Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Slo-Mo Iran Missile Crisis

Fifty years after the world teetered on the brink of war in 1962 when the Soviet Union put missiles into Cuba 90 miles from the U.S., we have a more slowly unfolding nuclear crisis with Israel and Iran as our partners in the diplomatic death dance.

In Washington this week, the President tries both to reassure the Israeli prime minister of our firm backing to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons and to stay his hand from a preemptive strike to stop them.

“When he warns that an Israeli attack on Iran could backfire,” says a New York Times editorial, “and that ‘there is still a window’ for diplomacy, he is speaking for American and Israeli interests.

“Iran’s nuclear appetites are undeniable, as is its malign intent toward Israel, toward America, toward its Arab neighbors and its own people. Israel’s threats of unilateral action have finally focused the world’s attention on the danger. Still, there must be no illusions about what it would take to seriously damage Iran’s nuclear complex, the high costs and the limited returns.

“This would not be a ‘surgical’ strike like the Israeli attack in 1981 that destroyed Iraq’s Osirak reactor, or the 2007 Israeli strike on an unfinished reactor in Syria. Iran has multiple facilities, and the crucial ones are buried or ‘hardened.’ Pentagon analysts estimate that even a sustained Israeli air campaign would set back the program by only a few years, drive it further underground and possibly unleash a wider war.

“It would also cast the Iranian government as the victim in the eyes of an otherwise alienated Iranian public. It would tear apart the international coalition and undermine an increasingly tough sanctions regime, making it even easier for Iran to rebuild its program.”

Nonetheless, the President is under intense pressure from both Prime Minister Netanyahu and his would-be November opponents (save Ron Paul) to cowboy into a confrontation. (As a warmup, John McCain wants him to bomb Syria.)

In another dimension, the President and Premier may be playing some high-stakes version of good cop-bad cop. If so, the bad cop had better avoid overacting.

In his measured approach, Barack Obama is taking a leaf from John F. Kennedy half a century ago who said, “Above all, while defending our own vital interests, nuclear powers must avert those confrontations which bring an adversary to the choice of either a humiliating defeat or a nuclear war.”

Robert Kennedy was to write afterward, “Miscalculation and misunderstanding and escalation on one side can bring a counterresponse. No action is taken against a powerful enemy in a vacuum. A government or a people will fail to understand this at their great peril. For that is how wars begin—-wars no one wants, no one intends, and no one wins.”

Messrs. Netanyahu, Romney, Santorum and Gingrich, are you listening?

Update: “This is not a game,” the President says in a Super Tuesday news conference to answer his GOP critics. “The one thing we have not done is we have not launched a war. If some of these folks think we should launch a war, let them say so, and explain to the American people.”

The winner(s)will have ample chances to answer.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Obama can sit back and ignore the imminent threat Iran poses. Israel faces a true threat since its small area makes it highly vulnerable to any nuclear attack. One should also not ignore "dirty bombs" that Iran now possesses due to its supply of uranium. During a prior conflict (1967) Lyndon Baynes Johnson told Levi Eshkol the 3rd Prime Minister of Israel that if Israel attacked first Israel would be "going it alone". Now another Democratic President tells Israel not to protect its people against a nuclear holocaust. And Obama's comments reflect his intense desire to be re-elected despite the consequences. It should also be pointed out that "dirty bombs" could be used against American cities turning them into wastelands that would be uninhabitable for close to one million years. It is time for the American President to act in America's interest and stop Iran before even American fire power can't destroy Iran's nuclear facilities that are being ever more buried underground. The parallel to the Nazis is apparent. Obama if he continues to act as he has may be the "Neville Chamberlain" of the 21st century. Wake up America and stand by your ally and act in the US best interests. The most ridiculous comment made so far was by the American Chief of Staff when he said that "Iran will act rationally. Iran's actions are far from rational. To Iran this is a "holy war" directed against both Israel and the United States. It is more than time that the US draws "red lines' that Iran can't cross without an immediate military response. Obama can decide whether he wants to go down in history as a Neville Chambelain or Winston Churchill who warned against the Nazi war machine. Iran should not be a political issue but instead should seen as the very real threat it poses to Israel and the United States. While the US imposes sanctions Iran continues to pursue its nuclear program. Iran must be stopped before the world feels the very real consequences of a nuclear Iran.