October 6, 2012
Israel, Please Don’t Follow the Bush Doctrine
During the American presidential election season, Israel has increased their speechifying regarding the possibility of an American-backed Israeli military strike against Iran. Suspected military-use nuclear facilities in the Fordow underground site the Iranians claim is for medical research would be the target of Israeli missiles. The preferred nation status of Israel in the eyes of the American government means that any such action, be it Iran acquiring weapon-delivery capability or an Israeli missile strike, would be the equivalent of starting a large-scale conflict or outright World War.
The international community has recently seen Iran materialize their long-held hostility and belligerence. The Associated Press reports that Iran shut down International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections of the rumored nuclear enrichment facility on the 24th of August, 2012. Given the historical rhetoric of the rogue state towards Israel, such a seemingly dramatic increase in confrontational activity proves Iran to be an existential threat to the Jewish state. Apprehension is spiking among America, and its allies, and interested parties; however, Israel should avoid the Bush Doctrine of first strike. The “loose talk of war” is a strategy used by the American Right; deliberately paint the current Chief Executor of the Constitution as weak on foreign policy in an effort to spice up an exceedingly weak Republican nominee, coinciding with a nativist appeal to the same religious conservative base that narrowly decided the election for Bush in 2004.
In a Boston Review article, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Professor and often cited nuclear weapons expert Ted Postol stipulates that the “ideological assumption of the extreme right of the Republican party” is that Iran is an irrational actor. Iran, in this view, does not care if it is destroyed, because they are so hell-bent on destroying Israel and defeating the West. It is a ridiculous notion that Israel feels threatened given America is their ally. Were Iran irrational, the Strait of Hormuz would already be on fire. Rationality, on the other hand, is why American intelligence can account for the change in chemical make-up of the soil composition around Fordow. The idea that Iran is incapable of rational action is without successful historical precedent.
Speaking of dangerous men faced down by American might (Hitler, Mao, Stalin), Professor Postol advances against the ‘Iran is irrational’ argument unambiguously: “They certainly showed a high degree of rationality with regard to the dangers these weapons posed, even though I don't think that many people would regard them as having been relatively gentle with their adversaries. So I don't really see a sudden emergent threat of this kind: a threat of an irrational political leader, who controls a state, does not care if the state is destroyed, has weapons of mass destruction, and the ability to put those weapons on ballistic missiles. And if you did come up against a threat of this kind, then you would have face the facts about feasibility.”
Feasibility, in this case, means that current sanctions and other regulatory efforts are isolating Iran even from its allies. Empirical evidence that a nuclear-armed Iran can or will ever exist is weak and unsupported and no weapon is known to exist; no weapon is likely to exist before America knows it exists; no weapon, once inconceivably developed, can be delivered via ICBM (Intercontinental Ballistic Missile) by Iran in any meaningful timeframe, and certainly not before America knows about it. Any argument to the contrary ignores these established facts, but not without intent.
There is more than enough time for sanctions and high-level diplomacy to continue-- six, maybe as long as eight years start anew each day America and Israel maintain their vigilance. There is more than plenty of time for the current diplomatic agenda to continue pushing towards compliance those partners, allies and even American corporations that are working against Israel, America, and their joined interests. Matthew Scuffham and Jonathan Gould of Reuters News Organization say that the Royal Bank of Scotland, which is an 82% taxpayer-owned British Bank, and Germany’s CommerzBank are both involved in current investigations; this willingness to cooperate with American authorities to discover and rectify any misdealing with Iran epitomizes American power.
