DarthMarley, on 03 March 2012 - 01:18 PM, said:
If the Iranian A-Bomb is an "existential threat" then polls about what the Israeli populace support doesn't matter as much as making the correct decision.
Some reports from Israelis with deep military connections opposes a unilateral attack because they don't really have the resources to make it effective enough, and be able to defend the war that likely hits them from all sides after such an attack.
There are good reasons to oppose such military actions apart from anti-Israeli sentiment, or general aversion to military conflict.
I agree that it's more important to do the right thing than the popular thing vis-a-vis Iran, as the drumbeat to go to war may over the next few months may make that a particularly popular option despite the fact that war is highly unlikely to solve the problem.
I'm sure I posted the link to this excellent article that appeared recently in the New York Times magazine, but can't remember if you and I actually discussed it: http://www.nytimes.c...ewanted=all
The piece contains a good rundown of all the pro/con on this, and includes a fascinating peek inside the highest precincts of the Israeli defense and intelligence apparatuses, where many more people than you'd think from listening to Netanyahu and Peres seem vehemently opposed to the idea. Not because they're doves, obviously, but because as you say, there are some very, very good reasons to oppose it.
For one thing, the consensus seems to be that even the most successful, sustained attacks -- using the infamous American 30,000lb bunker buster bombs -- would only delay, not prevent, Iran from building a nuclear weapon.
Which means that everyone involved knows it's not a question of if, but when.
Iran will eventually get the bomb, and that's a fact.
It's a depressing thought, but there we are. If we attack, they may be delayed a few more years, but as the Times piece makes clear, even that conclusion may represent wishful thinking. Because of the diffuse nature of the Iranian nuclear sites, some experts believe that even in success the setback may be only months, not years.
So let's soberly contemplate a nuclear Iran for a minute here.
Would a nuclear Iran really be an existential threat to the US? Answer: no. At least not in the traditional sense, as they don't have the ballistic missile technology to deliver a warhead to North America, and won't have it for decades. And hold on, I'll talk terrorism and proliferation down below, but first: is an Iranian nuke an existential threat to Israel? Sure, yes, but -- and this is a critical "but" -- no more than Soviet nukes were an existential threat to the United States and Western Europe.
Yet we survived the Cold War.
Because the doctrine of nuclear deterrence works. Mutually assured destruction is an incredibly powerful incentive to behave rationally, and just as it applied to the Soviets at the height of the Cold War, just as it applies to Pakistan in its relations with India *and* the US, it will apply to a nuclear armed Iran.
Even if we're talking about the possibility of an Iranian nuke ending up in the hands of a terrorist organization -- a threat Obama called "profound" this week -- we should remember that nukes leave footprints, so if (god forbid) an Iranian nuke went off anywhere in the world, it could and would be conclusively tied back to Iran, prompting nuclear retaliation. So again, I would think that mutually assured destruction applies. The mullahs are extremists, no doubt, but they're not crazy enough to think they can get away with nuking Israel, the US or any other country on Earth without getting themselves wiped off the map, and that sort of defeats the purpose. (Indeed, I'm far more worried about Pakistani nukes ending up in the hands of terrorists who don't give a sh*t if we nuke Islamabad in retaliation. Pakistan is basically a failed state with vast territories effectively beyond the control of the central government and more importantly, the military, while Iran at least has a highly developed security apparatus and firm grip on everything that happens in its borders. A nuclear Iran would be able to prevent its nukes from falling into the hands of anyone it doesn't give them to -- and again, they're not likely to give them to anyone, even surrogate terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah, because usage would be tied back to Tehran.)
So do the cost/benefit analysis: at a time when Iran's government is subject to vigorous sanctions that will take their toll (and indeed, already are)... At a time when Iran's government is isolated with no sympathy from anyone in the global community, and is even detested by the vast majority of its own people who are itching to rise up and overthrow them, should we take military action that will upend all of that, create sympathy for the mullahs, weaken and perhaps break the sanctions, et al, just to delay them by a few years, and perhaps only a few months?
It seems counter-productive when we could play it cool, give the sanctions time to really squeeze them, and see what opportunities that
presents... while continuing to take the sort of covert actions we and Israel have been taking, e.g., deploying stuxnet, which has been more successful in delaying them than anything else.
It's a sh*tty situation, no question, but I feel like we should all be able to agree that war doesn't get us across the finish line -- preventing Iran from getting the bomb -- so we should keep searching for something that does while preparing for what might be inevitable and understanding that a nuclear Iran is no more doomsday for Israel or the West than a nuclear Soviet Union was, or a nuclear Pakistan is.
Edited by BklnScott, 03 March 2012 - 10:34 PM.