Israel-Iran War: Not Inevitable
by Rex Wingerter
Foreign Policy in Focus
A chorus of pundits has lately been arguing that an Israeli attack against Iran’s nuclear facilities is either inevitable or commendable. Recently, Jeffery Goldberg predicts in The Atlantic that Israeli will strike by next July. Reuel Marc Gerecht, an editor for the Weekly Standard, urges that regional stability calls for Israel wasting no more time in launching a pre-emptive hit. These arguments predictably come from the neoconservative crowd who urged the United States to topple Saddam Hussein as an avenue toward reaching regime change in Iran.
But similar voices have been heard outside the usual cohort. Nearly a third of House Republicans have signed onto a resolution endorsing a pre-emptive Israeli attack on Iran. A so-called Bipartisan Policy Center report coauthored by two former U.S. senators has foretold of an Israeli attack. The Joint Forces Quarterly, a publication of the National Defense University, recently counseled that the United States must “prepare for the inevitable aftermath” of an Israeli strike on Iran.
Common to the views of both the predictors and the prescribers is an apocalyptic view of Iranian nuclear attack on Israel. Inexplicably absent from the argument is any consideration as to why Iran would initiate a first strike attack on Israel. President Ahmadinejad’s vitriolic anti-Zionist, Holocaust-denying spew is unconscionable, but it does not translate into a clear-cut intent to launch a nuclear missile against Israel.
A report by the International Crisis Group recently described in chilling detail how Israel, Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran currently are poised in a precarious balance of terror. The slightest provocation or miscalculation could trigger carnage heretofore unseen in the modern Middle East, a catastrophe a strike on Iran surely would trigger.
An Israeli attack would bolster al-Qaeda’s propaganda that the United States is at war with Islam. Washington currently is at war in five Muslim countries (Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia). The Arab world and other majority Muslim countries would view the United States as wholly complicit in any Israeli attack, a Christian state supporting a Jewish state to make war against a sixth Muslim state. President Obama’s standing in the Arab world, which a new Pew Research opinion poll shows has precipitously dropped in the past year, would nose dive into an uncontrollable free fall, canceling out his vow to reach out to the Muslim world.
Among the many lessons drawn from the U.S. invasion of Iraq was that unintended consequences invariably flow from a war, even one of your own making. Current assurances that an Israeli attack on Iran would protect U.S. allies and bolster regional peace and stability should be treated with the same respect that we now treat the Bush administration’s assurances that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction.
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