carnegie logo

Babylon & Beyond

Observations from Iraq, Iran,
Israel, the Arab world and beyond

« Previous | Babylon & Beyond Home | Next »

IRAN: New Israeli government reignites war talk

Iran-nuclear2 After dying down for a few months amid U.S. elections, rumors of an impending Israeli war against Iran's nuclear facilities have resurfaced again, and with a vengeance.

On Sunday, Israeli President Shimon Peres  seemingly threatened military action against Iran if President Obama's diplomatic efforts to prevent Iran from going nuclear failed. 

If Obama's proposal of talks don't change Iran's approach, "we'll strike him," he said, referring to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, according to reports citing an Israeli radio interview.

Iran has long denied it is seeking nuclear weapons and insists its drive toward mastering the production of nuclear fuel is aimed at advancing the country's industrial and technological capacity. The U.S., Israel and Western European powers are highly suspicious of the nuclear program. 

The Bush administration dangled the prospect of preemptive war against Iran to prevent it from gaining access to nuclear weapons technology, talk that died down in the final year of the presidency.

The latest round of war talk began with the ascent of the conservative Likud-led government in Israel. In an oft-cited interview, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Jeffrey Goldberg, a former prison guard for the Israel Defense Forces, that Israel would attack Iran to prevent it from obtaining nuclear weapons if the U.S. didn't.

In a thoughtful and critical piece in the online magazine Slate, writer David Samuels argues that Israel will attack Iran to prevent it from becoming a regional hegemon that could supplant the Jewish state's cozy status as America's No. 1 Middle East enforcer. 

"The key fact of the American-Israeli alliance that most commentators seem eager to elide is that Israel is America's leading ally in the Middle East because it is the most powerful country in the Middle East," Samuels writes. "An attack on Iran might be risky in dozens of ways, but it would certainly do wonders for restoring Israel's capacity for game-changing military action."

But what about the day after the attack? Samuels believes that Israel could in one fell swoop attack Iran's nuclear and economic infrastructure and turn Iran into "a paper tiger" that would be trying to rebuild for decades. 

Samuels hasn't spent a lot of time in Iran lately. Iran isn't Iraq, which was battered by 12 years of sanctions before the U.S.-led invasion. Since the 1988 end of the Iran-Iraq war, it has become a minor industrial power in its own right, producing hundreds of thousands of motor vehicles a year

It's also a large nation with a relatively educated population of more than 70 million. It could rebuild both its damaged nuclear and oil infrastructure in a reasonable amount of time, just as it managed to do during and immediately after its eight-war with Iraq, analysts say. 

In fact, many Iran analysts speculate that Iran has already factored in an Israeli or U.S. attack on its nuclear facilities and created an alternate clandestine program somewhere. 

Indeed, while arms inspectors have access to Iran's known nuclear sites, they complain they are not able to visit the factories where such sensitive items as uranium-enriching centrifuges are made. Intelligence on how many centrifuges Iran has  produced and where they are is scant.  

Also left unclarified in all the war talk is when would Iran cross the red line that would trigger an attack? Is  Iran obtaining nuclear weapons capability? According to some experts, Iran already has the technical know-how to build a nuclear weapon within a few years. 

Iran has also already mastered the enrichment of uranium. Scientists say Iran's supply of low-enriched uranium is already theoretically enough to build a bomb, if Iran were to further refine its supply in a move that would be a clear violation of Tehran's treaty obligations and trigger all sorts of alarm bells.

Most experts believe Iran won't make such a move. 

There's also the question of what the U.S. would do. Reports emerged last year that even President Bush refused to sell Israel weapons it wanted for a possible strike against Iran and dispatched Adm. Michael G. Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to tell Israel to hold off on any possible attacks.

The U.S. knows that in response to an Israeli attack, Iran and its allies could wage serious asymmetrical warfare against U.S. military personnel and interests in the Middle East and South Asia, including in Iraq, Afghanistan and the oil-rich Persian Gulf, triggering a whole series of unintended consequences and costs, with American troops and consumers likely picking up the tab.

Peres also admitted that Israel could not carry out a strike against Iran without America's OK.

"We certainly cannot go it alone, without the U.S.," he said. "And we definitely can't go against the U.S." 

— Borzou Daragahi in Beirut

Photo: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad unveils domestically manufactured fuel rods at a fuel manufacturing plant during its inauguration ceremony in the central province of Esfahan last week. Credit: Atta Kenare  / AFP/Getty Images

Comments () | Archives (15)

It appears some may have been confused by my post. To clear things up, let me say I agree with Kathleen 100%.

Iran's leaders say they would negotiate to achieve a nuclear-free Middle East. How does Israel feel about that?
The real problem here is how the United States came to be so in thrall to the racist, violent and oil-free nation of Israel. And further, how can we extract ourselves?

Blah blah blah Iran will get bombed back to the stone age, just like lebanon and gaza. Accept it and move on. Oh, and btw, there may be some drones involved.

Definitely, Iran has the right to defense itself, including to strike back. Israel would have initiated the war.

