The case for bombing Iran's nuclear facilities

Former CIA officer Reuel Marc Gerecht, writing in the Weekly Standard, makes a compelling, rational, and urgent case for Israel to do what America seems reluctant to do; bomb the Iranian nuclear facilities.

The piece is too long to give you a fair sense of its breadth and scope, but one thing that Gerecht manages to do is lay out the case against bombing in a fair, and comprehensive manner:

There is only one thing that terrifies Washington's foreign policy establishment more than the prospect of an American airstrike against Iran's nuclear-weapons facilities: an Israeli airstrike. Left, right, and center, "sensible" people view the idea with alarm. Such an attack would, they say, do great damage to the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan, where Tehran would counterattack, punishing "the Great Satan" (America) for the sins of "the Little Satan" (Israel). An Israeli strike could lead to the closing of the world's oil passageway, the Strait of Hormuz; prompt Muslims throughout the world to rise up in outrage; and spark a Middle Eastern war that might drag in the United States. Barack Obama's "New Beginning" with Muslims, such as it is, would be over the moment Israeli bunker-busting bombs hit.

An Israeli "preventive" attack, we are further told, couldn't possibly stop the Islamic Republic from developing a nuke, and would actually make it more likely that the virulently anti-Zionist supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, would strike Israel with a nuclear weapon. It would also provoke Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps to deploy its terrorist assets against Israel and the United States. Hezbollah, the Islamic Revolution's one true Arab child, would unleash all the missiles it has imported from Tehran and Damascus since 2006, the last time the Party of God and the Jewish state collided.

An Israeli preemptive strike unauthorized by Washington (and President Barack Obama is unlikely to authorize one) could also severely damage Israel's standing with the American public, as well as America's relations with Europe, since the "diplomacy first, diplomacy only" Europeans would go ballistic, demanding a more severe punishment of Israel than Washington could countenance. The Jewish state's relations with the European Union-Israel's major trading partner-could collapse. And, last but not least, an Israeli strike could fatally compromise the pro-democracy Green Movement in Iran, which is the only hope the West has for an end to the nuclear menace by means of regime change. This concern was expressed halfheartedly before the tumultuous Iranian elections of June 12, 2009, but it is now voiced with urgency by those who truly care about the Green Movement spawned by those elections and don't want any American or Israeli action to harm it.

Gerecht calls these concerns "overblown" and responds to each one with clarity and logic. For my point of view, he glosses over the effect on the Green Movement - Iran's domestic opposition. Supreme Leader Khamenei would almost certainly use any Israeli strike as an excuse to go on a killing spree against the opposition, setting back their cause many years, perhaps decades.

Where Gerecht is most convincing is in his dismissal of concerns over how the Iranians would react in Iraq, where the Shias are in control. An Iranian response that would embarrass their co-religionists in Iraq would be counterproductive and hence, the Iranians would probably refrain from doing much damage in Iraq.

Gerecht notes that time is not on Israel's side which means that Netanyahu - if he is going to act - will do so sooner rather than later. The reaction of the world may be extremely detrimental to Israel, but they appear ready and willing to pay that price in order to rid itself of the existential threat Iranian nukes present to the Jewish state.