The truth about Israel’s rumored strike on Iran

February 9, 2012

At a time when President Obama has moved troops out of Iraq and is moving them out of Afghanistan, it’s looking increasingly like our worries in the Middle East are far from over. Maybe it’s not unprecedented, but it’s highly unusual for a sitting secretary of defense to worry in print (to Washington Post columnist David Ignatius) that Israel could launch a strike against Iran as early as this spring. The point of the Israeli attack, according to Ignatius and Panetta, would be to stop Iran before it begins building a nuclear bomb. The U.S. is saying that it would find such a move foolhardy, and yet also reassuring both the Israeli and American publics that it is committed to Israel’s security.

But it’s probably not Israel’s true intention to strike Iran anyway.

According to Ignatius and many others, the Israelis, led by Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, believe that waiting for the U.S. to strike Iran is an unwise stance. That’s because the U.S.’s threshold for sufficient proof of a nearly finished or completed Iranian nuclear weapon is likely much higher than that of Israel. If such proof came to light, only the U.S. at that point would have the capacity to take out the leadership in Tehran singlehandedly. But such an operation would create a leadership vacuum and leave whoever was running Iran with the bomb. Right now, Israel feels that it can make a dent with its own operation, heading off Iran’s bomb-making before it becomes an issue only the U.S. can deal with. But the window for that option is rapidly closing.

Despite Panetta’s public warnings, and despite Israel’s sudden silence (which many are taking as a sign that it’s gearing up internally for such a mission as this one), an attack on Iran isn’t as likely to occur in the spring as Washington or Tel Aviv would have us believe. That’s because even though new U.S. sanctions on the country went into effect this week, the real test of Iran’s economic fortitude will come around July 1, when the European Union’s gradual introduction of a ban on oil from the country takes full effect. Unfortunately, even those sanctions are unlikely to do much to deter Iran, as India, China and African nations will likely continue to buy much of Iran’s oil production, and they will gain some concessions on price due to the artificially limited market. Nevertheless, Israel will presumably wait to see what happens.

Any smaller strikes that Israel makes against Iran before the economic sanctions would bring down on Israel the ire of the international community, along with that of the Obama administration. Not to mention that Israel certainly wouldn’t want to risk a counterattack if it didn’t have to. So it won’t.

If all of this is true, why would the Israelis telegraph an attack on Iran that is unlikely to happen quite so fast? Well, it’s in their best interests to talk the talk. By using coordinated speaking points they’re bringing Iran front and center on the global stage, while the international community still has time to deal with it. Since the last thing the Israelis want to do is rely on the U.S. to fight their battles for them, they have to press on the Iran issue now, and threaten to act unilaterally, to get the U.S. and EU to act with alacrity. In fact, sources close to the Israeli decision-making process have told me that no final decision has been reached about when or whether to strike Iran. Simply put, it would be premature for Netanyahu and Barak to have made up their minds already. But why would they tell this to the rest of the world when they are convinced the Iranian nuclear threat will soon be very, very real?

The Israelis are smart to play their hand this way, because the world absolutely does need to pay attention to Iran. The political situation in Iran is deteriorating. President Ahmadinejad is facing his own re-election in June 2013, which he almost certainly will not win, if he even lasts that long in his current position. A rift has opened between his camp and that of the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei — not a good thing for one’s life expectancy in totalitarian religious dictatorships.

The rift has created incentives for increased corruption and heightened self-interest in everyday government actions. That’s why Iran’s message has become scattershot. Remember that embarrassing plot to kill the ambassador from Saudi Arabia, as well, more recently, similar bizarre plots against neighboring Azerbaijan? Meanwhile, Iran’s big regional allies, like Bahrain, Syria and Iraq, have, to put it mildly, their own internal issues to contend with.

Iran, in short, is on its back foot right now. If a provocation comes from Israel, Iran will act like a cornered animal. Geopolitical forces are aligning for just such a lashing out against Israel and the West to occur, whether it’s this spring, after July, or perhaps as a U.S. election October surprise.

In other words, yes, let’s talk about Iran — early and often. Especially about how its influence in the region can be better contained. An open discussion is the world’s best chance of not waking up one day to the news that yet another country has nuclear weapons and everything that would entail in altering the world’s already precarious balance of power.

PHOTO: Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu (C), attends a Likud party meeting at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem, February 6, 2012. Netanyahu will visit the United States early next month to address the annual convention of the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC in Washington, his office said on Sunday. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

This essay is based on a transcribed interview with Bremmer.


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Dr Bremmer,

Thanks for the piece. Your analysis is terrific – penetrating and rational, at a time when most commentators are echoing other peoples’ talking points.

You could go a step or two further, though.

