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The U.S. Central Command, whose area of responsibility is the greater Middle East, has already asked the Pentagon what to do should Israeli aircraft invade Iraq’s airspace on their way to Iran. According to multiple sources, the answer came back: do not shoot them down.

If a strike does succeed in crippling the Iranian nuclear program, Israel will have removed from its list of existential worries the immediate specter of nuclear-weaponized, theologically driven, eliminationist anti-Semitism; it may derive for itself the secret thanks of the Middle East’s moderate Arab regimes, all of which fear an Iranian bomb with an intensity that in some instances matches Israel’s; and it will have succeeded in countering the spread of nuclear weapons in the Middle East, which is a prime goal of the enthusiastic counter-proliferator who currently occupies the White House.

Iran is, at most, one to three years away from having a breakout nuclear capability (often understood to be the capacity to assemble more than one missile-ready nuclear device within about three months of deciding to do so). The Iranian regime, by its own statements and actions, has made itself Israel’s most zealous foe; and the most crucial component of Israeli national-security doctrine is that no regional adversary should be allowed to achieve nuclear parity with the reborn and still-besieged Jewish state.

(Jeffrey Goldberg – Atlantic Monthly)

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