Tough Times Ahead for Israel
It appears that Israel might be facing the toughest struggle yet in its history. There is Syria, a country possibly becoming a tribal state; Iraq, with a growing influence from al-Qaeda; Egypt, quite likely to become an Islamist regime; and the terrorist organizations Hamas and Hezb'allah at Israel's borders. Then there is Iran, a dangerous and murderous country which could soon possess a nuclear weapon. American Thinker interviewed some experts, asking them their opinion on the Israel-Iran crisis.
New York Times bestselling author Daniel Silva, in his latest novel, The Fallen Angel, wrote, "There are some leaders who assure me that Israel can live with an Iran armed with a nuclear weapon. ... But to someone who lived through the madness of the Second World War, they sound too much like those who said the Jews had nothing to fear from a Germany led by Hitler and the Nazis. ... We ask only that you [Israel] proceed with the utmost caution, for your decisions will affect the entire world[.]"
Michael Hayden, the former CIA director, believes that Israel has a right to be concerned, since crunch time for Iran having a nuclear weapon will come in late 2013 or early 2014. He does not see the sanctions working and views all the options as bad. The problem with Iran today is that "[i]t is less stable and less predictable, which makes a lot of people concerned. People are less comfortable now than during the Cold War, since with the Soviet case, there seemed to be more traditional curves and breaks in behavior, whereas with North Korea, Pakistan, and Iran, the internal pathology of the states create behaviors that appear far less predictable and less susceptible to be influenced by other governments. Unfortunately, at the end of the day, the Iranians will be able to get a nuclear weapon if they have the will."
A nuclear Iran means a lose-lose situation for the world. Elliott Abrams, a former Middle East advisor to President George W. Bush, believes that a nuclear Iran will be a constant day-to-day threat, having a psychological impact on Israel. "If an Iranian official today makes frequent speeches about Israel being wiped off the map, it's disgusting, yet we all know currently [that] they don't have the ability to do it. How does an Iran that does have nuclear weapons behave? [It's] something I hope to never find out."
Hayden sees other consequences as well -- namely, a more hostile, bold, and brazen Iran, since the Iranians will have as a defense a nuclear umbrella. He also feels that Iran's nuclear capacity will show other second-rate powers that they can "stare down the international community with regard to nuclear weapons." What will then transpire is a regional nuclear arms race, causing a destabilized world. The Saudis have already discussed a nuclear guarantee with Pakistan. In addition, Turkey and Egypt will also desire a nuclear weapon.
Obviously, Israel has to weigh the risks of acting or not acting. It faces a very tough target that is dispersed, distant, and numerous. Israel must consider the physical effects of any action compared to the political and diplomatic price. A former intelligence operative who worked in the region told American Thinker, "There is no doubt in my mind that Iran is going to complete its enrichment program. When it has the capacity to do so, the Iranians have made it very clear they will wipe Israel off the face of the earth. I don't see that as rhetoric. Iran will have the missile capability to take out Israel. The problem is that Iran has nuclear bunkers so deep in the soil [that] there is a good possibility of having to do a land invasion as well. Then there is the worry that other Arab countries in the Middle East will attack Israel. This regional conflict can then turn into a global conflict. As we look at history, typically big wars start with smaller actions."
Abrams is not as pessimistic. He believes that the people of Iran hate their current leaders and are not anti-American or anti-Israeli. He wonders if there "is a tendency to underestimate the damage done with a strike on the Iranian nuclear program. Israel may be able to set it back by a number of years. I think defeat never helps a regime. A strike may lead to the demise of this Islamic Republic. The Iranian leaders will have to defend the position that they devoted untold billions of dollars, defied the world, and became a pariah -- for what?"
All interviewed agree that the world, and the U.S. in particular, needs to make sure that Iran believes that military action is a definite consideration. Congressman Mike Rogers (R-MI), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, noted that the Obama administration has to show in very concrete ways that the U.S. is serious regarding military engagement. He suggests aggressive joint exercises with Israel, as well as the movement of equipment to the region in a very public way. "We need to make the military threat real. By their brazen, aggressive behavior, Iran has shown they don't believe [that] the military option is on the table. The threat of military action is what brings us to peace and a de-nuclearized Iran. Without that, we are either going to get a full-blown Israeli-Iran conflict or a nuclear Iran. I believe in peace through strength. Taking a tough stand is one of the strongest ingredients to peace that I could think of."
During the June Global Terrorism Conference, sponsored by the U.S., the Obama administration did not take a tough stand. According to Rabbi Marvin Hier, Israel was deliberately excluded, yet countries with a history of sponsoring radical Islamic ideology were invited. What is this telling Iran, the world's largest state supporter of terrorism?
Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), chairperson of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, cannot understand the snub, since "Israel, if any state, knows something about counter-terrorism. Yet that is the country that is not invited to participate in the conference. We depend on Israel to be there for us, and vice-versa. We should not shun this ally. Remember, this is not the first time this administration has mistreated Israel. This administration has not shown friends we are their allies and enemies that we are their adversaries."
Abrams is disappointed but not surprised. His explanation for this rebuff is that the Obama administration caved to pressure and made a terrible mistake, "setting a precedent. What the U.S. should have done is take the position that the problem is with those hostile to Israel. They should be saying 'we will never have these conferences if Israel is excluded, so get used to it, and let's move forward.'"
Congressman Rogers told American Thinker that the image being relaying to Iran is that this administration's support for Israel is less than enthusiastic. It's the public policy, not the intelligence and security cooperation, that has been "confusing and difficult. This administration has been loath to make very tough statements. The president doesn't talk about drawing a line in the sand regarding Iran."
The recent terrorist attack in Bulgaria by Iran has shown how the Iranians will act without nuclear weapons. This is a sad reminder of the nature of this regime. The Iranian leadership are willing to accept any amount of damage to their country to achieve the goal of obtaining nuclear weapons. Congressman Rogers summarized it best: "Israel's challenge is now. They have to make a decision on what is best for their existence. As one Israeli official recently told me, 'we started this nation to say never again so we would not be put in a position that we were during the Holocaust. Maybe we have put all the Jews in one place to be easily annihilated with a nuclear weapon. We must not let that happen.'"