You are right that Iran would lash out like a cornered animal, but you might consider the possibility that this is exactly what Bibi wants. A scary Iran serves Israel’s interests, or to be more precise, a scary Iran serves what Bibi believes Israel’s interests to be. An Iran that actually made the mistake of initiating a real-life confrontation, in Hormuz or elsewhere, would be Bibi’s idea of heaven.

I say this in part because Bibi assured me personally that Iran was three years from having the Bomb – in 1995. He hypes Iran to keep the US off of his neck about the West Bank, and has done so for decades. And it works – when’s the last time President Obama raised the settlements issue?

Thanks again, and I will eagerly await your further analyses.


Posted by USWerewolf | Report as abusive

“n other words, yes, let’s talk about Iran — early and often. Especially about how its influence in the region can be better contained. An open discussion is the world’s best chance of not waking up one day to the news that yet another country has nuclear weapons and everything that would entail in altering the world’s already precarious balance of power”.

What is the world’s balance of power now? And why is that such a good thing? In a world of global trade – does it really exist at all? Balanced trade seems to be more important than balanced power.

Shooting someone or at something on rumors and conjecture doesn’t sit will in any court of law in the world, as far as I know? If owning a weapon – or exciting the mere suspicion of being able to own one – was valid reason for a shootout, there would have been few people alive in the old west. Were they more civilized or more rational?

The current holders of nuclear weapons haven’t shot each other in over 50 years or tried to” take out their leadership” and they are quite clear demonstrations of each other’s capabilities. Why is Israel claiming it is so willing to lower the bar of proof?

Posted by paintcan | Report as abusive

to answer your question.
any country that literally pump cash out of the ground and divert it directly to mercenary projects across the globe, is a real threat to peaceful commerce.
This country in particular has decided, and for very good reason that a nuclear weapon would protect their ability to do so practically indefinitely.
everyone really knows that an Iranian nuke will guarantee another 50 years of terror in the middle east and elsewhere.
The Chinese and the Russians know that either way this goes the US will diverting valuable resources to this problem, so the longer this drags out the better.
and if at the end of the day you get another nuke well that’s fine too; nukes are nationalist.
and that what national socialism likes.

well so far as the theory goes,
and it basically sound.

Posted by cp61 | Report as abusive

Hey, lets face it, Iran government is run by terrorists, who would not hesitate to use the bomb. Israel’s best interest is to watch and try and dismantle this before it becomes reality. Iran may hate the west, but Israel is the ultimate prize to be taken down. Something has to be done and soon. Talk is cheap, action is what is needed. A James Bond type of mission would take this program out nicely, without the big expense and loss of life that a war would create.

Posted by cheeze | Report as abusive

Beating on the old war drum serves Israel’s purposes several ways. (1) They can keep insisting that the biggest threat to peace in the Near East is anyone, but them. (2) They can keep their own population, and everyone else, perpetually on edge, allowing them to continue their repressives policies on the Palestinians and anyone else who sides with the latter. (3) Maintain very close relations with the US, especially the military, ensuring a steady supply of technology, and logistics if they ever need it. (4) Rely on their monopoly of WMD as the only nation in the area of having any to support reasons 1 thru 3, listed previously. Kind of smart when they’re crying wolf all of the time making reconciliation with their Arab neighbors almost impossible. Incidentally, just last year, Mossad was assuring everyone that Iran was at least years away from a nuclear warhead. Not that one or two would make a big difference anyway. I wonder if Goldman Sachs is still purveying petroleum futures as investments, rather than a risk based financial contract.

Posted by USDemocrat | Report as abusive

Without a name – I’m not sure the question was aimed at my last statement but I’ll ask another question anyway.

@cp61 – you could make the same charge (mercenary projects across the globe) against every other nuclear power and even some non-nuclear countries at one time or another. It all depends on whether you liked the exercise see of that power or not. You just don’t seem to want to make that charge against anyone but the Iranians. Many others in these comment pages have made that kind of charge against one and all of the big powers at one time or another.

BTW – mercenary means an armed force, paid by a government to do its biding in warfare, as a career. The US has spent the last ten years fighting with mercenary forces. They are enlisted men, careerists, and not draftees. They have fought with other countries’ “mercenaries” if it suited them.

Anyone backed into a corner or pressured – with or without good reason – might also “lash out like an animal” and so far the Iranians haven’t. People, who have no respect for the UN in any other matter, can somehow find so much when it comes to sanctions regimes. I tend to like to read Reuters comments for the full thread and that’s how I noticed this contradiction. The Israeli government, with US compliance, has shown very little respect for UN decisions regarding Israeli occupation of the West Bank. The Israeli government also knows it would never get UN approval for a strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities because it would be a grave violation of international law. We are sup[posed to believe the Israeli’s have the best judgment on these matters and that is hardly self evident.

