At a time when Israel lobbyist Dennis Ross assures us that we are moving toward “the use of force,” and Martin Indyk assures us that there will be an attack on Iran in the spring, and neoconservative David Brooks assures us that the US and Israelis are “on the same page,” presumably for an attack in the spring– well, there’s good news in today’s papers. Pundits who favor containing Iran are beginning to stick their heads out.
This is the best development of the election campaign: Romney’s neoconservatism has been politicized; public opinion has weighed in and Indyk and Ross’s push for war is being rejected. So realists feel safe in expresssing these views.
In the Philadelphia Inquirer Trudy Rubin savages Netanyahu for trying to tell Americans how to respond to Iran and then she offers the rationale for containing Iran:
Yet, many U.S. (and Israeli) security experts think the Iranian regime is too rational to entertain the idea of nuking Israel. An attack on Israel would destroy two million Palestinians, along with Islam’s third holiest mosque, and guarantee a second-strike nuclear attack on Tehran. It would destroy Iran’s (already fading) aspirations to become leaders of all Muslims, including Sunnis.
Moreover, Ahmadinejad, the prime spouter of apocalyptic rhetoric, is so out of favor with the regime that his spokesman was arrested in Tehran the day he spoke at the U.N. His presidential term ends next spring and won’t be extended.
If the threat is less urgent, and the ayatollahs are rational, more pressure may still produce results.
Sorry Rubin, but the mosque is not in Israel. It’s in annexed East Jerusalem, an annexation no one in the world accepts outside of the Zionists. But the point is an important one: realist Steve Walt said it long ago.
Rubin also says what I’ve said: Romney would dial back his rhetoric if he were elected. Because we have no interest in another war:
[A]ny U.S. president must design that policy in accordance with America’s interests. He must calculate at what point the threat justifies military action. (My guess is that, if elected, Mitt Romney would roll back his commitment to back Bibi’s red lines all the way.)
Next, here is William Broad in the New York Times saying that the way to insure that Iran will get a bomb is to threaten it. He is reflecting, implicitly, Ahmadinejad’s argument in New York last week — who is this Netanyahu to be threatening another country with attack?
Jeffrey Lewis, a nuclear nonproliferation specialist at the Monterey Institute of International Studies [says] “…My sense is that the threat of military action makes bad guys feel like they need the bomb.”
Pakistan’s foreign minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, seemed to have embodied that kind of determination when he said famously in 1965, “If India builds the bomb, we will eat grass or leaves, even go hungry, but we will get one of our own.”
So maybe Israel should get rid of its nukes? Implicit in Broad’s argument is the realist claim that other countries have managed “existential” threats with a rationale of mutually-assured destruction. Yes that leaves me cold. But maybe Israel should just chill. Broad’s experts:
Mark Fitzpatrick, a senior nonproliferation official at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a prominent arms analysis group in London, said in an e-mail interview that it was “almost certain” that a military strike on Iran would result in “a Manhattan-style rush to produce nuclear weapons as fast as possible.”
These analysts maintain that the history of nuclear proliferation shows that attempting to thwart a nuclear program through an attack can have consequences opposite of those intended. Mr. Lewis of the Monterey Institute and other experts often cite Iraq. Israel’s attack on the Iraqi Osirak reactor in 1981, they argue, hardened the resolve of Saddam Hussein and gave his nuclear ambitions new life.