Sever Plocker

Third alternative to Iran crisis

Op-ed: Netanyahu, Barak may lead Israel to lengthy war of attrition that will not prevent nuclear Iran

Both the proponents and opposers of an Israeli strike in Iran are avoiding the difficult questions. The opposers cringe upon hearing the question "Are you willing to accept an Iranian nuclear bomb?" That's not a question, they reply, the question is whether we can depend on the US or only on ourselves. Those who are in favor of attacking recoil upon hearing the question, "Are you prepared for a 30-year war with Iran?" That's not the question, they explain, the question is whether we should give up on our deterrence.


Obviously it would be preferable to launch a joint attack with the US and maintain Israel's deterrence – perhaps even strengthen it. Easy questions always have easy answers, but the difficult questions don't.


Most of the people who support an attack contend that the Islamic Republic is no more than a paper tiger, so a military operation would damage it to such an extent that it would never confront Israel again. They say the war would be over within four weeks. But what if it doesn't? The proponents have no choice but to admit that in order to destroy Iran's military nuclear capability they are willing to accept a missile war that will span decades.


The opposers are counting on the fall of the regime in Tehran, economic collapse, electronic sabotage, credible American threats and other developments that, according to them, will prevent a nuclear Iran. And what if Iran does build a nuclear bomb? The opposers say they are willing to live with a nuclear Iran if it means that a lengthy conflict will be avoided.


Nuclear Iran preferable?

A senior IDF commander told me, "I am against the military option, so I suppose Israel will have to accept a nuclear bomb in the hands of the fanatical regime in Tehran. It would not pose an existential threat to Israel." I was shocked. Until that conversation I had no idea there were senior army officials who believe that accepting a nuclear Iran is preferable to launching a military operation. On the other hand, a former prime minister once told me, "I play poker with the entire world for as long as I can, but I know that one day I may have to reveal my cards and decide to attack. I will do this out of historic obligation. No Israeli prime minister will ever allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons under his or her watch."


The choice between the two alternatives is extremely difficult. But lately a third alternative has emerged from the offices of Netanyahu and Barak: Risking a lengthy war of attrition with Iran without stopping it from developing nuclear weapons, and damaging our special bond with the US while also losing our deterrence power on the Iranian front.


We've reached the point where former Military Intelligence chief Amos Yadlin publishes an opinion piece in The Washington Post in which he urges Obama to address the Knesset in order to prevent an Israeli strike in Iran. Obama is being asked to touch the hearts of the Israeli people, just as slain Egyptian president Anwar Sadat did in his historic address to the Knesset in 1977, before the peace treaty was signed. And if, after all of Netanyahu and Barak's statements, we don’t bomb Iran's nuclear facilities in exchange for Obama's speech, Israel will be seen as a weak and submissive state that leaves its fate in the hands of foreign countries.


And many thanks to Bibi and Barak for putting us in this situation.



פרסום ראשון: 08.22.12, 17:52
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