The Iranians have been presented with an ultimatum that they may not enrich uranium at all for any purpose or to any level. That doesn’t even sound like good business sense let alone fairness. And it isn’t what they agreed to when they signed the NPT. What aren’t they afforded the same right to employ their physicists as the other nuclear powers demanded and took without regard for the rest?

My question about what the current world “balance of power” really is, has so far gone unanswered.

Posted by paintcan | Report as abusive

How about we talk about Israel’s nuclear bombs, since they are one of the reasons that Iran might seek nuclear capability. Let’s also talk about Iran’s right, under international law, to develop its nuclear capacity for medicinal reasons. Then let’s talk about the fact that Iran is a member of the non-proliferation pact, while Israel isn’t. Finally, let’s look at which nation in the Middle East has bombed, killed and threatened it neighbors more in the last 30 years. Hint: not Iran.

Posted by cautious123 | Report as abusive

I think that Ian’s analysis is close to the mark. But Israel’s drum beating is mostly to make the US take action. The US is being “played” by Israel.

Posted by stromatolite | Report as abusive

buy a history book
I recommend The western tradition by Eugen Weber.
I could spend all night refuting the painfully topical points in your tirade
but why, really?

Posted by cp61 | Report as abusive

I can’t believe so many have their head in the sand about Iran. I’m with cautious123.

If Iran is a monster, it is one created by the West.

It would be in Israel’s best interest to stop the lies and make friends with their neighbors. This American has had enough.

Posted by balancedview | Report as abusive

A well-reasoned argument why “logically” Israel will not attack Iran.

However, your analysis does not contain a single item of proof to back up your opinion. Instead, your opinion simply reflects your biased education at Stanford and involvement in the Hoover Institution, but other than that there is no substance to the point you are attempting to make.

From what I can see you have no real knowledge of the Middle East situation, other than what someone can pick up casually at a newsstand.

I assume this because if you had real credentials to back up your claim, you would have presented them appropriately.

I could provide equally valid personal opinions as to why I think they will attack Iran, but that is a pointless argument, just like your article.

Perhaps you could send your resume to Obama, who seems to be of the same opinion as you, and for apparently the same reasons.


Posted by Gordon2352 | Report as abusive

@co61- You’d lose. Is your argument simply that the west is superior to the east or ME? I’m not going to buy the author’s book (for now). And that really isn’t what is at stake. The Chinese have a bomb and the world has not suddenly become the exclusive extension of Chinese culture, or the French, English, Russian or even American cultures.
If anything it is becoming a hybrid of cultures and even economic systems.

Get a dictionary – You don’t know the meaning of the word “tirade”. Unfortunately your dogmatism has it’s counterpart in the ME.

None of the nuclear powers actually use their nuclear technology or exclusively peaceful purposes. Yet they insist that Iran be the exception. India and Pakistan both have built the bomb an somehow they are exceptional and assumed responsible? I am not at all sure what the litmus test is anymore. The history books I have read suggest that Iran has good reason to dislike the west.

Posted by paintcan | Report as abusive

Here’s the thing: there’s a difference between what Israel can afford to allow and what we can. We are sitting thousands of miles away, far from the reach of any rocket Iran has. Meanwhile, Tel Aviv sits 900 miles from Tehran, well within the range of Iran’s rockets. Everybody knows that the Iranian regime is no friend of Israel and has made many anti semitic statements and statements about how it would be happy if Israel ceased to exist. If Iran were to get a useable nuclear bomb, the consequences would be severe for Israel.

In the end, the NPT is just a piece of paper; it’s up to each country that has signed it to enforce it, and none of them have any actual power over each other aside from the ability to make sanctions, blockades, and maybe invade if things get really bad. The problem is that sanctions may not work, and blockades and invasions are actions that no country aside from Israel is willing to take right now. We won’t know whether sanctions will work until it may be too late for them to do anything. If Iran launches a nuke at Tel-Aviv, that’s 3.2 million civilians in the line of fire, 48% of Israel’s population, along with its military headquarters and much of its military power.

Posted by sfgfan10 | Report as abusive

The nuclear weapons and the Israeli screen are smokescreens. The real problem with Iran is that it insists on selling oil for euros and that threatens the USA dollar hegemony. The US is trying every trick in the book to weaken the euro, starting with the idiot Papandreou of Greece, but so far nothing seems to work.
The real trouble for Europe is that it does not have the military machine of the US(or its expenses)and so Europe can get its arm twisted to stop buying Iran oil.
Yet, look for the July 1 date getting kicked down the road again and again.No one in Europe likes the IMF or its dollars.
The real danger is a Europe so squeezed by the USA and its darling dollar that it could start arming itself for real.

