There are two sides of the Israeli problems concerning Iran which I want to try to address with this editorial. The first is the apparent perception by much of the countries in the world and their call on Israel to answer for their rhetoric over Iran, but so few countries have any comment about Iranian statements of intents towards Israel. The second is to present what may in the end be the only promise of retaliation to any Iranian or Iranian supported terror entity launched attack upon Israel with nuclear or other weapons of mass destruction that might have any hope of being a proper and workable deterrent and the problems which would ensue immediately should Israel make such an announcement. Through both of these discussions it should become evident that Israel is in an unenviable and untenable position where every choice and every situation appears to present to Israel choices between two evils, both of which have undesirable implications and results of approximately equal though different consequences. The one thing that should be obvious but has not appeared to have broken through to many is that Israel is honestly facing once again an existential threat which threatens Israel’s very being on this Earth. This current threat is very likely the most serious threat to her existence that Israel has ever faced. It is more of a threat than the overwhelming attack by over half a dozen Arab countries’ armies on the first day after the declaration of statehood on May 15, 1948. It is also comparable to the massing of troops on either end of the country with the large, well equipped Egyptian Army on her southern border and the equally well equipped but slightly lesser rated proficiency Syrian Army on her northern border with Jordan joining the assault the next day despite Israeli pleadings for them to not attack and informing King Hussein that the reports of Egyptian and Syrian victories were a fabrication in early June of 1967. It even surpasses the threat posed by the Egyptian assault on Yom Kippur of 1973 which found Israel totally unprepared as their unimpeachable intelligence had completely failed to predict the attack which left Israel with her reserves and many of her regular IDF troops in services at Synagogues throughout the country and unable to be contacted for call up except by actually going to each and every Synagogue making announcements informing of the attack with resultant call-up. And lastly it exceeds any other threat from Hamas, Hezballah, Islamic Jihad, Egypt, Syria, or any other combination of terror groups or national armies that have threatened Israel during her short history. This is the seriousness of the threat Iran poses once they attain nuclear weapons, and it is a threat that also applies to the rest of the world and not just Israel.
On Sunday Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota met with Israeli President Shimon Peres and expressed concern over Israel’s threats to launch a military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities. Foreign Minister Patriota was reported to have told President Peres, “We see with great concern the State of Israel’s threats to launch a military attack against Iran. These threats and future actions that may arise from them are extremely dangerous to the stability of the Middle East.” Referring to Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s meeting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2010 where the former Brazilian President was quoted as saying that he wished to “made it unequivocally clear that he was against Holocaust denial and that he in favor of peace and nuclear disarmament in the Middle East. This perception is still valid.” This is not the first high government official who has either made statements to the press or directed speeches or queries about the perceived danger and threat posed by Israel towards Iran. These statements and comments always ask why Israel is threatening to take preemptive actions against Iran and what the Israeli intent concerning Iran is. Many have demanded that Israel unequivocally guarantee they will take no preemptive actions against Iran and disavow any intent to take any actions using the Iranian nuclear program as an excuse for intervention. It seems like at least once every week somebody from some government comes forth with a comment about Israeli belligerence and threats vis-à-vis Iran and that Israel is the main threat to world and Middle East peace. Despite all the calls by Iranian President Ahmadinejad and Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei for the total destruction of the Zionist State, Israel, and of all the Jews everywhere, there are few countries outside of the Western nations who have shown even the slightest concern about these threats. Especially among the developing nations of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) there is a strong presupposition that Israeli threats against Iran are the highest threat to peace and have the potential of causing the next great war which would be started by an Israeli use of nuclear weapons while they see absolutely no threat coming from Iran and dismiss even the possibility that Iran would use WMDs such as nuclear weapons in a first strike against Israel. This is what Israel faces as the prevailing current of world opinion that Iran bluster and threats against Israel are of no consequence yet Israeli alarms about these threats against Israel emanating from Iran are an imminent threat to world peace. It is as if Iran attacking Israel would have minimal consequences but if Israel were to preemptively attack Iran it would cause an international reaction and drag the entire world into a great conflagration. I guess this prediction is likely a self-fulfilling prophesy. If every country basically stands aside should Iran attack Israel then such an attack would have a minimal consequence and even should the United States respond as they are committed by treaty, then the United States response would be the full extent of anything beyond the Israeli second strike capabilities. On the other hand, should all the countries that disregard any threat from Iran but promise world destruction would result from an Israel attack and after such they all actually went to war against Israel, and any country which sided with the Jewish State, then an Israeli attack would result in a worldwide conflagration. It does boggle the mind that Israel warning and pleading for assistance in preventing Iran attaining nuclear weapons ability is considered the preeminent threat in the world but the Iranian calls of, “Death to Israel; Death to America,” is considered simply a natural and expected action which would have no real world implications. Some things just make little if any sense.
