Here’s a brief list of recent alarming headlines (with links to the articles on Haaretz online), beginning with this by the Meretz-supporting writer, David Grossman:
As Netanyahu pushes Israel closer to war with Iran, Israelis cannot keep silent
‘Why aren’t ministers and defense officials standing up right now, when it is still possible, and saying: We will not be a party to this megalomaniacal vision, to this messianic-catastrophic worldview?’
By Reuters and Haaretz | Aug. 03, 2012Ex-Mossad chief said what should be clear to everyone – Israel has never been so close to attacking Iran By Anshel Pfeffer | Aug. 03, 2012By Amos Harel | Aug. 03, 2012
By Barak Ravid | Aug. 03, 2012
As I’ve written previously, I fear both the consequences of Iran going nuclear and of Israel and/or the U.S. attacking Iran to prevent this eventuality. On balance, I remain opposed to an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, and hope against hope that diplomacy and sanctions may yet get Iran to allow effective international monitoring to insure against having it develop nuclear weapons. But I fully understand Israel’s alarm at what many or most Israelis believe is an existential threat. What the U.S. does overtly or covertly seems critical in this situation. The following is from an extensive interview with one who is of that opinion, an anonymous “engineer” described by Haaretz columnist Ari Shavit in his weekend magazine article as having “made a major contribution to Israel’s existence”:
‘Israel needs covert U.S. backing for any attack on Iran, warns this week’s interviewee, who remains unnamed.’
…. After sipping his coffee and nibbling at a pastry, the anonymous engineer tells me that …. “Iran’s nuclearization is unacceptable for three reasons. Firstly, a nuclear Iran will give Hezbollah and Hamas a nuclear umbrella that will embolden our enemies and encourage aggression, and lead to ongoing and intensive friction on Israel’s borders. Our lives will become a living hell.
“Secondly,” he adds, “a nuclear Iran could provide the terrorist organizations connected to it with dirty bombs that could contaminate extensive areas and water sources. This would be a disaster for Israel. Thirdly, a nuclear Iran would cause other states in the region to go nuclear and lead to an array of nuclear powers in the Middle East. This multipolar nuclear system will not be stable. It will create a new strategic situation that Israel will not be able to accept or live with.
“But on the other hand,” continues the anonymous engineer in a pensive tone, “Iran will soon go nuclear. From following the openly reported material, my professional estimation is that the Iranians are now less than a year away from the point of no return that will lead them to manufacture a first nuclear bomb. It’s very unlikely that the international sanctions will stop them within this period of time. It’s very unlikely that the cyber-warfare of which the Americans are so proud will stop them within this period of time. I don’t believe that an American president will order a strike on Iran just before or after an election.
“So the dilemma facing Israel in the short term is the dilemma that your column has focused on these past few months: [Iranian] bomb or [Israeli] bombing. And in grappling with this dilemma, the thing that tips the scale is the third point that I cited before: the danger of a nuclear Middle East.
“It’s possible that Israel can live with a nuclear Iran. In principle, it is possible. But can Israel exist with a number of nuclear superpowers in the Middle East? Can we exist within a multipolar nuclear system? I don’t think so. When I think about this scenario, I have a hard time sleeping at night.”
Devil in the details
“…. The attack on the nuclear facilities in Iran will be fateful. If it succeeds it will significantly set back the manufacture of the Iranian nuclear bomb and also enhance Israel’s deterrent capability. If it fails, god forbid, the reverberations of the failure could be catastrophic.
“So we have a supreme obligation to ensure that the chances of success are maximal and the chances of failure are minimal. In my opinion, to do this we need secret assistance from the Americans. Even if it’s a blue-and-white operation, we need to ensure that red-white-and-blue capabilities will be integrated in it. Just as the Americans have assisted in the past with all sorts of operations with various allies without publicly admitting it, the same thing will have to happen here. The Israeli attack must be backed up by quiet American support and American high tech that will ensure its success.”
There is no chance that what you describe will happen, I say to this man who has had experience dealing with the American strategic establishment in highly sensitive situations. U.S. President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu despise each other. Obama’s America is an America that has had enough of wars. The Americans will not risk being exposed as having helped the Zionists attack an Islamic republic. The scenario you paint is quite creative and elegant, but purely fanciful.
“The mode of action I’m recommending may sound improbable,” says the anonymous engineer who has done an improbable thing or two in his lifetime. “But I’m trying to calmly analyze the dilemma facing President Obama. On the one hand, he truly does not want to see a nuclear Iran. He understands that if Iran goes nuclear, he will bear the responsibility for it. On his watch the Middle East will go nuclear and the international regime limiting the proliferation of nuclear weapons will collapse. On the other hand, he does not want to attack Iran because it goes against his personal inclinations and his outlook on the world. He also cannot attack in the coming year because America will not go to war without a mandate from the UN, which cannot be obtained within the short time that is left.
“The only way out of this tough dilemma is covert American aid to Israel so that it can carry out a successful strike on Iran – one that the Americans can then denounce. If you add to that an Israeli peace initiative with the Palestinians, then Obama profits in three ways: He prevents Iran from going nuclear; he does not have to attack Iran; and he gets the peace process that he yearns for. And Israel also profits three ways: It increases the odds that this critical attack will succeed; it enhances the image of its deterrent power; and it creates for itself a political horizon.
“A successful strike would do much to shore up Israel’s strategic situation in an unstable Middle East. So if the decision makers in Washington and Jerusalem are wise and careful, they should arrive at the conclusion that the blue-white-and-red option is the best choice. Hidden cooperation between the U.S. and Israel on this fateful matter will serve the vital interests of both, as well as the interests of the moderate forces in the Middle East and of the enlightened forces in the world.”
Joint mode of action
…. “There is hardly any chance that the sanctions will work or the United States will take action within such a short time,” he continues. “But for the Israeli strike to be successful, it has to postpone Iran’s nuclearization by at least five years and it must be virtually immune to failure. Therefore, the rule of ‘For with wise advice thou shalt make thy war’ has to be adopted. The attack on Iran mustn’t be thought of as an expanded edition of the strike in Iraq in 1981. The risk must be reduced to the minimum.
“This critical operation must be a multistage operation in which the ones leading it have alternatives and guarantees in the event that the objective is not achieved with the first blow. For this, sophisticated American weaponry is required. For this to happen, the United States has to give us the weaponry, instruct us not to use it and condemn us after the fact for having used it.
“The possibility that an Israeli strike on Iran will fail disturbs me greatly. Even if the likelihood of failure is small, the implications of failure are very dramatic. Therefore the U.S. and Israel must rise above all their diplomatic disputes and personal tensions and work together. Only covert American support for the Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities will ensure its success and liberate us – and the world – from a nightmare.”