Israel and Iran

Earlier today, Israeli officials implicitly threatened to attack Iran militarily if the Islamic Republic does not abandon its nuclear weapons program.

During a news conference with US Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Israelie Defense Minister Ehud Barak said “We clearly believe that no option should be removed from the table.  This is our policy.  We mean it.  We recommend to others to take the same position, but we cannot dictate it to anyone.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took a similar line.

According to an official press release from his office, the prime minister, during a meeting with Gates, “reiterated the seriousness which Israel views Iran’s nuclear ambitions and the need to utilize all available means to prevent Iran from achieving a nuclear capability.”

The Obama administration, like all American administrations during foreign policy crises, says that all options are on the table, including military action.  But the US appears prepared to press for further economic sanctions against Iran if that nation develops the Bomb rather than a military response. 

Washington seems to have realized that striking Iran would be counterproductive in terms of promoting American interests in the region, including efforts to reach a peace accord between Israel and its Arab neighbors, especially the Palestinians. 

The Israeli government apparently takes a different view, if the statements made by Israeli officials truly reflect their opinions.  If that is the case, it would be unfortunate because Israel need not destroy Iranian nuclear sites to protect itself; Israel’s nuclear arsenal will be a sufficient deterrent against Iran launching a nuclear attack.  It is true that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has made inflammatory statements regarding Israel such as saying Israel should be “wiped off the map,” but other leaders during the atomic age have made similar threats, such as Soviet Premier Nikita Khruschev’s telling the US “We will bury you,” without following through on them.  Iranian leaders may be anti-Semetic, but they are not suicidal.  As much as they may hate Israel, they do not hate it enough to risk the annihilation of themselves and their people.  Hopefully, Israeli leaders will realize that deterrence still works before launching a foolhardy bombing campaign in a futile effort to put an end to Iran’s nuclear program.

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