The other problem has been described as the Netanyahu preemption conundrum. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu along with the Israeli Prime Minister’s Cabinet with advice from the Israeli’s top military planners and tacticians must discern what exactly the Iranian intents are. Beyond the obvious and very public calls by many of Iran’s highest placed spokespeople for an end to the Zionist entity and other threats calling for the death of all of Israel, Israeli intelligence analysts and leadership must discern exactly what the Iranian threat concerning Israel actually boils down to once all the bluster and hyperventilation are filtered out. Are the Iranian claims that Israel is but a one nuclear weapon strike away from extinction an actual call for making such an attack a reality as soon as the Iranian nuclear program develops a nuclear device and a method of delivery. If Iran is intending to try and bring about an Israeli apocalypse, what would they utilize as a delivery method? Would they use a ballistic missile, a bombing with aircraft, a ship with a registry which would not cause suspicion pulling into Haifa or Tel Aviv marinas, or a cement truck or other land vehicle capable of carrying the device infiltrating through the West Bank, or any other conceivable method. Israel cannot afford to plan for only one or two of the most obvious delivery methods as the 911 attack on the United States proved. Some have come up with a description of the problem simplifying it down to figuring out the psychological mindset of the Iranian leadership by choosing one of three categories, are they rational, irrational or simply insane. Supposedly each of these states of mind requires a different set of actions and determines what is needed to prevent Iran from an attack with WMDs on Israel, whether it will require preemption or is there a set of defined actions that would make a sufficient deterrent. The problem with this approach is that it allows for a mistake in judgment making all the planning and reliance uncertain with a high probability of error. What Israel needs to do is first decide whether preemption is viable and what would be the results of a preemptive attack and what would be required to implement a successful preemption and what determines a successful preemption. Then, if preemption is determined to either not be required, too risky to be attempted, too expensive in either treasure or casualties, ineffective requiring a frequency of preemption making it unfeasible, or too much risk of world condemnation and resultant reaction and punishments placed upon Israel, then some appropriate and sufficient deterrence must be determined and established as policy and communicated to Iran and the World.
An estimation of preemption would eventually lead to the conclusion that no attack could undo the amount of enriched uranium already held by Iran and since whatever destruction was dealt to the Iranian nuclear program would be able to be reconstituted or rebuilt and would only serve to delay the inevitable. Even if preemption appears to be feasible at this time and would result in at least a five year and as much as more than a dozen year setback of the Iranian nuclear program, there is one other problem which must be considered. Even if everything else made a current preemption viable and would not result in any permanent harm to Israel and would be sufficiently precise so as not to cause unacceptable collateral casualties and damage, the fact that it would not be a permanent solution must be brought into the discussion. Once that is realized, then it becomes evident that preemption would eventually lead to a situation where preemption would no longer be effective and therefore preemption becomes an nonviable solution. Israel must find a solution that once put in place makes the likelihood of an Iranian attack with the intent of annihilation of the Jewish State as its purpose becomes no longer acceptable to the Iranian leadership. One cannot even be guaranteed that bringing down the governance of Iran by the Ayatollahs and having a ruling theocracy would also actualize an end to the Iranian nuclear ambitions. It is likely that any government chosen by the Iranians may decide to continue the drive for nuclear weaponry and nuclear mastery. So, the only true solution would be to find some threat that would function as a proper and viable deterrence completely independent of any discernment about the mental state of those governing in Iran now or in the future.
