At the beginning of the current government’s term three chief objectives were set: ending the economic crisis, returning Gilad Shalit, and eliminating the Iranian nuclear [program]. We’ve exited the economic crisis for some time, Shalit comes home Tuesday alive and well…
Two outa three ain’t bad. But this MK is telling his Facebook audience that Bibi’s goin’ for the Trifecta. The ellipsis after the word “well” says it all. And in case you have any doubt about the meaning of the word used in Hebrew (chisul) which I’ve translated as “eliminate,” it can also mean “liquidate” or “assassinate.” You get the idea.
A legitimate question to ask is whether in an Israeli context MK Shama-HaCohen is Michele Bachmann or Chuck Schumer. A trusted Israeli source tells me he’s the real deal who knows whereof he speaks. He comes out of a high-level intelligence background and chairs the Knesset’s economy committee . So imagine Chuck Schumer tells you, after Tom Friedman and Chris Mathhews have weighed in in the affirmative, that we’re about to attack Iran. Do you believe him?
Prof. Muhammad Sahimi, an Iranian-American expert on Iran’s nuclear program, has published a telling comment here about the prospect for war. I’ve known him and worked closely with him for two years and never known for him to call himself an “Iranian nationalist.” What is important about this is that a man of peace and science is telling you that when his country is threatened, no matter how much he hates the current ruling clique, he will rally round. In precisely the same way that almost any Jew, even those harshly critical of the Israeli government, would likely rally round if it faced an existential threat (a real one as opposed to Bibi’s imagined ones).
Prof. Sahimi predicts a protracted ten-year war in the event of an Israeli attack with the likelihood of little or no quarter given or offered by either side. Sahimi also warns that such a war will freeze the reform movement and whatever gains it might have made, while it will unify every Iranian (except the MEK) around the hated mullah regime. I can’t think of a worse outcome.
Let’s not forget the impact on Israel. The nascent social justice movement–dead. The left, anti-war, and human rights community, as small as they are–in the deep freeze. The Likud and hard settler-led right–dominating Israeli politics for the next decade at least. Israel will become a nation on permanent war footing. This would be the destruction of my dream for a truly democratic Israel. That couldn’t happen for a generation, unless Israel were defeated and the international community intervened to restore equilibrium and imposed a truly democratic system, and comprehensive peace deal on Israel.
What about the impact on the U.S.? We would become, as the Nixon presidency did during the 1973 War, Israel’s military guarantor. We would be responsible for arming Israel when the tap ran dry. The cluster bombs, bunker busters, F-16s–all from our stockpile. All the bodies stacked up on massive symbolic funeral pyres, would become a reflection on us, on our nation. We would become the enabler of regional war. Obama magnificent Cairo speech and grand plans for Middle East peace? Dead as a doornail. His entire presidency? Not much more sentient. Not an enviable position.
The only thing that is eating at me a bit is the question: if you were Bibi or Barak would you telegraph your intentions as they seem to have done? Past Israeli leaders surely wouldn’t have done so. Two answers: either it’s a grudge match and the hatred is so deep that Bibi can’t help gabbing about it to Israeli journos; or the current government with its unwieldy eight member senior ministerial decision-making body, is destined to leak like a sieve.
At any rate, I now believe that war is more likely than not. And the anti-war left must prepare as if war is coming. We should anticipate and begin our organizing for it now. If/when it comes, we’ll be ready or more ready than were we to be taken by surprise.