Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Iran Nuclear Scare Timeline Update XXXIX:
Israel's Pompous Posturing & Idle Threats

There are few things Israel and its war-mongering supporters here in the United States hate more than not being taken seriously as a fearless and invincible military powerhouse, able to threaten and destroy its perceived adversaries at will and with totally impunity and unaccountability.

One of those things is being considered weak, tentative, and incapable. Another is not being considered at all.

It is no wonder, then, that recent comments by former Mossad chief Meir Dagan about Israel's inability to attack Iran have been met with frustration and consternation by those hoping for a military strike, or at very least, the credible threat of one.

In the wake of Israeli cabinet minister Moshe Ya'alon's call this week for the "civilized world" to collectively launch an illegal assault against Iran on Israel's behalf, Dagan - who has recently been playing the role of Hasbara Spoiler Extraordinaire by referring to the advocacy for such an attack as "the stupidest thing I have ever heard" - again spoke up, saying that Israel would be unable to withstand the potential blowback from such an action.

Ha'aretz reports:

Speaking during a conference in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, Dagan continued his public rejection of a military move against Iran, saying that Israel didn't "have the capability to stop the Iranian nuclear program, only to delay it."

"If anyone seriously considers [a strike] he needs to understand that he's dragging Israel into a regional war that it would not know how to get out of. The security challenge would become unbearable," Dagan said.

The former Mossad chief reiterated his position, saying that the "military option is the last alternative, not preferred or possible, nut a last resort. Every other alternative must be weighed before the use of force."

Referring to those who criticized him for speaking out on these matters soon after his retirement, Dagan said: "I feel obligated to express my opinion on certain matters. The prime minister and defense minister are the ones in charge, but sometimes good sense and a good decision don't have anything to do with being elected."
Dagan's comments, and willingness to challenge the conventional wisdom, bellicose posturing, and aggressive overconfidence of the Israeli establishment, is reminiscent of statements made by then-outgoing Israeli Prime Minster Ehud Olmert during a much-lambasted "legacy interview" with Yediot Ahronot in September 2008.

With reference to the constant Israeli threats and rumors of a unilateral and unprovoked assault on Iran (often issued by the Prime Minister himself), Olmert revealed the hollowness of such rhetoric by admitting, "Part of our megalomania and our loss of proportions is the things that are said here [in Israel] about Iran. We are a country that has lost a sense of proportion about itself."

Towards the end of the interview, Olmert said, "What I am saying to you now has not been said by any Israeli leader before me." He concluded, "The time has come to say these things."

It appears that, in his retirement, the time had finally come for Dagan as well.

"An attack on Iran would mean regional war, and in that case you would have given [Iran] the best possible reason to continue the nuclear program because the Iranians would then claim, 'We have been attacked by a foreign country that is reported to have a military nuclear capability. Now we have no choice but to defend...against a country with strategic capabilities - a compelling and principled argument for them to move to a large nuclear program," Dagan remarked at the Tel Aviv seminar. He elaborated, "It is important to know that that war would not just be against Iran. It would be a regional war that would include Syria - if we needed to attack Hezbollah targets in Syrian territory."

The increased Bomb Iran hysteria over a newly-released IAEA report which, in truth, says nothing new, enlightening or damning about the Iranian nuclear program has been countered this week with the publication of Seymour Hersh's latest New Yorker article debunking claims about the Iranian nuclear threat and, now, Dagan's new comments.

As the likelihood of either a U.S. or Israel attack on Iran becomes more and more absurd (despite what career war-mongers would have you believe), it is instructive to recall what Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had to say about this matter during an interview with Charlie Rose in May 2010:
Charlie Rose: Do you fear that war may come?

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: Who would attack Iran?

CR: No one, I assume.

MA: I mean, you can't just assume. Assumptions aren't made in the heavens. They're made on earth. Who's going to -- on this earth, who's going to attack Iran on this planet?

CR: Do you believe Israel --

MA: Russia?

CR: No.

MA: China?

CR: No. The United States, no.

MA: Then who?

CR: Would Israel attack Iran?

MA: Israel isn't even counted. It doesn't even factor into our equation. It's not even counted.

So who's going to attack us? There's no one there to attack us so there will be no war. We don't think about war. We think about peace. We think about friendships. We think about cooperation, not about war.
During an interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos the next day, a similar exchange occurred, after Stephanopoulos claimed that "it's also been pretty clear to most observers that if Iran continues on this path [of continuing to enrich uranium] that the state of Israel will take matters into its own hands. And take out Iran's nuclear programs through military means." The President replied, "Iran will definitely continue its path. You should not even doubt that we will continue our path. We'll definitely continue our path."

The conversation continued:
George Stephanopouos: But aren't you playing with fire? The potential of an Israeli military strike?

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: No.

GS: Why not?

MA: Those who have stockpiled their bombs and impose their will on others and act unlawfully are the ones who are playing with fire. Have we stockpiled bombs? Do we have atomic bombs? Who has used the nuclear bomb? Is it us stockpiling nuclear bombs? Do we possess a nuclear bomb? Who has the nuclear bomb? Who threatened other with nuclear bomb? We or the Government of the United States?

GS: So, a military strike--

MA: Allow me, who's dangerous? Who wants to attack us?

GS: Me?

MA: I'm asking you, who's going attacking Iran?

GS: No, I'm talking about the potential threat against Iran.

MA: I'd like to ask you when you say this, which group are you referring to is going to attack Iran? The United States? Is it the United States gonna attack Iran? Is the United States going to attack Iran?

GS: No, I asked are you worried a potential--

MA: Have you ever heard of that?

GS: --Israeli military strike against Iran.

MA: They're not a factor, in our defense doctrine, we don't even count them.

