Over the past two weeks, there has been a non-stop dialogue going on in the press about a possible Israeli mission to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Everyone knows the logic. Iran having a nuclear bomb capability would be a threat to the entire region, and given its president’s stated desire to see Israel wiped off the map, should it develop such a weapon, we here in Israel will be the bomb’s target.
No doubt such an event would be a bad thing for the entire world if Iran successfully developed a nuclear weapon. We are not dealing here with the classic Cold War case of the United States and the Soviet Union, where both parties knew well that neither ever wanted to use that capability, even though both possessed it. There was logic at play among two sworn enemies, for example, that prevented the “eyeball to eyeball” confrontation that was the Cuban missile crisis from escalating into nuclear war. In the case of Iran, whose diplomacy is driven somewhat by the religious fanaticism of Islamic fundamentalism, one cannot assume that diplomatic logic will hold sway.
Israel, of course, has the military capability of exercising a first strike on much of Iran’s nuclear production facilities, but, according to informed sources here, that would only delay Iran’s development by four years, not eliminate it. Under such circumstance, we must ask: Would the risk be worth it? I think not. Iran would immediately respond to any attack with whatever firepower it had and, most likely, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza would join the fray. By some estimates, there are upwards of 100,000 missiles aimed at Israel from these two locations as I write this.
Even if those numbers are exaggerated, the casualty count in Israel as a result of the response to such an attack would, I fear, be much more than our emergency services could handle, and the country could very well slip into chaos. Do we really want to unleash such forces against us merely to delay by four years Iran’s nuclear development? Does that make sense?
Perhaps the fear of an Iranian attack on Israel even if it has nuclear weapons is unrealistic in the first place. The Iranian leadership may be fervently religious, but no one credits it for being either stupid or unrealistic. Iran’s leaders know that an attack by Iran against Israel would unleash both Israel’s formidable military response and a likely response from the United States, which is pledged to defend Israel in the case of such an attack. Logic dictates that even in the face of Islamist fundamentalism, the leadership of Iran will not choose to launch such an attack, given the obvious and predictable circumstances that will follow.
This reasoning would lead any sane Israeli leader to the conclusion that an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities is not in the best interests of the future of Israel. They should further conclude that the best defense against Iran is to make certain that the country’s military machine has the capability to strike back, and strike back hard should Iran attack.
Any other strategy at this point in time would be nothing less than lunacy on the part of Israel’s government. The saber-rattling should stop, and quickly, because contemplating the fallout from such an attack on its part could mean the end of the enterprise called Israel as we know it.