Israeli media is buzzing with talk of an imminent IAF strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, and in many cases, is voicing strong opposition to military action. Arguments against a strike from major Hebrew publications point to perceived Israeli weakness, including the charges that Israel isn’t prepared for this military conflict, and that the price of war would be too dear.
The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, who has been described as “the most influential journalist/blogger on matters related to Israel”, weighed in on the subject, listing “7 Reasons Why Israel Should Not Attack Iran’s Nuclear Facilities.” Bizarrely at his bottom line, he is concerned “that an Israeli attack would inadvertently create conditions for an acceleration of the Iranian nuclear program.” This is an unlikely outcome even as a worst case scenario. In his argument he simultaneously undermines the strength and preparedness of the IDF, the global interest in halting Iranian nuclear progress, the American public’s support for the Jewish state, and the will of the Iranian people to overthrow their oppressive masters. Goldberg has come a long way since 2002, when he wrote that “the coming invasion of Iraq will be remembered as an act of profound morality.”
In passing, Goldberg cites the risk of weakening international sanctions as one of his reasons for Israel not to strike Iran. He fails however to make the possibility of their success a central theme of his case. I have therefore assumed that he is in agreement with U.S. and Israeli officials that the current sanctions program has not affected Iran’s nuclear ambitions at all.
In response to Goldberg’s list, below I offer 7 Reasons why Israel should neutralize the Iranian threat today. Each argument is presented as a direct reply to the items he has listed that can be read on The Altantic’s website.
1. The only possible justification for jeopardizing the lives of innocents, whether soldiers, first responders or even civilians is in the interest of guaranteeing prevention of future devastation and loss of life that is far greater. What a nuclear Iran promises is nothing short of an atomic holocaust and possibly a third world war such as has never been seen before. The equation here couldn’t be more straightforward, considering the alternative; the world has no choice.
2. Whilst there are significant risks involved in an Israeli strike on Iran, and each scenario presents its own challenges, Israel has a near perfect track record of success in pre-emptive air force missions. The most notable of which include, the Six Day War, Operation Entebbe, Operation Opera (the bombing of the Iraqi Osirak reactor), and Operation Orchard (the destruction of Syria’s nuclear plant).
3. In the event that an Israeli strike only delays Iran’s ambitions, the growing economic and military cost brought upon the country by the belligerence of the Ayatollahs could inspire the revitalization of the green revolution. Ordinary Iranians understand that their isolation is a result of their leaders’ recalcitrance and may seize the opportunity to rise up from within.
World powers all have an interest in keeping Iran in check, and whilst they may publicly berate Israel, in practice they are unlikely to withdraw their own efforts to this end.
4. Sunni Arabs and others that are among those that stand to benefit greatly from the halting of the nuclear program would be empowered by Iran’s weakening, especially in their battle against Assad in Syria whose maniacal regime is practically propped up by the Iranians. In 2010, Reuters reported that Saudi Arabia “repeatedly exhorted the United States to cut off the head of the snake by launching military strikes to destroy Iran’s nuclear program, according to leaked U.S. diplomatic cables,” made public by Wikileaks. In private, Arab leaders throughout the Middle East would be eternally grateful, further turning on Iran and its Shiite allies.
5. By accelerating the inevitable confrontation between the West and Iran, Israel would be forcing the struggle to play out when the stakes are at their lowest. Any action initiated once Iran is nuclear, risks greater loss of life. Additionally, Israel is able to take advantage of the ‘surprise element’ factor.
6. It is highly unlikely that Iran would retaliate against American targets, especially if the United States continues to publicly distance itself from Israeli actions. The Iranians understand that drawing America into a potential conflict would spell their imminent demise.
Americans overwhelmingly support Israel and recognize that the Iranian threat affects their interests as well. In a March 13th 2012 Reuters poll, a majority of U.S. citizens backed a U.S. strike on the Iranian nuclear program by a margin of 56% – 39%, and they will be most grateful that Israel is doing the bulk of the work, even if it means dealing with Iranian blow-back.
President Obama’s reluctance is a factor of concern to Netanyahu, but all the more reason to take action now. With the American public behind the Israelis, if Obama dithered in backing up the Jewish state when push came to shove, he would be sealing his own political demise. If re-elected after his upcoming election, there is no telling how he might respond.
7. The current American President hasn’t done nearly enough to assuage the concerns of the Israelis and prove his seriousness about preventing Iran from going nuclear. He hasn’t clarified his red lines or deadlines, has allowed exemptions from sanctions to various countries and has obliged the luxuriating positions of Iran’s negotiators. He has shown himself to practice the realpolitik diplomacy of Henry Kissinger that speaks to interests over morals, casting aside time honored allegiances in favor of immediate diplomatic gain. As such Israel’s simply can’t risk entrusting the fate of its citizens into his hands.
The situation we find ourselves in at present is by no means pleasant and has only been furthered by the short sighted freak-show of stumbling buffoonery that makes up much of the leadership of the world’s global powers today. All the more reason for clear minded visionaries to take bold, well considered actions.
In the meantime, Americans like Jeffrey Goldberg should stay their tongues, lay down their pens, and bow their heads in humble awe of the sacrifice pledged by IDF servicemen, their families and the nation of Israel, which once again offers the blood of its youth in the service of world peace, asking for nothing in return.