September 5, 2006
America, Israel and Iran: Some Troubling QuestionsBy Rachel Neuwirth
As Iran's nuclear program moves ahead, there is something especially puzzling, and even disturbing, about American actions. Three years ago President Bush stated that Iran must not be allowed to go nuclear. As time passes Iran becomes more dangerous and belligerent, yet President Bush's stance becomes weaker instead of stronger. He now works with the U.N. Security Council where China and Russia play their own double game against America. Talk of sanctions does not bother Iran. Saddam Hussein managed very well under U.N. sanctions, which he easily evaded under the U.N.'s 'Oil for Food Program'. Iran is in a position to do even better than Iraq thanks to oil at $70 per barrel, plus the support of Russia and China.
America and Israel are supposed to be allies in close communication. Iran poses a growing danger to both America and Israel. Both countries should be coordinating joint defense against a common enemy. And yet Israel is gradually becoming resigned to the prospect of having to go it alone in facing an existential threat from Iran. Israel sees NATO membership readily extended to countries that were former Soviet satellites while Israel remains excluded.
If Israel, our loyal and endangered ally, is feeling unsure about American intentions and resolve, some serious questions need to be asked. At this point we must also wonder if the U.S. administration is playing a double game with Israeli lives as poker chips.
A recent report, 'U.S. military sees Iran's nuke bomb 5 years away', raises more questions. A year ago we were told Iran's nuclear point of no return was only months away. Now the estimate suddenly becomes 5—8 years!
Why is Iran supposedly taking so much longer to develop nuclear weapons than any other nuclear power? America, Russia, Israel, England, France, North Korea, Pakistan, China, India and Saddam Hussein (who came close back in 1991) all took far less time than Iran's 20 years and counting. This is especially strange considering all of Iran's advantages. They received help from A.Q. Kahn of Pakistan, from North Korea, and they could hire scientists from the Former Soviet Union. They have spent huge amounts of money and built a vast nuclear infrastructure with advanced P2 centrifuges to produce weapon's grade uranium. And yet we are now told that it will be 5—8 more years until Iran goes nuclear.
Another disturbing element is that Iran is making special efforts to keep their program highly secret with some facilities buried very deep underground with no access for U.N. nuclear inspectors. American officials also admit that U.S. intelligence is limited, which raises the obvious question: how can they put a 5—8 year time on Iran? Recall that following the first Gulf War against Iraq in 1991, the U.S. admitted surprise at how close Saddam Hussein was to achieving nuclear weapons. U.S. intelligence also underestimated how quickly Russia and China would go nuclear.
How do we know whether Iran has already bought some of those 'suitcase bombs' that 'disappeared' from the Former Soviet Union (FSU) as announced by Russian General Lebed before his untimely death. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union we recall the great concern over controlling the vast Soviet nuclear arsenal and its stockpile of fissionable material. We also know of instances where nuclear materials were intercepted in the process of being smuggled out of the FSU.
Given all of the above, and the acknowledged lack of accurate intelligence, why should we rely on the U.S. estimate of 5—8 years? Could something else be going on?
The Bush administration has repeatedly affirmed that it does not want Iran to go nuclear. It is also becoming clear that the military option may be necessary. But with U.S. difficulties in Iraq and Afghanistan, a military strike on Iran would further inflame the Muslim world against America. A joint U.S.—Israeli strike looks even less appealing politically, because to Muslims it would confirm their most extreme beliefs of America and Israel acting in collusion against all Muslims.
But what if Israel acted alone against Iran? Israel could not do as much damage as a U.S. strike, but might still set Iran's nuclear program back by perhaps ten years. Israel would be doing America's dirty work while exclusively bearing the cost in blood, expense and retaliation. Meanwhile America could play the role of 'honest' broker between both sides and call for a U.N. resolution for a cease fire. If necessary America would be the one country that could pressure Israel for restraint if things were getting out of hand. This would allow the U.S. to cultivate good relations with Arab and Muslim countries. In the past the U.S. has stepped in at least three times (1948, 1973 and 1982) to save Arab armies from total defeat by Israel.
If things went well for Israel, the U.S. would have little to do beyond diplomacy while collecting cost—free benefits. But if things went badly for Israel the U.S. could claim to be even—handed by joining with Israel's enemies in denouncing 'unprovoked aggression' by Israel. If Israel was going down to bloody defeat, the U.S. could remind the American people that we had no mutual defense treaty obligating us to act to save Israel, especially when Israel attacked first. We could then generously offer humanitarian aid to any Jewish survivors and perhaps even help transport them elsewhere, provided other countries would agree to take them in.
Perhaps the U.S. plan is to delay action until Israel is unable to wait any longer and feels forced to preempt or risk annihilation. As of now Israel already knows that it may have to act on its own and the U.S. has declined to announce a firm deadline for possible military action. The U.S. can just go through the diplomatic motions, keeping alive the slim hope that it may act before Israel finally becomes desperate.
If Iran gets lucky and lands nukes on Tel Aviv, it is all over for Israel. The U.S. State Department's Arabists would have achieved their secret long term goal of a Middle East free of Israel. (The consistent refusal of every U.S. administration since 1948 to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem could be interpreted as a signal to the Arabs that America regards Israel's existence as temporary.) The Arabs would be delirious with joy, and to show their gratitude might then tolerate the U.S. smashing the Iranian nuclear facilities, in retaliation, since Persian nukes also posed a threat to them.
This cynical and sinister scenario by the U.S. administration is all too conceivable. Consider WWII as just one example among others. By the 1930's the U.S. was already in support of England and France's efforts to prevent a Jewish state from being reborn in the ancient Jewish homeland after nearly 2,000 years of exile. The League of Nations after WW I had established a Mandate for a Jewish National Home in Palestine to be administered by England. From the start England sabotaged the very Mandate it was charged with implementing.
During WWII President Roosevelt and the British government conspired to prevent a Jewish State from coming into existence. European Jewry was the potential source to populate that future Jewish State. Two books, the first , The Abandonment of the Jews — America and the Holocaust 1941—1945 by David S. Wyman and the second, While Six Million Died — A Chronicle of American Apathy by Arthur D. Morse, tell the story. Actually it was much more than 'apathy'. There was deliberate allied obstruction of attempts to save the Jewish people from destruction.
The Roosevelt Administration played down reports of genocide against Jews lest the American public demand action to save Jews. Hundreds of thousands of immigration slots were deliberately left unfulfilled so that coming to America was not a viable option for European Jews. England also cut off Jewish escape routes to Palestine which also pleased Arab leaders.
While voicing sympathy in public for Jews, both governments conspired to allow Hitler full reign to exterminate European Jews. Evidently having a democratic Jewish State in the Middle East might give the poor Arab masses the 'wrong ideas' about wanting self—government and freedom from foreign exploitation. Much easier to dominate the region through compliant Arab chieftains such as King ibn Saud of Arabia.
Bert Cohen assisted in the preparation of this article.