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Israel won't blink first

Op-ed: Global assumption that Israel will blink first in nuclear showdown with Iran is false

Published: 02.14.12, 17:59 / Israel Opinion

A friend recently told me that he was surprised by my support for an Israeli strike in Iran. Why do you think I support it? I asked. The friend said he based it on my recent column where I wrote that a war against Iran is unavoidable and is at our doorstep.

 

To my regret, other readers took my column to mean that I crave an Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, even though I did not write that. So in the interest of clarifying my remarks I hereby state that the purpose of my article was not to call for or oppose a strike on Iran. I only wanted to describe the conditions where a war between Israel and Iran would be unavoidable, and remind my readers that at this time most if not all of these conditions have been met.

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However, there was no deterministic approach here: Even now it would be easy to avert what seems inevitable. Should the government in Tehran open up all his nuclear facilities, including the secret ones, to IAEA inspectors and freeze its military nuclear program, it would avert a clash with Israel.

 

Renouncing nuclear weapons will not be undermining the regime’s credibility in the eyes of Iranian citizens: The regime will in fact gain credibility by proving its international pledges to develop nuclear capabilities for peaceful purposes only.

 

However, given a failure to change Iran’s nuclear policy and Tehran’s desire to quickly acquire nuclear arms, soon development shall reach the red line; beyond it, Israel only has one option left: A wide-ranging military operation. Not because someone wants it, but rather, because there is no other choice.

 

In an international forum on the subject I was once asked whether there is an Israeli prime minister who would assume the historic national responsibility to send bombers and missiles to attack Iran’s nuclear program. I responded by saying that there is no Israeli PM who would assume the terrible responsibility of failing to use the bombers and missiles under such circumstances.

 

No middle ground

There is some kind of hidden assumption in global diplomacy that Israel will be blinking at the last moment. But it will not. Those who doubt Israel’s determination shall be losing their wager. The State of Israel, as the national home of the Jews, has decided to prevent Iran from possessing nuclear weapons. It would be better to do so via brains, but if there is no other choice, it will be done by using force.

 

In addition to the clock of diplomacy and secret war, there is another clock ticking on the Israeli prime minister’s desk, one that gauges Iran’s progress towards a bomb. The moment this clock approaches zero hour, a military operation will do the same. No begging will stop Israel at that point. There will be a war.

 

The international community can go ahead and offer numerous plans for a situation where Iran acquires military nuclear capabilities and aim to create a new balance of terror between Tehran and Tel Aviv: All these plans and attempts are a waste of computer space. There is no point in discussing the state of the Middle East in an era of a nuclear Iran, for the simple reason that Israel would simply not accept Iranian nukes.

 

Israel will only bomb Iran’s nuclear military industry as a last resort – and as a last resort, Israel will indeed go ahead and bomb.

 

On this principled issue, Israel has nowhere to retreat to. The concessions and compromises will therefore have to come from the Iranian side.

 

The situation is similar to the state of affairs that prevailed on the eve of the first Gulf War. The US Administration and American public opinion were united in the approach that should Saddam Hussein not withdraw from Kuwait under diplomatic-economic pressure, the US military will remove him from there by force.

 

Meanwhile, Saddam Hussein was certain that the Americans are bluffing and that they would not dare get entangled in a war against an Arab state located thousands of kilometers away from home. To his misfortune, America did dare – twice.

 

Israel will also dare. Either Iran doesn’t possess nuclear arms, or we’ll see a war. There’s no middle ground.

 

 

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