At least in the view of the West, it appears that the ancient dispute with the various Ahmadinejads on whether the Iranian nuclear project is “civilian” or “military” had been decided in the International Atomic Energy Agency report. The explicit exposure of the program, after years of deception, seemingly positioned top Western leaders in the face of a situation whereby they would have more trouble than ever before to make pretenses of seriously addressing the problem.
However, even now this approach is summed up with no more than a Western willingness to tighten Iran sanctions, which up until now were not proven as particularly effective in curbing the Iranian desire for nukes. It’s a little difficult to avoid the conclusion that the age-old equation, which has no other alternative, remains intact: Without decisive military action, the ayatollahs would not be kept away from the bomb.
Yet the West, headed by the United States, continues to stay away from military action, which is the only way to rid the world and the region of a nuclear nightmare. The American reservations over a military operation, as expressed for example by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s words that an Iran strike could have unexpected consequences, again show us that harsh sanctions are the most the US and its Western allies aspire for.
The Obama Administration is trying to make pretenses of decisively addressing the problem, yet the US is only willing to use even the “powerful means” of sanctions in a moderate fasion. An American source admitted that sanctions on Iran’s oil are not in the game. Whether because of genuine fears over a steep hike in oil prices, global economic implications or destabilization of the regional order to the point of major military flare-up, it appears that the US and European leaders have already internalized the dictum “better bomb than bombing.”
The highly plausible assessment among Western and Israeli military sources, whereby the air power available to the Americans in the Gulf can pulverize the Iranian nuke program, merely serves to highlight the flagrant failure of the West, under America’s leadership.
Alternative is worseEx-senior security officials, in close cooperation with some Israeli journalists, have made sure in the past few weeks to present those considering a military option against Iran as no less than mad and delusional. This was of course accompanied by an unfounded, imaginary apocalyptic description, among others by former Mossad Chief Meir Dagan, on what can be expected here should Israel, heaven forbid, decide to realize the military option – ranging from an all-out war against us and thousands of fatalities as result of Iranian missiles to a substantive threat to Israel’s very existence.
The growing effort in Israel to try to convince the locals that Iranian nuclear arms are not so terrible is a mirror image of the Western weakness in addressing the problem. Even though Israel’s intelligence arms are far from providing a full picture of Iran’s overall nuclear activity, and even though we know that most of the relevant targets are already deep underground, and even though the required approach is beyond the abilities of the Israeli Air Force – it appears that Israel cannot avoid the military option.
Israel cannot avoid it if only because the alternative of nuclear arms in the hands of Ali Khamenei and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is immeasurably worse than the attempt, even if limited in its influence, to harm the Iranian program and/or curb it, and even if this involves the risk of a regional flare-up and harsh blows to Israel’s home front.
Sadly, the response to nuclear madmen goes beyond computer warms (Stuxnet,) sanctions or limited explosions, even if the honorable gentlemen Meir Dagan and Co. tell us that this would be no less than madness incarnate.
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