Thursday, November 2

Iran: The Prophet Motive (UPDATED)

From Amnon Rubinstein:
There is one advantage to President Ahmadinejad's latest outburst at the University of Tehran: It removes the fog of misinformation and misunderstanding surrounding the major issue of the Middle East — the survival of the Jewish state. That issue, or rather the Arab and Muslim opposition to Israel's existence, has not really disappeared since 1948, when the Arabs sought to annihilate the fledgling state.

Mr. Ahmadinejad does not joke. He has the means to carry out his threat: Iran already has substantial missile capabilities and will soon have, unless forcibly stopped, nuclear arms. Israel is not only tiny — a speck on the map of the Middle East — but it is totally unprepared for such a destructive blow. It has no shelters suitable to withstand a nuclear bombardment, it has no alternative sites to which people can retreat while awaiting cleanup of contaminated areas, and it has no operative anti-missile defense system. Retaliation and the balance of terror that saved the world from nuclear Armageddon during the Cold War may not be sufficient to deter a fanatical regime that regards "wiping Israel off the map" as a divine duty necessary for ushering in a new, blissful Islamic era.

Daniel Pipes adds:
This key decision – war or acquiescence – will take place in Washington, not in New York, Vienna, or Tehran. (Or Tel Aviv.) The critical moment will arrive when the president of the United States confronts the choice whether or not to permit the Islamic Republic of Iran to acquire the Bomb. The timetable of the Iranian nuclear program being murky, that might be either George W. Bush or his successor.

It will be a remarkable moment. The United States glories in the full flower of public opinion with regard to taxes, schools, and property zoning. Activists organize voluntary associations, citizens turn up at town hall meetings, associations lobby elected representatives.

But when it comes to the fateful decision of going to war, the American apparatus of participation fades away, leaving the president on his own to make this difficult call, driven by his temperament, inspired by his vision, surrounded only by a close circle of advisors, insulated from the vicissitudes of politics. His decision will be so intensely personal, which way he will go depends mostly on his character and psychology.

Read them both. What they have to say is important, and well spoken; the choices grow starker by the day.

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