Bomb Bomb Iran
Monday, February 13, 2012 • 12:14pm
A bombing raid on Iran is becoming more likely every day. Amid an increasing number of articles about an attack on the Iranian nuclear facilities and television talk-shows featuring discussions on attacking Iran, I attended two presentations where speakers with diametrically opposing political views predicted that a raid is imminent.
The first speaker was Gershon Baskin, an American-born Israeli and self-described peace activist. He is an archetype “Israeli leftist” - the founder of a peace think-tank, a journalist for the Jerusalem Post newspaper, a commentator on Israeli radio, a man who knows Hamas and Fatah leaders by first name, and a key player in the agreement to free the captured Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit in return for more than 9,000 Palestinian Arab terrorists held in Israeli jails. The second presentation was given by Patrick Clawson of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a think-tank that supports the policies of the current, politically conservative Israeli government, led by Benjamin Netanyahu, who is definitely not a pacifist.
There were four, chillingly similar messages to both presentations that I will recount here. First, that President Obama and his administration have supported Israeli interests and supported preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons more vigorously than any recent presidential administration, including that of President George W. Bush. Both speakers said that military cooperation between the two countries has never been closer. I was immensely surprised by this observation because I have observed a growing dissatisfaction with the Obama policies toward Israel among all segments of the Jewish community, and reports from Israel indicate great suspicion among ordinary people, of Obama’s attitude toward Israel. To hear both speakers, one from the Israeli left, that typically supports Democratic politicians in the U.S., and another from the U.S. segment that tends to support Republican politicians, indicate support for Obama policies to pro-Israeli audiences, was extremely surprising.
The second message from both speakers is that sanctions are delaying Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear bomb, but ultimately will not prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power. The Washington Institute speaker said if Iran wants to build a crude nuclear weapon, it could do so in several months and Iran’s growing missile capability gives Iran a delivery system that could threaten the entire Mid East region and southern Europe. The sanctions may even hasten development of a bomb since Iran has seen, as has the rest of the world, that once a nation gets nuclear capability, it has greater power to influence how other nations treat with it.
The third message is that Israel will attack Iran’s nuclear facilities. There was no mitigation of this message. It was clearly and simply stated. The Washington Institute speaker even suggested that the timing of the attack would be shortly before crucial equipment is installed in caves beneath mountains in Iran. The timing is delicate because if the attackers wait too long, the results will have less impact. If they strike too soon, world criticism that Israel did not allow sanctions to work will be greater.
The last message from both speakers was that a strike will not destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities. It will delay Iran from becoming a nuclear power but not stop Iran forever. I found this prospect disturbing until the Washington Institute speaker explained that Israeli military doctrine is very different from U.S. military doctrine. When the U.S. goes to war, we expect to vanquish our enemies. The best example of this was the U.S. policy of “unconditional surrender” during World War II. The Israeli military uses a vernacular term to explain its doctrine. They expect to “mow the grass”. Israeli military leaders say, “The grass will not change and the grass will continue to grow” so a military strike is intended to reduce a current threat with the expectation that the threat will increase again sometime in the future, requiring a subsequent response.
The Washington Institute speaker said that the attack would likely be launched by Israeli jets, flying over Iraq, since Iraq currently has no anti-aircraft defenses. He also said that even though the attack would remove a threat to oil-producing nations like Saudi Arabia, they would publicly condemn the attack but privately be relieved by it.
When asked what the consequences to the region would be if Iran became a nuclear power, the Washington Institute speaker reported that a nuclear arms race among Arab states would ensue, so that each state could protect itself from the others. The result would be a replay of the Mutually Assured Destruction scenario that kept the world on the brink of nuclear destruction for close to a half-century during the post-World War II era.
Only time will tell if any or all of these predictions will come to pass. I am struck by the realization that the world continues to be a very dangerous place, with leaders who are willing to risk its destruction to implement their own dogma or to protect their countries from perceived threat. The Arab Spring, which brought such hope of a new, politically representative society in a traditionally bellicose region has deteriorated into civil wars, political strife, brutality as characterized by the beating of the “blue bra woman” in Egypt, enhanced threat of nuclear proliferation and potentially nuclear destruction.
I only hope that sanity prevails before the world is unwillingly drawn into a tragic set of circumstances by an unforeseen tragic event as happened with the militarization of Europe that led to World War I, a war that no one wanted, precipitated by a seemingly trivial event -- the assassination of a single leader. World War I lasted for years, killed millions, crippled many millions more and essentially achieved nothing. Let’s hope the current set of circumstances turns out more favorably for everyone.
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Henry Bassman has lived in Summit, NJ for 37 years, has been married for more than 40 years and has three daughters who graduated from Summit High School. Henry was a Captain in the U.S. Army, retired from AT&T where he wrote about high-technology science and engineering and is now affiliated with a small investment bank that specializes in biotechnology, medical devices and healthcare issues, about which he often writes. Articles by Henry can be seen on ABCNews.com and other business Web sites.
Henry Bassman has written about high-technology and medical technology (biotechnology, medical devices and healthcare issues) for more than 40 years. He retired from AT&T, served in the U.S. Army where he became a captain and worked for ABC News. He is now affiliated with a small investment bank. Articles by Henry can be seen on ABCNews.com and other business Web sites. Henry has lived in Summit, NJ for 37 years and has been married for more than 40 years. He has three daughters who graduated from Summit High School.
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