It is no secret that the Pro-Israel lobby and its allies – the
(mostly Jewish) neo-cons and the Christian Zionists – are
A RESPECTED American paper posted a scoop this week: Vice-President Dick Cheney, the King of Hawks, has thought up a Machiavellian scheme for an attack on
Far-fetched? Not really. It is rather like what happened in 1956. Then
What would happen to us if we agreed to Cheney’s plan? Our pilots would risk their lives to bomb the heavily defended Iranian installations. Then, Iranian missiles would rain down on our cities. Hundreds, perhaps thousands would be killed. All this in order to supply the Americans with a pretext to go to war.
Would the pretext have stood up? In other words, is the
Is there any substance to this leak? Hard to know. But it strengthens the suspicion that an attack on
DO BUSH, Cheney & Co. indeed intend to attack
I don’t know, but my suspicion that they might is getting stronger.
Why? Because George Bush is nearing the end of his term of office. If it ends the way things look now, he will be remembered as a very bad – if not the worst – president in the annals of the republic. His term started with the
There is only one year left to do something impressive and save his name in the history books. In such situations, leaders tend to look for military adventures. Taking into account the man’s demonstrated character traits, the war option suddenly seems quite frightening.
True, the American army is pinned down in
But, quite possibly the war-mongers are whispering in Bush’s ear: What are you worrying about? No need for an invasion. Enough to bomb
That’s a tempting idea. The
WOULD THIS indeed be such an easy operation, a “piece of cake” in American parlance?
I doubt it.
Even “smart” bombs kill people. The Iranians are a proud, resolute and highly motivated people. They point out that for two thousand years they have never attacked another country, but during the eight years of the Iran-Iraq war they have amply proved their determination to defend their own when attacked.
Their first reaction to an American attack would be to close the Straits of Hormuz, the entrance to the Gulf. That would choke off a large part of the world’s oil supply and cause an unprecedented world-wide economic crisis. To open the straits (if this is at all possible), the US army would have to capture and hold large areas of Iranian territory.
The short and easy war would turn into a long and hard war. What does that mean for us in Israel?
There can be little doubt that if attacked, Iran will respond as it has promised: by bombarding us with the rockets it is preparing for this precise purpose. That will not endanger Israel’s existence, but it will not be pleasant either.
If the American attack turns into a long war of attrition, and if the American public comes to see it as a disaster (as is happening right now with the Iraqi adventure), some will surely put the blame on Israel. It is no secret that the Pro-Israel lobby and its allies – the (mostly Jewish) neo-cons and the Christian Zionists – are pushing America into this war, just as they pushed it into Iraq. For Israeli policy, the hoped-for gains of this war may turn into giant losses – not only for Israel, but also for the American Jewish community.
IF PRESIDENT Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did not exist, the Israeli government would have had to invent him.
He has got almost everything one could wish for in an enemy. He has a big mouth. He is a braggart. He enjoys causing scandals. He is a Holocaust denier. He prophesies that Israel will “vanish from the map” (though he did not say, as falsely reported, the he would wipe Israel off the map.)
This week, the pro-Israel lobby organized big demonstrations against his visit to New York. They were a huge success – for Ahmadinejad. He has realized his dream of becoming the center of world attention. He has been given the opportunity to voice his arguments against Israel — some outrageous, some valid — before a world-wide audience.
But Ahmadinejad is not Iran. True, he has won popular elections, but Iran is like the orthodox parties in Israel: it is not their politicians who count, but their rabbis. The Shiite religious leadership makes the decisions and commands the armed forces, and this body is neither boastful nor vociferous not scandal-mongering. It exercises a lot of caution.
If Iran was really so eager to obtain a nuclear bomb, it would have acted in utmost silence and kept as low a profile as possible (as Israel did). The swaggering of Ahmadinejad would hurt this effort more than any enemy of Iran could.
It is highly unpleasant to think about a nuclear bomb in Iranian hands (and, indeed, in any hands.) I hope it can be avoided by offering inducements and/or imposing sanctions. But even if this does not succeed, it would not be the end of the world, nor the end of Israel. In this area, more than in any other, Israel’s deterrent power is immense. Even Ahmadinejad will not risk an exchange of queens – the destruction of Iran for the destruction of Israel.
NAPOLEON SAID that to understand a country’s policy, one has only to look at the map.
If we do this, we shall see that there is no objective reason for war between Israel and Iran. On the contrary, for a long time it was believed in Jerusalem that the two countries were natural allies.
David Ben-Gurion advocated an “alliance of the periphery”. He was convinced that the entire Arab world is the natural enemy of Israel, and that, therefore, allies should be sought on the fringes of the Arab world – Turkey, Iran, Ethiopia, Chad etc. (He also looked for allies inside the Arab world – communities that are not Sunni-Arab, such as the Maronites, the Copts, the Kurds, the Shiites and others.)
At the time of the Shah, very close connections existed between Iran and Israel, some positive, some negative, some outright sinister. The Shah helped to build a pipeline from Eilat to Askelon, in order to transport Iranian oil to the Mediterranean, bypassing the Suez Canal. The Israel internal secret service (Shabak) trained its notorious Iranian counterpart (Savak). Israelis and Iranians acted together in Iraqi Kurdistan, helping the Kurds against their Sunni-Arab oppressors.
The Khomeini revolution did not, in the beginning, put an end to this alliance, it only drove it underground. During the Iran-Iraq war, Israel supplied Iran with arms, on the assumption that anyone fighting Arabs is our friend. At the same time, the Americans supplied arms to Saddam Hussein – one of the rare instances of a clear divergence between Washington and Jerusalem. This was bridged in the Iran-Contra Affair, when the Americans helped Israel to sell arms to the Ayatollahs.
Today, an ideological struggle is raging between the two countries, but it is mainly fought out on the rhetorical and demagogical level. I dare to say that Ahmadinejad doesn’t give a fig for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he only uses it to make friends in the Arab world. If I were a Palestinian, I would not rely on it. Sooner or later, geography will tell and Israeli-Iranian relations will return to what they were – hopefully on a far more positive basis.
ONE THING I am ready to predict with confidence: whoever pushes for war against Iran will come to regret it.
Some adventures are easy to get into but hard to get out of.
The last one to find this out was Saddam Hussein. He thought that it would be a cakewalk – after all, Khomeini had killed off most of the officers, and especially the pilots, of the Shah’s military. He believed that one quick Iraqi blow would be enough to bring about the collapse of Iran. He had eight long years of war to regret it.
Both the Americans and we may soon be feeling that the Iraqi mud is like whipped cream compared to the Iranian quagmire.