Posted by sanehgav | Report as abusive

I’m sure you could… but I’m afraid you wouldn’t.
paintcan got a real point with facts.

Posted by balacubacu | Report as abusive

There are more countries than just Israel and Iran. This could mushroom out of control in a trice.

Posted by Tiu | Report as abusive

A famous quote from father of Pakistan’s N-Bomb:
” Why is it the right only of God-appointed ba$tards to own and stockpile nuclear weapons?”

Posted by legspinner | Report as abusive

sfgfan10, I totally agree with what you wrote.

Also, I do not believe that Iran is a huge power. I don’t believe they are powerful enough to drag the world into a war. That said, they are hateful enough of Israel, that even if they didn’t have the power to do much else, with one bomb on Tel Aviv, they don’t have to have much power: that action might satisfy them.

So, of course Israel is more worried that the U.S. And it seems reasonable from both the perspective of the Israelis and the Americans, that the political posturing should look like it does. Washington needs to look like it is holding back on military, while it imposes sanctions. And Israel needs to look like it is strong on military. Why those positions should surprise anyone is all that leaves me confused.


Posted by Shoe2 | Report as abusive

There is an easy answer. The President should announce to the world, and Iran, that any attack by Iran on any friend or ally of the US will be treated as an attack on the US, and any nuclear attack on any friend or ally, as a nuclear attack on the US. This approach worked with Russia, and kept it from any further (post Yalta) take overs in central Europe.

Posted by JoelGallob | Report as abusive

i still dont get it how can Israel with nuclear weapons can ask the world to stop Iran building one, and those countries that are trying to enforce their will on Iran posess nuclear
weapons. It is like that saying: do as i say , not as i do.
This all thing about nuclear weapons is just another way to pressure them or to have excuse for destroy and pillage that
country. And those arguments how they support terrorism, the question is whose terrorists are they. USA supports all kinds of terrorists, Israel is one of them, Al Qaida was very useful to them against Soviets.

Posted by ajrolaf | Report as abusive

And this thing about one year from having nuclear bomb is 30 years old, by now they should have at least 20 of them :)

Posted by ajrolaf | Report as abusive

Once you go down the path of violence the rest of your arguments that follow no longer make any sense as the original point of conflict was an unjust act-which is Israel bombing another country that didn’t attack it first. Surely Iran knows that to “nuke” Israel, that Iran in turn would be nuked itself to prevent further nuking. For one moment, can you imagine what it would be like to hear about a country “nuking” another country on the news one day? What about you and your family at your home being nuked one day? What would provoke such an action? Israels unjust actions in the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem can stand on its own two feet as a point of contention between Israel and the West. Iran being a bogeyman doesn’t hold water. Palestinians are men, women, and children, just like here in America, except over there when they leave their house to go to grandma’s house they have to go through a humiliating Israeli Army checkpoint. These checkpoints clearly demarcate the continued settlement areas into West Bank areas. Israel, and my country, the US, would be good to start going to work everyday instead of invading other peoples’ countries just because their leaders don’t suit us economically. It would be wise to treat the world like we ourselves would want to be treated. If I go to work or school or if I am relaxing or retired I expect no less than to be treated well by others and to treat others well. Why is that so hard as a country? Can’t we treat other countries like we want to be treated? If war is what you want ask yourself if you would send your own kids to fight. Your answer will tell you whether or not you are a hypocrite.

Posted by PeaceLight | Report as abusive

unfortunately,you have an axe to grind, you believe my answer to you was about racism or the superiority of nationalism.
obviously we can’t speak we can’t even agree on the subject.
so, well, whatever.

Posted by cp61 | Report as abusive

Remember when Great Britain said that the Stern Gang and other founders of Israel were terrorists? Calling names is a sneaky trick, just as saying the founders of Iran are terrorists.
Even more ridiculous is the mantra spouted by Israel-firsters that it would be so, so, so dangerous for Iran to have atomic weapons. But those self-proclaimed “peace-loving” Israelis have many such bombs, and they think that is just fine. What hypocrites. What liars. What racists are the Israelis.

Posted by LouVignates | Report as abusive

Remember when Great Britain said that the Stern Gang and other founders of Israel were terrorists? Calling names is a sneaky trick, just as saying the founders of Iran are terrorists.
Even more ridiculous is the mantra spouted by Israel-firsters that it would be so, so, so dangerous for Iran to have atomic weapons. But those self-proclaimed “peace-loving” Israelis have many such bombs, and they think that is just fine. What hypocrites. What liars. What racists are the Israelis.

