Nov 1, 2011

Speculation Growing About Possible Israeli First Strike Against Iran

Joel C. RosenbergBy Joel C. Rosenberg

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Speculation in Washington and the Middle East continues to grow about a possible Israeli preemptive military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities. This is in part because Iran is getting closer to building nuclear warheads, in part because of remarks Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke to the Knesset on Monday about the Iran threat, in part because former Vice President Dick Cheney recently speculated about an Israeli first strike, and in part because the Obama administration is publicly pressuring Israel not to hit first.

Israeli PM Netanyahu speaking before the Knesset on Oct. 31, 2011.“If I had to summarize what will happen in our region, I would use two terms: instability and uncertainty,” Netanyahu told his parliamentary colleagues Monday. “The collapse of Gaddafi’s regime in Libya, the bloody incidents in Syria, the American forces leaving Iraq, the new government in Tunisia, the upcoming elections in Egypt and many other events - these are all expressions of the immense changes occurring around us. These changes can increase the instability within these countries, and the instability between countries…. A nuclear Iran would pose a terrible threat on the Middle East and on the entire world. And of course, it poses a great, direct threat on us too…. A security philosophy cannot rely on defense alone. It must also include offensive capabilities, which is the very foundation of deterrence. We operate and will continue to operate intensely and determinately against those who threaten the security of the State of Israel and its citizens. Our policy is guided by two main principles: the first is ‘if someone comes to kill you, rise up and kill him first,’ and the second is ‘if anyone harms us, his blood is on his own hands.’”

I’ve never heard Netanyahu discuss those two principles before - they certainly lay the moral and strategic framework for preemptive military action, both against the Hamas terrorists that are firing rockets and missiles at Israel from Gaza, and against state enemies such as Iran.

Such developments echo major plot points in my new political thriller, The Tehran Initiative, but this is not fiction. Could a major new war in the region be coming later this year, or early next? It’s too early to say, but there is little question that senior Israeli officials are now actively weighing such an option, or that the Obama administration is deeply opposed. What would a Republican president do differently that President Obama to neutralize the Iran threat? That remains to be seen as none of the GOP contenders has yet offered a major policy address focused on the Iran issue.

Related Links

Analysts Believe Israel is Moving Closer to Iran Strike - The Atlantic (Jeffrey Goldberg)
Ya'alon: Israel must not depend on help against Iran - Jerusalem Post
Israel warns West: Window of opportunity to thwart Iran nuclear program is closing - Ha'aretz
Israel’s Barak Calls for Boosting Budget and Army Spending - Bloomberg
More Signs Israel Preparing to Launch Attack - BPB (Joseph Farah)