Tuesday, June 19, 2012
By Barry Rubin
"Hitler's primary task was to put himself over as a misunderstood moderate....Trotsky summed it up neatly: 'Anyone who expects to meet a lunatic brandishing a hatchet and instead finds a man hiding a revolver in his trouser-pocket is bound to feel relieved. But that doesn't prevent a revolver from being more dangerous than a hatchet.'"" --Joel Carmichael, Trotsky: An Appreciation of his Life, p. 396.
Months ago, when it was at its height, I wrote that the hysteria about Israel allegedly being about to attack Iran and the argument by some that Israel should do so were nonsense. Now it is clear that there was never any chance that such a thing would happen. And that idea was a bad one expressed by non-Israelis who didn't know what they were talking about.
Now former Mossad head Meir Dagan, identified, along with former Israel Security Agency director Yuval Diskin, as the main critic of any such preemptive attack, has made some interesting remarks.
Dagan explained that he agreed that the international community wasn't doing enough to stop the Iranian nuclear project. Israeli threats were made to prompt more action, not as a signal of an imminent attack.
While sanctions are high against Iran, the Obama Administration is also granting exemptions to key countries like China, Russia, and Turkey. While the burden on Iran's economy remains onerous, a regime like that in Tehran is not going to buckle to such pressure, especially since it believes that once it has nuclear weapons that will secure the government's safety from foreign threats. The ongoing negotiations,, which seem eternally able to trigger naive hopes in Western circles, will go nowhere.
For his part, Dagan correctly noted, "The military option must always be on the table with regards to Iran,but it must also always be a last option." Israel always retains such a choice even if Tehran does get some deliverable nuclear capability. And such an outcome is still years away. The idea of a crazy Iranian government eager to launch nuclear missiles against Israel at the first opportunity is not realistic, though the Tehran regime is bad enough. At any rate, if and when Iran actually has a small number of weapons and if Israeli leaders feel there is sufficient danger, they can preempt then. And a wide variety of Israeli defensive measures--ranging from sabotage to computer viruses, to electronic countermeasures and to planes and missiles--should not be underestimated either.
The Israeli position is clearly explained by President Shimon Peres in an interview:
"The problem is the following: If we would say only economic sanctions [will be imposed], then the Iranians will say, `Okay, we will wait until it will be over.' Now what the Americans and Europeans and Israelis are saying is, `If you won’t answer the economic challenge, all other options are on the table.' It will not end there. Without that, there is no chance that the sanctions will [work]....The Iranians must be convinced [the threat of a military attack] is not just a tactic."