Deterrence is the sole solution to the Iranian nuclear threat that can be considered and implemented which would be sane, rational, workable, and have any chance of effectiveness. The one thing that must be kept in mind is that the deterrence must be effective no matter whether the leadership of Iran is rational, irrational or simply insane. The only workable deterrence must be effective against all states of mind, political realities, religious considerations, and virtually any conditions which could possibly exist, whether likely or beyond belief. Unlike the Cold War where MAD, Mutually Assured Destruction, was sufficient as both the Soviet Union and the United States, and later China, were all sane actors and were checked simply by the guarantee of mutual destruction. Unfortunately, one of the conditions that must be satisfied when deterring Iran is that the leadership is now or may in the future be suicidally inclined. So, we can rule out mutually assured destruction as a viable deterrence. It is at this point that most of the appraisals I have read simply gives up and makes the call for a preemptive strike, which we have already ruled out as an inoperable and untenable approach to the problem. That leaves us in search of the necessary qualities and quantities that must be put under threat as a response to an Iranian attack such that Iran would be deterred from ever even considering such a move. There is but one thing which would satisfy these requirements and it would be applicable not only to Iran, but would also apply to the rest of the Muslim world. Israel must make it known that should they face annihilation from a nuclear or other overwhelming attack, especially one using Weapons of Mass Destruction, that Israel would launch a massive retaliatory strike. The initial targets would be the major cities of the attacking nation or nations. This would not serve as sufficient deterrence should Iranian leadership be either irrational or simply insane. To make the deterrence actually workable, it needs to have a secondary set of targets. These secondary targets must be the same regardless of who from the Muslim World would be the originating attackers. Israel needs to identify particular targets that are of such value to Muslims that to even consider testing Israeli resolve on such a threat would be unthinkable. This is why among these secondary targets there would be a select group of critical structures in each Muslim country which would be targeted for destruction either by nuclear weapons or conventional weapons, as required. For example, in Egypt the Aswan Dam would be destroyed which would cause irreversible damage to the entire Nile Valley and Nile Delta. The final sets of targets that Israel would include are targets that are universal in their value throughout the Muslim World. These would include but not be limited to Mecca; Medina; Qom, Iran; Mashhad, Iran; Najaf, Iraq; Karbala, Iraq; all Muslim Holy Sites upon the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, Israel; and other selected locations which house other equally important sites important to all of Islam and to each of Islam’s major factions, Sunni, Shiite, and Sufi. By making the retaliatory attack diverse in order that all sects of Islam pay a price and also choosing those sites which are particular to each sect of Islam, this would cause every sect of Islam and Muslims everywhere to have a stake in preventing any such attack upon Israel. So, even if the leadership of Iran would, as has been stated, “not care if Iran is burnt to the ground as long as Israel was wiped from the Earth,” one needs to make the price beyond just Iran, make the price a concern for all of Islam and invoke every Muslim to have an interest in keeping the peace so it is in their interest to contain Iran as they too will be made to pay and not just Iran. Granted, should Israel make such a threat they would come under crushing criticism, but when you are considering national survival and the survival of the Jewish people in many ways, criticism is something one should accept. Israel can make it known that they do not relish or even anticipate with anything short of dread ever having to make good on this threat and retaliation, but it is a retaliation and as such cannot occur without an outside trigger, an attack from Iran or any other Muslim nation. Islam itself gives the world the concept that Muslims everywhere are really one nation despite false borders the world has imposed upon them and Israel is simply honoring that all of Islam is one and therefore all of Islam would be responsible for an attack by any Islamic force. It may not be very politically acceptable, but neither should the complete and total destruction of the Jewish State, Israel, be acceptable. All this would amount to is if the first unacceptable event should be initiated, the destruction of Israel and almost all Jewish Holy Sites with WMDs, then a second unacceptable event will be the response, the destruction of numerous Muslim cities and Islamic Holy Places.
Beyond the Cusp