The increased chatter about an imminent Israeli attack on Iran has made the Iranian leadership nervous and heightens their level of unpredictability. In his Friday sermon, Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told Iranians that if his country is attacked, it would be “ten times worse for the interests of the United States than it would be for Iran.” He added, “Threatening Iran and attacking Iran will harm America, and added, “Sanctions will not have any impact on our determination to continue our nuclear course … In response to threats of oil embargo and war; we have our own threats to impose at the right time.”
ABC-News recently reported that Israeli facilities in North America and around the world are on high alert. Iran’s threat to target Jews and Jewish institutions worldwide are taken very seriously, especially in light of the July 1994 bombing attack – carried out by Iran’s sub-contractors, Hezbollah – that killed 85 people and injured hundreds when they destroyed the Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires.
On Friday, February 3, 2012, Khamenei called Israel a “cancer tumor” that would definitely be cut off, and according to a report this past Sunday on Israel’s Channel 2 TV, the head of the Iranian Parliament’s research center, Ahmed Tavakoli, called for a pre-emptive missile attack on Israel before the end of the year to prevent an Israeli attack on the Islamic Republic.
Israel’s superior intelligence and geographic proximity to Iran prompts it to take action against Iran while they feel it is still possible. President Obama is currently more concerned about getting elected in November than he is about Iran becoming a nuclear power and a worldwide menace. A U.S. strike against Iran would help boost his reelection chances, however, there is a risk of economic consequences – like skyrocketing oil prices – which might further damage the U.S. and global economy, and possibly ruin his chance for re-election. Clearly, Israel cannot wait for Obama to act, and will not ask Obama’s permission to deal with its existential threat.
Sanctions, as the Ayatollah Khamenei stated, will not deter Iran from obtaining a nuclear bomb. Yet, President Obama is counting on diplomacy and the sanctions to avoid war. He may yet face the shame of being considered a “second Neville Chamberlain” for his appeasement of Iran, and the war, when it inevitably comes, will be more costly.
This chatter, then, about an imminent Israeli attack, from both from American and Israeli leaders, is unproductive and dangerous. The Islamic Republic is fully cognizant of Israel’s military capabilities, knowledge of which has served to deter them starting a war against the Jewish State. Iran’s “messianic” leadership, however, is heavily influenced by eschatology of martyrdom and, to expedite the arrival of the Hidden Imam (the Shiite messiah); it may unleash a preemptive strike against both Israel and the U.S. with grave consequences. It would be much better therefore to “speak softly and use a big stick.”
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