Posted by LouVignates | Report as abusive

67 years without single war between any major powers let alone superpowers is the best proof of United Nations effectiveness. Just let me remind you that this is the first such a long period without major war. Of course proxy wars were fought, but meddling in weak countries affairs is a duty of strong countries, vassal and patron states will always exist.
So whatever is said for PR reasons by Israel or US about Iran (or Russia on the other hand) is just said, we all understand it is election time.
It is obvious that any REAL risk of attack on Iran or Syria could lead for instance to “unfortunate leak” of diplomatic communication of Russia to Israel that “Breaking of UN charter could mean the real threat of Israel security etc, etc.” And of course Russia will decline as well as Israel but this is the last resort, so before such threats are made it is just business as usual.

Posted by Wantunbiasednew | Report as abusive

I reject the idea that this situation could spiral out of control and involve other countries. Countries usually act in their own self-interest, and a brief war between Israel and Iran is really not in anyone else’s interest to join, including the USA.

Frankly, I have often felt that a couple of good minor wars are exactly what the middle east needs. We tend to think that as a world culture, we have progressed past using war to solve problems, but that has been the case for millennia. A war between Israel and the Palestinians 20-25 years ago could have resolved quite a few of the continuing issues there. A strong attack on Iran by Israel could solve an even bigger problem now.

Posted by justine184 | Report as abusive

The security of Israel is not in America’s best interest.

Why would it be? Because we have a less than 3% Jewish minority in the USA? Is there a difference between a Jew and an Israeli, other than one of convenience? If there is, why then be concerned about the fate of a bellicose non-democratic State that does not produce a lot of oil or gas, is not vital to international commerce, and is of very questionable value as a military ally? If it is a valuable ally, then why is it trying to start yet another war for the USA in the Middle East?

Time to cut these people off. Especially if they cause a lot of trouble for us by attacking Iran without our open support. That would not be the act of an ally of the American People as a whole, let alone one to be “valued”. Israel must understand that a provocative attack on Iran will end our support of their regime.

And there is no reason to “take out” the Iranian leadership. What a stupid idea. The last time such “rocket science” was applied to Iran, the US managed to replaced the Shah with the reputedly “Liberal” Ayatollah Khomeini. It would be a way to guarantee an even more extremely anti-American atmosphere in the entire region. Such a result would only be in Israel’s interest. We are being manipulated from Tel Aviv.

Posted by txgadfly | Report as abusive

Ian Bremmer doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Ahmadinejad is NOT “facing re-elections” — in fact his term expires and he cannot run for office again. And, Leon Panetta denied making the statements that David Ignatius of the Washington Post attributes to him.

Posted by Hassani1387 | Report as abusive

Ian Bremmer does not know what he’s talking about. Ahmadinejad is NOT “facing re-elections” — in fact his second term expires and he is not eligible for re-election.

And, Leon Panetta denied sharing his views with David Ignatius of the Washington Post.

Posted by Hassani1387 | Report as abusive

Ian’s argument unfortunately orbits around the binary star of the USA and Israel.

“Unfortunate” because it lacks any further insight into the straightforward partnership between Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan etc (under ECO), China and Russia (under SCO) and the general enthusiasm for the BRIC countries to generally undermine the US-Israel binary in the middle-east.

Russia, India and China are enjoying unrivalled access to Iranian resources and perhaps leverage for their mining and metal aspirations in Afghanistan.

Again, Ian is silent on those issues. Gazing at binary stars is a soft option in a complex contellation.

Posted by scythe | Report as abusive

Lets start at the beginning. When America bombed Hiroshima, the carried an atomic bomb in a B29 Super fortress,
Iran at best will have a very basic Bomb, the problem is how to deliver it. They could use a B 29 or an equivalent aircraft, they are slow and cumbersome at Mach 0.9 about 600 mph they can be easily detected. So far no problem. Next they could ship it via a container, again not very practicable. Or they could use FedEx.or UPS ! So what is next. A ballistic missile, their missiles are capable of lifting a payload of 1200 Lbs. A 1200 Lb basic atomic weapon landing in Tel Aviv would no doubt be hurtful. There would be multiple deaths, but Israel would survive, Now in your wildest dreams do you think it is the Israeli psyche to sit quite and bemoan their fate as in 1933 -1945. Dream on. Iran would sustain a massive amount of damage. If history is correct, Iran never feared too well against Iraq. Syria, Egypt, Jordan had a plentiful supply of the latest Russian Arms. It seems their tanks had one forward gear and six reverse gears. Vietnam had an abundant supply of American arms, and the USA went out with their tails between their legs. The moral of the story, Weapons do help, but the generals up front and the soldiers on the front line with an iron will are the eventual winners. I am an Israeli living in Netanya. ISRAEL

Posted by Toosoonold | Report as abusive

When will the world community, esp. the US, France, GB and others face Israel down about their nuclear arsenal which has never been inspected, admitted to. Israel is clearly against all the international laws and treaties that have been signed by the major powers on nuclear proliferation. According to US law and its treaties we should be imposing sanctions on Israel, not just Iran.

