Tuesday, May 1, 2012
By Barry Rubin
"After a winter of alarm over the possibility that a military conflict over the Iranian nuclear program might be imminent, American officials and outside analysts now believe that the chances of war in the near future have significantly decreased." --New York Times, April 30, 2012
Or, as Homer Simpson would explain it, "Doh!"
I've been telling you this for a year but at least on this issue--unlike all the others in the Middle East---theTimes has finally caught on.
As you know, just about everyone in the world outside of Israel has been claiming that an attack is imminent or that it is only being held back by the U.S. government.
My argument has been that this is simply untrue. Most of the Israeli strategic and intelligence leadership oppose an attack, for the same reasons I do. Moreover, these people don’t believe it is going to happen in the near future.
We now have Yuval Diskin, director of the Shin Bet from 2005 to2011; Meir Dagan, former head of the Mossad; Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor; and assorted others who have come out against an attack.
Then there’s the commander of Israel’s military Benny Gantz who made a fascinating statement, though this has been widely misunderstood. Gantz seemed to contradict himself. He stated that Iran’s leaders were rational but also that radical Islamist ideologues might do wild things like attack Israel.
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How to square the contradiction? Simple. Gantz was making a suggestion. He was telling Tehran: Wouldn’t it be smarter to stop short of building nuclear weapons when you are technically able to do so? You have the option of getting them if and when you want them but you won’t be triggering an all-out confrontation including an Israeli attack if you take this way out of your dilemma.
Note that supposedly this is a point of dispute between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Barack Obama, in which Netanyahu demands that Iran has no capability at all to ever build nuclear weapons while Obama just wants Iran not to do so. Well, if there is such a conflict then why is Gantz endorsing Obama‘s plan?
Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His book, Israel: An Introduction, has just been published by Yale University Press. Other recent books include The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). The website of the GLORIA Center and of his blog, Rubin Reports. His original articles are published at PJMedia.