GS: You don't plan for that at all?

MA: They're finished, the Zionist regime is finished. They can't even manage Gaza. They want to get into a conflict with Iran? Everybody knows about this and I'm surprised that you as a professional journalist don't know. All world politicians know about it.

The Zionist regime can't manage Gaza, do they want to get into a conflict with Iran?
Later in the year, Ahmadinejad again addressed the suggestion of an Israeli attack during an interview with the Qatari newspaper Al-Sharq. "I believe that some think about attacking Iran, especially those within the Zionist entity," he said. "But they know that Iran is an indestructible bulwark and I do not think their American masters will let them do it."

Dagan voiced his belief Wednesday that a conflict with Iran was not yet "unavoidable" and urged the Netanyahu administration "not to make a decision to attack Iran," continuing:
It is important to consider all options and not to run straight for the war option. At the moment no decision has been made to attack Iran, and I am not familiar with any decision to attack in 2011 or 2012."
Despite the war-mongering and empty threats, the truth is clear. And whatever their myriad differences, Dagan and Ahmadinejad (along with anyone else who's paying attention) can surely agree on one thing:

There is absolutely no chance Israel will launch an attack on Iran, this, next, or any other year.

And neither will the United States.


UPDATE: In early November 2009, Ha'aretz reported that, in an interview with Sky News, Israel's "Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon has said that Israel is not bluffing in its threats to take military action against Iran's contentious nuclear program" and quoted Ayalon:
"The one who's bluffing is Iran, which is trying to play with cards they don't have. All the bravado that we see and the testing and the very dangerous and harsh rhetoric is hiding a lot of weaknesses."
Truer words have never been spoken...about Israel, that is.



Ibrahamav said...

And your point? I don't believe that Israel ever stated that it had the ability to strike Iran. Additionally, with Iran spreading out its program into so many far-flung areas, a single strike would do little good. I believe Israel is counting on the US to take out any serious threat from Iran as a nuclear Iran is a direct threat to US interests in the Middle East.

As far as Ahmadinejad's opinion, he also doesn't believe there are any homosexuals in Iran. I suspect his opinion is rather worthless.

Nima Shirazi said...

1. Israel has repeatedly threatened Iran with an attack, conducted war games planning for such an operation, and has often boasted of its ability to carry out such an attack.

2. A "single strike" doesn't mean dropping one bomb on one facility. It means a coordinated assault on as many targets as possible during a single combat mission.

3. Thank you for admitting that a potentially nuclear-armed Iran (a fantasy, but let's go with the theoretical premise anyway for the moment) poses a great threat to U.S. interests in the Middle East; that is, an Iran than has the deterrent firepower not to be threatened or intimidated by the world's only superpower challenges American (and Israeli) hegemony in the region, rather than posing an "existential threat" to anyone. That is, it's an ideologically, anti-imperial threat, not a military threat. Thanks again for pointing this out.

4. Using the worn-out "Ahmadinejad doesn't believe there are any homosexuals in Iran" line as a means to dismiss everything else he says is not only irrelevant, it's actually disingenuous.

Personally, I think that what Ahmadinejad said at Columbia University in 2007 regarding gays in Iran was itself both silly and ignorant. Yet, we should actually talk about what he actually said, not what his detractors accuse him of saying.

He did not say that there are no gay people in Iran; he stated that there is not the same kind of gay culture in Iran as there is in the United States.

As Iran analyst Hooman Majd (who is very critical of Ahmadinejad, yet has also served as a translator and guide to the Iranian president for a number of his visits to the U.S.) has explained:

"In fact, I was with Ahmadinejad the day that he made that speech, and I said to someone, 'I can't believe that was translated the way it was.' This is not a defense of Ahmadinejad, but what he said in Farsi was, 'We don't have homosexuality as you do here.' What he meant is that they don't have a gay-rights movement or an activist gay culture or gay pride and parades in Iran. That doesn't mean they won't develop these things-they didn't really happen in America until the '60s. But I think that the idea that you can do things in Iran as long as you don't talk about them is very much a part of the culture."

This may be a minor distinction (albeit technically true), and still an offensive comment to make, but I think it's important to note that he never said that there aren't any homosexuals in Iran.

Ibrahamav said...

I missed the declaration that a "potentially nuclear-armed Iran (which is as much a fantasy as a nuclear-armed Pakistan) poses a great threat to U.S. interests in the Middle East"

It is a threat, not a great threat. Iran would not have any deterrent power against the US. more in the nature of a very annoying mosquito or mouse.

The use of phrases that show Ahmadinejad to be close to a fruit cake is the same as your repeated use of hasbara when you wish to make a point. Of course, unlike hasbara, showing Ahmadinejad to be a fruitcake still has legs. There are the same kinds of gays as there are in the US. They are in hiding, fearing for their lives.

Nima Shirazi said...

@Ibrahamav -

You just equated Iran, which has exactly zero nuclear weapons, to Pakistan, which has an arsenal of over 100 nuclear warheads. Bravo.

You also said that Iran was a "direct" threat to the United States. Forgive me for implying that you believe a "direct threat" to be a "great threat" to the United States. Obviously, you do not believe that a "direct" threat is a "great" threat, but only a minor annoyance.

And, again, as Majd explained, the issue is not that homosexuals themselves are different in Iran than they are here in the U.S., but rather that "they don't have a gay-rights movement or an activist gay culture or gay pride and parades in Iran."

You keep using a strawman to repeat the "no gays in Iran" stuff about Ahmadinejad. Even if Ahmadinejad, as you keep trying to show, were a raging homophobe, this has absolutely no bearing on the quotes I've used or why I've used them. It would also be utterly irrelevant to question of the Iranian nuclear program.