Benn concludes on a gloomy note: “Now, Israel is twiddling its thumbs, the defeated U.S. is pulling out of Iraq, and Iran is expediting uranium enrichment and [its] economy is flourishing in spite of the sanctions.”
That gloomy message was reinforced by another Israeli media report this week. It concerns, in fact, ex-MI chief Yadlin, who stated that “the only existential threat to Israel in the year 2011 and in the years that follow, is Iran.” Somehow that “only” lacks consolatory power. Yadlin, as noted, is said to have been among the four top-brass opponents of a strike, though some reports have described him as ambivalent on the matter.
According to Yadlin’s further statements, at least “ambivalence” is warranted—namely, that “if Iran succeeded in obtaining nuclear weapons, additional Middle Eastern countries would subsequently become nuclear-armed,” and that “a nuclear-armed Iran would be much more aggressive than the Islamic Republic currently is today.”
The article goes on to mention a Wikileaks cable saying that, by late 2009, Israeli Military Intelligence “held the view that by 2012 Iran could build one nuclear bomb within weeks or an arsenal within half a year.”
For the citizen without access to intelligence, it is not easy to say what Israel should do about this problem. But between the evil of a risky war and the evil of letting Iran go nuclear, logic indicates that the latter—which entails the materialization of a direct existential threat—is the greater one.
Some say Israel could cope with Iranian nukes through a combination of advanced missile defense and deterrence. Even if that were true—and it is a very shaky proposition—the prospect of a regional nuclear arms race would seem to be intolerable. A 2012 date for Iranian nuclearization (a Rand Corporation analyst puts the date even earlier—now) precludes waiting and hoping for a more realistic U.S. president.
Hence it’s to be hoped that, by clearing out the nay-sayers and replacing them with more amenable officials, Israel’s prime minister and defense minister are keeping their options open.
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