction to today’s announcement about the start-up of the Bushehr reactor on Aug. 21 starts coming in.

    The Bushehr reactor, whose Russian-supplied fuel is already in Iran under IAEA seal, has nothing to do with Iran’s controversial uranium enrichment project underway elsewhere.

    Yet the NYT in its article says the Bushehr start-up is ‘sure to disappoint US diplomats trying to halt Iran’s nuclear program’ — thus blurring the distinction in its lead paragraph. Par for the MSM course, as editorial cues are awaited from Washington and Tel Aviv.

    link to

  2. Richard Witty
    August 13, 2010, 10:43 am

    The issue with Iran is similar to the US issues with Russia in the Cold War, but to a far far more limited extent.

    That is that Russia never launched a nuclear attack, not on the US, not on neighbors, not from proxy states. The increment of the Cuban missile crisis was the closest that the world came to nuclear war, with Russia proposing “deterrent” capability by siting a warhead on the equivalent of the US border.

    Those that were were in foreign policy circles, or studied that and related incidents, think of Hezbollah as a parallel proxy of Iran, as Cuba was of the Soviet Union.

    People were writing the type of commentary that Goldberg wrote in the late 40’s. Some were arguing for unilateral assault on the Soviet Union (he didn’t make that argument against Iran in the article in question) when it was discovered that they had nuclear capacity. Thankfully, even the “credible” ones (some of whom were “realists”) were not followed.

    The way that the Soviet Union was threatening, more than disruptive, was through proxies.

    That already exists. The difference between a nuclear armed Iran and not, is the veto power that Iran gains by the nuclear “deterrent”.

    Walt does not argue for example that Iran should be encouraged to develop nuclear weapons. He describes it as a destabalizing influence, but disputes the appropriate and effective strategy for containment.

    I’m not clear of his proposal.

    I personally don’t believe that there is in Israel a prevailing weight of sincere intention to attack Iran. I could be wrong. There is no conceivable way that the US would currently

    • Chaos4700
      August 13, 2010, 10:57 am

      So, you’re saying it’s like the Cold War, except “Russia” in this case is not an imperial power, has a constitutional parliamentary system, lacks nuclear arms, is on amicable terms with Europe and in no way threatens US territory at all.

      Gee, Witty, what a cogent analysis.

    • Chaos4700
      August 13, 2010, 10:58 am

      Condoleeza Rice couldn’t have said it any… er, “better,” I suppose.

    • James North
      August 15, 2010, 9:14 pm

      Richard: This is not a hostile question, but on what basis do you gauge “the prevailing weight of sincere intention” in Israel? It doesn’t sound like you have been there recently. Mondoweiss carries on-the-spot reports which — along with Haaretz and other sources — seem to suggest public opinion in Israel is moving rapidly to the right.
      When was your last visit? What other sources of information do have have that let you assess opinion there? (I’m not asking you to name names, just give us some idea where your up-to-date information is coming from?)

  3. RoHa
    August 13, 2010, 9:32 pm

    “There are good and valid reasons for … attacking Iran,”

    If you are in the arms trade, yes, but otherwise…?

    • DICKERSON3870
      August 14, 2010, 1:35 am

      RE: “If you are in the arms trade, yes, but otherwise…?” – RoHa
      ANSWER: Because you can, dearie! [followed by a Louis XIV-like giggle]
      FROM TED RALL, 07/22/10:

      …Umberto Eco’s 1995 essay “Eternal Fascism” describes the cult of action for its own sake under fascist regimes and movements: “Action being beautiful in itself, it must be taken before, or without, reflection. Thinking is a form of emasculation.”

      SOURCE – link to

  4. MHughes976
    August 14, 2010, 4:56 am

    Nobody likes weapons that might be used against them. To that extent we can sympathise with Israel. But it’s a bit much to say ‘No more holocausts!’ in this context.
    The entire purpose of the Israeli nuclear arsenal is to keep up the possibility, that thinly veiled threat, of ‘burning the whole’ of certain hostile populations if necessary. Just the same with the other nuclear arsenals that still exist around the world. Those who are subject to the threat of these weapons don’t like the situation, of course. They can’t abolish the weapons that threaten them, they can only resort to deterrence.
    Iran is attempting deterrence through veiled threats that it might one day have a bomb, Israel by getting academics and journalists to issue threats on its behalf. Pfeffer seems to imply that Israel will succeed in its battle of words, though I’d have thought that the threats must increasingly seem empty to the Iranians whom they are intended to impress, just because they’ve been repeated so often and for so long.

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