Israel introduced nuclear weapons into the Middle East political quagmire yet no one is willing to address this issue. The US, UN, and others are shown to be major hypocrites when fomenting about the Iranian nuclear threat while Israel waves it nuclear prowess to intimidate its neighbors.

Posted by Acetracy | Report as abusive

Where have you been? Israel is already attacking Iran. Electronic attacks and 2 prominent scientists assassinated.

This is only a flavor of what hits the press.

Everyone in the know already knows Israel is going to send in missile strikes in March 2012. The comfort zone has beat their expectations already on the world lack of interest in their attacks to date.

It is also an already agreed commitment by the USA to back Israel after the attacks when Iran strikes back.

There is nothing to do but watch your calendar and of course buy oil futures.

Posted by Butch_from_PA | Report as abusive

If butch from PA is clairvoyant, and his investment advice is probably accurate, the years we have been living in should be called the era of the Corporate Wars. The issue of nukes is a red herring.

Perhaps the real issue with Iran is that is is too independent of the global double talk of the world money markets and insists on doing things its own way. They are in a sense, too into survivalism.

Perhaps the deepest issue of all is the rival ways of doing business. The world money managers would really rather see Sharia law disappear. I’m not crazy about it either and it sounds awkward and double talking in its own right but it isn’t an issue that makes good heart pounding copy.

But right now – neither way of doing business looks very good and I could easily follow Butch’s advise and watch both sides blow each other’s brains out. Little wars are becoming a spectator sport. They represent therapy for the powerless and a business opportunity for the ruthless. Both sides deserve to have their heads blown off too. Thumbs down to both of them.

I always figure that ruthless people only survive to live in a world that eats ruthless people for breakfast.

Posted by paintcan | Report as abusive

Excellent piece. Poker skills of the writer and the international players quite evident.

Posted by Kingsago | Report as abusive

Rattling the sabre against Israel is a common practice in the Middle East (ME). Dictatorships seeking to divert the attention of their citizens find in Israel an easy target for scoring points (Syria!). What has Iran got to do with Israel? Israel never threatened Iran and is , in ME terms, a world away from its borders.
The world is a crazy place and to see that clearly you have to look closely at the ME. If you ask me, Iran would indeed be interested in a nuclear weapon, but the reasons have nothing to do with Israel or the U.S.
The only thing that makes sense to me is that Iran’s fears are centerd on Pakistan and the likelihood of a rogue regime taking power there and seeking to justify its existence by pointing the finger at the Shi’ite Kufar of Iran.
The biggest joke for me is the desperation with which Iran seeks to present itself as the defender, the beacon, of Islam. What a sham that is. Iran knows full well that such an image will never be accepted by the Sunni majority.These guys are wasting their time and money trying to build a base in the Arab world. And had it not been for their money, no one in that world would pay any attention to their ludicrous claims.
I never heard of a Palestinian shi’ite and neither has Hamas. But , hey, the money is good.
If there is a people that the Shi’ites of Lebanon detested it is the Palestinians . They had experienced first hand what the liberation fighters’
idea of fairness and justice are when those fighters ruled over them.
I need a break from the insanity of the ME. Yet such a thing is impossible. I will finish by reminding everyone that the only country in the world that has offered refuge to the doomed Alawites of Syria is none other than Israel. Ha…

Posted by Biscayne | Report as abusive

One has to objective about nuclear weapons in the Middle East. The first Nuclear weapon was developed and delivered by the USAF in 1945. This was a basic A bomb. It was so large and so heavy only a B29 could deliver it.
Bearing this in mind, lets say Iran has developed a nuclear weapon, at best it would be a basic bomb, now they have to deliver it. Their choices are a B29 or similar aircraft, of which they don’t have any. They could convert a B747 or similar aircraft, At Mach 0.9 they are slow and cumbersome and are easily detected. They could use a shipping container, detonation is a problem. They could use their long range rockets at this time the payload is limited to some 1200 lbs.

Bearing these aforementioned in mind, Iran could use a very limited size nuclear device on say Tel Aviv. O yes there would be extremism damage and loss of life, but not catastrophic.Remember this is a people who lost 6 million and from the ashes of Auschwitz built Israel

On the next page you have Israel’s response, First the IDF will have to let a ballistic missile through. Next there will be Israel’s response should any attack be launched on this country. I need go no further.!

