Op-Ed: Israel and Iran: To Strike or Not to Strike
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"To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing end them."
– Shakespeare's Hamlet
D-Day is approaching for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's desire to rid Iran of its developing, nuclear capabilities. Even the United States, it seems, understands this.
Recently, US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Martin Dempsey stated that Israelis "are living with an existential concern that we are not living with." Indeed, if Iran's nuclear weapons become operational, the people of Israel could very well cease to exist.
For Israel's leaders, assuring the survival its citizens is not their option; it is their duty.
Military analysts predict a nuclear ballistic missile can be launched from Iran and reach Tel Aviv in eight minutes. An eight-minute warning. Imagine the panic. It's not enough time to run from a nuke. Most bomb shelters and gas masks would be worthless.
Fallout from a single, 1 megaton surface blast would kill every living thing inside a 90 mile/145 km radius. The environment within a 160 mile/257 km radius would be poisoned for at least a decade. Firestorms would erupt that could not be extinguished. Imagine the carnage from multiple warheads.
Would Iran really launch such a weapon? Wrap your mind around these words delivered by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Israel's milestone, 60th birthday in 2008:
"Those who think they can revive the stinking corpse of the usurping and fake Israeli regime by throwing a birthday party are seriously mistaken. Today, the reason for the Zionist regime's existence is questioned, and this regime is on its way to annihilation. They should know that regional nations hate this fake and criminal regime and if the smallest and briefest chance is given to regional nations they will destroy it."
Two weeks ago Friday, Ahmadinejad reaffirmed his intentions in a televised speech he gave in Teheran marking Quds Day, the annual protest against the Jewish presence in Jerusalem which is held on the last Friday of Ramadan.
He said, "The nations of the region will soon finish off the usurper Zionists [Israel] in the Palestinian land. A new Middle East will definitely be formed. With the grace of God and help of the nations, in the new Middle East there will be no trace of the Americans and Zionists."
For its part, America still purports that international sanctions will somehow keep Iran's resolve in check. It's an old theory. America has been imposing sanctions against Iran since 1979.
The sanctions against Iran's nuclear ambitions began in 2006. Six years of sanctions yielded no results.
In fact, the sanctions have harmed bystander nations, strengthened Iran, and proved to be a lame substitute for American military action.
Harsher US-orchestrated sanctions against imports of Iranian oil were imposed this summer. As a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) cartel, Iran is second only to Saudi Arabia in oil exports. In the effort to curtail Iran, the sanctions penalized countries whose economies depend upon vital Iranian oil imports, e.g., Greece, China, Japan, India, South Korea, Italy, Turkey, Spain, Taiwan, Sri Lanka, and South Africa.
In a hasty retreat, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, acting as gofer girl for US President Obama, went globe trotting with sanction waivers and handed them out as if candy to children. The BBC reports that all 20 of Iran's major oil buyers were exempted from sanctions before they even came into effect in late June. Iran must be enjoying this ludicrous show of American force.
Financial sanctions in the form of cancelling Iran's use of the SWIFT international electronic transfer system have failed to fully materialize. Anyway, money, it appears, can easily be laundered for the right price. Money is fungible. So is oil. In fact, oil is not just a fungible commodity – oil, in higher demand than gold, is money.
Iranian assets in known oil reserves at today's rate of the dollar roughly equal the amount of the US national debt – about $16 trillion. The nations of the world are increasingly reluctant to accept financial directives from the world's greatest debtor nation, from a nation that has to borrow money to buy bullets for its own soldiers' guns and to pay old-age benefits due to its elderly.
In mid-June, Mrs. Clinton stated that oil sanctions were a "decisive message to Iran's leaders" and that Iran would "continue to face increasing isolation." Just the opposite has happened.
In an effort to continue its oil exports, Iran has strengthened ties with China (holder of 26% of US debt securities held by foreign governments) and other countries – nations all to willing to assist Iran and continue their supply of Iranian oil. Actual assistance has included hard cash investment in Iranian oil production, reflagging Iranian oil tankers, and providing necessary maritime insurance. And major world banks, including those on US and UK soil, have been all too happy to assist Iran in its financial transactions.
But the supreme evidence that Iran's world position is far from isolation is the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit meeting which took place in Teheran. Founded in 1961, NAM has 120 members and represents over 55% of the world's population. Even Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi attended, breaking a taboo that has isolated Egypt since the 1979 signing of its peace treaty with Israel. Despite US objections, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon attended as well, his criticism of Iran failing to ameliorate the fact that he went to Tehran. .
Did you notice that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's threats of annihilation against Israel are delivered as a spokesperson for "regional nations?" What is he talking about? After the NAM summit, Iran will rise to the position of head of the group for a three-year reign.
America can continue to contend that "our [US and Israel] clocks are ticking at different paces," as Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey said on Sunday in Afghanistan, shortly before his empty plane was rocket-bombed by terrorists there.
But there is only one Iranian clock ticking. It is a time bomb. And it is a nuclear bomb.
Every threat made against Israel by the Iranian regime is coupled with a threat against the United States of America. If Iran's ICBMs cannot reach American soil, there are nuclear bombs that can be carried in a suitcase or a backpack.
Will an Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear facilities trigger a war? Maybe. But Israel expects conventional attacks. If that were not the case, the Israel Defense Forces would not be planning and rehearsing day in and day out, year in and year out. Conventional war at some date is inevitable.
But let it be remembered that in Israel's last, major regional confrontation in 1973, there was not a single civilian casualty.
In a nuclear attack, that will not be the case. And that must give us pause.
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