The Winds of War

The winds of war are blowing. We can see the storm clouds, once distant and vague, darkening as they begin to color the sky. For years we’ve listened to voices from Iran – hateful, contemptuous, murderous – enunciate a determined policy to destroy the Jewish State and as many Jews as they can get their hands on. According to the ADL, President Ahmadinejad termed Zionists “the most detested people in all humanity” and called the extermination of six million Jews during World War II “a myth,” claiming that Jews have played up Nazi atrocities during the Holocaust in a bid to extort sympathy for Israel from European governments.
Of course we’ve survived all kinds of antisemitic rhetoric for the past 2000 years. Iranian antisemitism is neither more nor less virulent than any other form we’ve encountered. What can anyone say that hasn’t already been said by Haman?
The difference, the frightening new dimension to this ridiculous talk is that Iran is developing the capacity to create a nuclear weapon. This fact is as they call it, a game changer. And when we ask the all-important Jewish litmus test question, “Is it good for the Jews?,” the answer is unambiguously no.
What are we to do? What is the best course of action? These and other questions are no longer on a back burner. In capitals from Jerusalem to Washington to Teheran to Cairo to Moscow to Beijing to Paris and beyond, these questions are researched and evaluated. The answers aren’t going to be simply interesting – they will determine the future and possibly the survival of Israel.
In the upcoming New York Times Magazine, Ronen Bergman muses over 3 questions in a bluntly named article, “Will Israel Attack Iran?”:
1. Does Israel have the ability to cause severe damage to Iran’s nuclear sites and bring about a major delay in the Iranian nuclear project? And can the military and the Israeli people withstand the inevitable counterattack?
2. Does Israel have overt or tacit support, particularly from America, for carrying out an attack?
3. Have all other possibilities for the containment of Iran’s nuclear threat been exhausted, bringing Israel to the point of last resort? If so, is this the last opportunity for an attack?
These three questions are stark and unavoidable. As Iran gets closer to nuclear weapon capability, and as their rhetoric further encourages the rattling of Iranian sabers, the choices will grow more and more difficult. It’ also worth noting that there is no consensus, here or in Israel, about what to do. Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak both seem certain that an Israeli attack is inevitable. Yet a senior official from the Israeli Defense Department itself recently said, “I informed the cabinet we have no ability to hit the Iranian nuclear program in a meaningful way. If I get the order I will do it, but we don’t have the ability to hit in a meaningful way.”
Ronen concludes that, “Israel will indeed strike Iran in 2012. Perhaps in the small and ever-diminishing window that is left, the United States will choose to intervene after all, but here, from the Israeli perspective, there is not much hope for that. Instead there is that peculiar Israeli mixture of fear – rooted in the sense that Israel is dependent on the tacit support of other nations to survive – and tenacity, the fierce conviction, right or wrong, that only the Israelis can ultimately defend themselves.”
Matthew Kroenig, in Foreign Affairs, writes “Iran’s rapid nuclear development will ultimately force the United States to choose between a conventional conflict and a possible nuclear war. Faced with that decision, the United States should conduct a surgical strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, absorb an inevitable round of retaliation, and then seek to quickly de-escalate the crisis.”
Barry Rubin (pjmedia.com) writes, “But here’s what’s most likely going to happen: Iran will get nuclear weapons. Iran is not going to stop its nuclear drive (though it could stop short of actually building bombs or warheads ready to go). Western policies are not so bold or adventurous as to go to war; Israel’s interests and capabilities do not make attacking sensible. An attack would not solve but increase problems.
And no matter how crazy you think Iran’s regime is, the inescapable predicable threat is not high enough to force policymakers to risk getting hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of people killed, when the chance of avoiding such an outcome is very high. I am not talking here about Hezbollah firing a few rockets (Hamas might well do nothing) but a long term war that would guarantee the use of Iranian nuclear weapons.”
We all must do what we can to learn more about this issue that so closely affects Israel and the rest of the world too. There are those gung ho to bomb Teheran and others urging restraint and caution. All these voices must be heard.

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