I am an Israeli citizen living in Netanya, yes I am concerned, but no I am not quivering in my boots. Peering into my crystal ball, I use history as my guide. Iran and Iraq fought each other for eight years in an undeceive war, Israel blew up Iraq’s reactor.

Do not be intimidated by bluster and bravado we know only too well the strengths and weakness of the Arab armies ( we know Iran is a Persian country )

Submitted by Ben-Zion from Netanya. ISRAEL

Posted by Toosoonold | Report as abusive

Please be responsible for the misinformation about the Islamic Republic of Iran , Iran constitution limits the president to 2 Terms . Ahmadinejad can’t stand for election in 2013 .

Iran is a geographic , culture , religious , political influence in the Middle-east & Asia .

In 20 years the USA will loose most if not all it’s political & economic influence in the Region , while Iran is still a viable country with all its neighbors .

Do you notice that US media don’t cover the various rallies and celebrations that are held in Iraq in celebration of the withdrawal of US occupation troops from Iraq?

Posted by Harajli | Report as abusive

I would like to know where Biscayne heard of the highly imbrobable offer of Israel to take in Alawite Syrians? He mentions desperate attempts at being “beacons” and that sounds like one too.

Posted by paintcan | Report as abusive

In order to bluff, you have to state it. You hope it will work and won’t have to back it up if it doesn’t.

Posted by DwDunphy | Report as abusive

This is a long comment, but, I feel, an important one.

The whole conversation here is based on the paradigm of States as monadic entities constituted, managed, and manipulated by and for the One Percent. However true this may be as a current fact of life, it is a fact that is ethically and spiritually abhorrent to anyone of genuine religious sentiments, to anyone who is concerned with building a sustainable Earth Community for the future of humanity.

It is time for analysts to start challenging this paradigm and to start really focusing on the needs and concerns of the Ninety-Nine Percent, the ordinary human beings of the world and their attempts to have a decent life in the midst of all the geopolitical maneuverings of the One Percent.

What should be the analytic message of genuinely ethical commentators to the so-called leaders of the Middle East? The message is simple: put aside your games and work, instead, for the common good of your region. Institute a Middle East Zone of Peace. Begin to implement and enforce justice and the human rights of your peoples. Work for sustainable development and renewable energy. Call yourselves and your peoples back to the common ethical foundations and teachings of your religions.

In a talk given early in the 20th century, ‘Abdu’l-Baha, the then leader of the Baha’i community, addressing the Baha’i community, stated as follows:

“In former times, men either became believers, or else they became enemies of the cause of God. For instance, in the time of Moses, all those who believed in him as a prophet and in the unity of God, became of the faithful. In the time of Christ, those who believed in the divinity of the Father and that Jesus was the Word, became disciples. Faith consisted in the blind acceptance of these truths and those who accepted were considered saved; the rest were doomed to perdition.

“But in this day, the question is far more important. Faith does not consist in belief. It consists in deeds.

“It is not sufficient to believe in Baha’u’llah and to say, ‘I am of the people of El-Abha’. We must act in accordance with the teachings of Baha’u’llah, who commands us to become centers of divine attraction, so that the attributes of God may emanate from us, that we may become wise and well intentioned to all the peoples of the earth in order to better the condition of all.

“We must look upon our enemies with a sin-covering eye and act with justice when confronted with any injustice whatsoever; forgive all; consider the whole of humanity as our own family, the whole earth as our own country; be sympathetic with all suffering; nurse the sick; offer a shelter to the exiled; help the poor and those in need; dress all wounds; and share the happiness of each one.

“Be compassionate, so that your actions will shine like unto the light streaming forth from the lamp. If the whole world should arise to deny this Cause, we must not fight. Our only role is to spread the teachings. If it be accepted, all is well; if not, leave the people to God.

“If we see a man acting after this manner we can say of him: ‘Verily, he is a reflector of servitude!’ We cannot conceive of a star without light, a tree without seed. If we claim to be followers of light, we must diffuse the light through our actions. To label ourselves will not be sufficient.

“There are five hundred million people who call themselves Christians. If you compare their deeds with the text of the Gospels, you will find no likeness thereto. The real Christians are rare. The Christ exhorted men to be kind. The Christians are fighting and killing one another, leading their young men into war, shedding blood, destroying dwellings, causing mothers to lose their sons and children their fathers. What has all this to do with the teachings of Christ? Is a man whose highest aim is bloodshed a Christian? Christ suffered in order to teach kindness. “O Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Thus he pardoned his murderers. How merciful he was!

“The advanced men of all time have ever been persecuted and continually in adversity. He who discovered the movement of the earth and the relative immobility of the sun terminated his days in prison, because his teachings did not please the priests.

“One who is wise in the ways of God sees that his words and deeds reflect the glory of God. I hope that the light of this glory may shine forth from each one of you, for this is the decisive proof – for this Baha’u’llah suffered – that he might educate men to become the educators of the world and spread truth abroad.
. . .