As far as I know, the only nation in the Middle East specifically threatened with annihilation and extinction is Israel. The wars in the MIddle East since Israel's birth weren't about soccer. They are outnumbered by many orders of magnitude and the relative wealth of Israel versus the oil barons is miniscule. If they don't prevent the Muslim nations in the Middle East from acquiring nuclear weapons, Israel will die. It is as simple as that. I don't think Israel is suicidal nor should they be, despite all the encouragement to that end by the left.

May be Israel can bomb Iran but Iran is the one who will come out of that event the strategic winner.

The fact that Israelis are too stupid to understand this may lead to them taking action, as they did in Lebanon. This time their action will go a long way to help Iran seal its position as the leader of Islamic world.

So Mr. Peres, please feel free to attack anytime you want.

Iran, by its own efforts, and gifts bestowed by bone-headed Western and Israeli policies has emerged as the key to whole set of geo-strategic problems no just in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also to all the states to its north, and south, and now Pakistan.

Even with the Israel-Palestine conflict, Iran holds significant cards. In all of this, Iran is a key, while Israel has less than zero value.

Is it surprising if in a state of panic at the prospects of losing all strategic relevance, Israel and her supporters indulge in increasingly mad rants?

So, please repeat after me (until you believe it):

Iran has " "bad leaders". Specifically, that they are a violent and warlike state run by a religious fundamentalist and a holocaust denying 'crazy man'."

Only country ever to detonate nuclear weapons: USA. Not once, but twice. Perhaps they didn't see the devastation it wrought in Hiroshima instantaneously?
Known stockpile of US nuclear warheads: Over 5,000.
Estimated stockpile of Israeli nuclear warheads: Over 100.
The Non-Proliferation Treaty was originally designed not only so that countries not possessing nuclear weapons would not start a development program, but also so that those countries already possessing nuclear weapons would engage in fervent talks aimed at reducing and eventually eliminating all nuclear weapons to make the world a safer place for everyone. This has not happened, evident in the massive stockpiles, some of which I have outlined above. The US remains the biggest hypocrite in political circles, and will continue to be so until Obama comes good with his talk of eliminating stockpiles.
Contrary to what one reader suggests above, in my opinion George W. Bush was a "crazy man" intent on belligerence for personal gain. Would that then give other nations the right to invade the US for the purpose of ridding the world of this warmongerer, and at the same time, obliterating its stock of weapons of mass destruction, which in this case, are known 100% to exist? Of course this would not be tolerated. Why? Because the US is a Western nation with a seemingly higher moral standing. I don't know where this false and misleading concept has arisen from, but it needs to be elminated once and for all.

George Washington on Israel

“A passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification.” ~George Washington, ~page 269 of The 5000 Year Leap.

“The nation which indulges toward another habitual hatred or habitual fondness is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interests." ~ George Washington

"Peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations; entangling alliances with none." ~ Thomas Jefferson

Israel doesn't have the capability of eliminating Iran's nuclear program with conventional weapons. A conventional attack would just be countered with a massive missle strike from Iran and a prolonged state of war between the two countries. The Israeli government will strike with nuclear weapons at multiple sites in Iran to eliminate that possibility.

Sean K spoke truth to power. Bravo!

Obama needs to tell the Israelis that we are adamantly opposed to such a strike, and if they proceed anyway, they are on their own. We could also threaten to cut off our generous aid, but I don't think that could get by AIPAC.

If Israel does this strike, I think we'll see a tremendous oil price spike, we is certainly something we don't need during this recession/depression.

If Israel thinks Iran's possession of nuclear weapons is an existential threat, welcome to the real world. MAD (Mutual Assured Destruction) has been the status quo between the US and the former Soviet Union since the 1950s.

I wish to see the day when the state of Israel gets its little zionist ass kicked. They are racist colonialists who tire the world about the holocaust, when they are committing similar atrocities in Palestine. Sooner or later they will bite more than they can chew and get destroyed by a better foe. I hope to see that day and when it does occur It will be wonderfull and rosy. Anything I can do to contribute to it, I am available.

I have grave doubts that Iran, under any knucklehead, even one like bush, would risk turning that nation, into a wasteland of irradiated glass and ash. We, thru the old regime of the Shah and Savak (secret police, just as evil as the Stazi, Gestapo, and KGB), never did the Iranians ANY favors, just like our stupidity in post WWII Vietnam. We need 'evil' so as to justify the obscenities of the military-industrial complex. For many, war IS PROFIT! And if you can't have a war, PREPARE for one, or two, or.......

So the moral argument against Iran having nuclear capability, as I see it, rests on the notion that they have "bad leaders". Specifically, that they are a violent and warlike state run by a religious fundamentalist and a holocaust denying 'crazy man'. I agree 100% with those claims, as I think almost everyone in the western world would. But the problem is this: both Israel and the United States, by electing violent and warlike leaders who are religious fundamentalists and crazy men themselves, and ALREADY possess nuclear WEAPONS have lost any moral high ground, and have unfortunately become hypocrites in this situation.

Indeed, I have had the pleasure of studying the Persians history and its current social norms.
The Persians are reasonable and are a educated young nation.
They deserve the right to advance within soceity and to subsidise its peoples well being.


Recommended on Facebook


In Case You Missed It...

Recent News
Introducing World Now |  September 23, 2011, 8:48 am »



About the Contributors