“When the prophets of God appear upon this earth, their validity is established by means of certain proofs. One of the proofs is through the fulfillment of former prophecies. The second proofs are their creative words and phrases which salute the hearts of humanity. The third are their deeds, and the fourth are their teachings.
. . .
. . .

At a time when the East was enshrouded with superstition and hatred, Baha’u’llah flooded these regions with his glorious light. Under the chains he unfurled the flag of the oneness of the world of humanity; in the prisons he spread the principles of universal peace and brotherhood; from behind the barracks he wrote his famous epistles to the kings and rulers of the world, arraigning the oppressors of the earth and calling upon them in the name of God the exalted not to place their sovereignty above that of His Highness the Almighty. He admonished them on the part of the wronged ones to listen to the call of the new day else their kingdoms would pass out of their hands and would fall into the hands of others. “Know that brotherhood hath been proclaimed – even so hath this matter been recorded upon a mighty tablet with the strong pen of God.” . . .

A supreme proof is the teaching. For instance the precepts of Christ were sufficient proof of his validity. There is no greater proof than these teachings. They were the light of that cycle and the spirit of that age. All that he said accorded with the needs of the humanity of that time. They were peerless and unique.

Consider His Holiness Baha’u’llah and his teaching. They are the spirit of this cycle – the light of this age. They illumine the dark places of humanity, for they address themselves to the heart of the race. For instance, the greatest evil of this century is war. In the new age Baha’u’llah has prohibited war. The need of this century is universal peace – Baha’u’llah has instituted it. The most urgent requisite of mankind is the declaration of the oneness of the world of humanity – this is the great principle of Baha’u’llah. That which will leaven the human world is a love that will insure the abandonment of pride, oppression, and hatred. The principles of Baha’u’llah are the remedy and balm for the wounded world; and without their inculcation, reconciliation between the nations will not be reached. These very teachings of Baha’u’llah are the greatest proofs of his claim. Such a power hath appeared from him as will suffice to convince the whole world.

The proof of the sun is its light and heat.

(Abdu’l-Baha, Divine Philosophy, p. 38)”

Christians, please take note: the title “Baha’u’llah” is Arabic for “Glory of the Lord.” Baha’is are people who are satisfied that His teachings represent the return of the Christ in the glory (= “Radiance,” Baha) of the Father.

Analysts need to lead the discussion of the alienations and hatreds of the Middle East back to a common ethical root: the oneness of humanity and the urgency of actual physical global problems such as the need for renewable energy to curb and reverse climate disruption.

Instead of wrangling which sectors of the One Percent will commit warfare and atrocities first, why not emphasize the need to meet the needs of the Ninety-Nine Percent in the Middle East through, for example, solar energy, thus bypassing the “need” for oil wars and nuclear power?

What analysts need to do also is to lead the world to non-adversarial forms of self-government by studying the models of such forms of self-government ordained in the Baha’i writings and being practiced and developed by the Baha’i world community.

John Dale,

Posted by Earthscreams | Report as abusive

No war with Iran and losing more American lives, your fight is yours!! NOT the USA’s fight!
Close to 5000 American boys lost along with two and half trillion spent to protect Israel from “WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION in Iraq and none were found?! NOW It’s a Irans threat of nuc’s that was even opened to U.N. inspection and none found, but Israel sits on a pile of nuc’s??? Is there something not fair about this pcture!
Remeber the USS Liberty, the Lavon affair, Beruit bombings, Americans KILLED for???? Zionism??!
More and more and hopefully more Americans and Jewish Americans are waking up to this looking the gift horse in the mouth syndrome! It’s obious there is no respect for the USA from Israel!

GOD loves biblical Israel, and it’s peoples, but am sure NOT the Zionist goverment!

Just leave the USA out of it, please! and maybe not being the only Halocaust victims,, Israel won’t even regonize the Armenian holocaust!!!???? shameless self-centered selfishness with entitlement issues!
AND of course your always a anti-semite if you speak the truth, even if you are a Jew! America FIRST!

Posted by swingdancerfool | Report as abusive

The Hoover Institution is eternally grinding out pro-Israel, pro-corporate and pro-military industrial complex propaganda. They have no credibility except on Fox news and in The Washington Times.

Posted by dublin13 | Report as abusive

I don’t understand why they say if Iran gets the bomb, only we will have the power to take out the leadership. Doesn’t Israel have nukes???

Posted by jason1234gh | Report as abusive

The sooner the ignorant liberals understand that Obama is a black muslim, the better – Bibi, nuke the ragheads

Posted by jackdanielsesq | Report as abusive