It is impossible to understate China’s importance as a global trading partner. They were caught making moves to skirt tougher sanctions, including those implemented by the Obama Administration—and they weren’t alone. A New York Times article by Jessica Silver-Greenberg dated August 30th reveals “…that Chinese banks may have flouted United States sanctions against Iran. Now, as they investigate global banks suspected of funneling billions of dollars through their American branches to Iran and other sanctioned nations, the prosecutors are looking for transactions that could offer more information on the banks’ dealings with Iran.” Additionally, in February of this year, a David Evans and Asjylyn Loder investigation on behalf of Bloomberg News “found that Koch Industries -- in addition to being involved in improper payments to win business in Africa, India and the Middle East -- has sold millions of dollars of petrochemical equipment to Iran, a country the U.S. identifies as a sponsor of global terrorism.” Just two examples of how current sanctions are smoking out America’s enemies: Chinese and American businesses, both working to undermine and profit from the American-led global effort against terrorism. That can’t be good.
Charles and David Koch, libertarian billionaire owners of Koch Industries, aren’t the kind of folks who simply commit what looks like treason, walk away unpunished, and keep their tails between their legs like good felons. Instead, according to Jim Allen and Mike Vandehei of Politico, which is generally considered a down the middle political website, the ancestors of war-profiteer and John Birch Society founder Fred Koch have pledged in excess of $400 million to defeat the incumbent American President. This is their right--Citizens United and other recent Supreme Court decisions allow for unlimited corporate spending in elections. In this case, their motive appears to be darker than to merely further the usual partisan political policy discussions. This financial attempt to influence the November 6th election cannot be seen as disconnected from their support of the terrorist state.
Then there is Ralph Reed. Reed (a Grover Norquist and Jack Abramoff crony for readers who remember the turn of the century or have access to the internet) is a longtime conservative evangelical activist who is using a vast network of connected churches to reach millions of Christian voters this year through surveys. The one linked below asks respondents to compare the President, as in, ‘is he worse than Hitler, or the worse than Civil War?’ This is a coordinated effort by the American Right, and they are smearing President Obama as an ineffectual and unwise leader, specifically in foreign policy, describing separation between Israel and America where there truly is no daylight. The conscious hope on the Republican aisle is that voters calling themselves ‘Christian’ will turn out not for Mr. Romney, but against Mr. Obama. As long as no Israeli military strike occurs before November, electioneering for the Romney candidacy can revolve around this perceived weakness in the popular President.
Rachel Tabachnik is a leading researcher, author and expert on the impact of the American Religious Right in politics and foreign policy. Her response to an email asking directly if Israel should strike Iran's nuclear facilities was very succinct: “The U.S. population is war weary, but some Americans view Iran through the lens of End Times prophecy and believe that war with Iran is part of that timeline.” These are the voters Condoleezza Rice was reaching out to when, at the Republican National Convention, the former Secretary of State and torture-apologist intimated that Barack Obama was “muting” America’s voice by not more immediately assigning military might to intervene in support of Israel.
Former Bush advisor Karl Rove and current Romney senior advisor Ed Gillespie gave a strong admonition to conservatives in an op-ed for Foreign Policy magazine in March of this year. Their view is that the best Republican hope to win the general Presidential election is to run a nationalistic campaign depicting the President as naïve and incompetent. The intensifying of metaphorical violence between perennial enemies, given the relative impossibility of a weapon existing or being delivered from Iran to Israel, can then be reasonably seen as more a campaign strategy suggestion, and less a surfacing threat to America’s ally.
Nationalistic war-mongering rarely has been so proudly on display as it was during Republican nominee Mitt Romney’s acceptance speech to delegates at the Republican National Convention. The would-be President took aggressive verbal swipes at Iran, China, and Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin. This hawkish attitude stands in stark contrast to experience and what those who have it offer. Eight former senior military officials took out a full-page ad in the Washington Post in March 2012 advising against military intervention, by anyone, in Iran. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey, the highest ranking military official under the Commander in Chief, also has lobbied publicly and consistently for patience of the part of Israeli leaders. Writing for Foreign Policy, Josh Rogin reports that Mitt Romney has surrounded himself with foreign policy advisors from the previous Administration. Voters will be wise to remember this when discussing possible choices for the upcoming election with their families, neighbors, and communities at large.
Israel should not strike any suspected nuclear facility in Iran. Let the American President lead. Let America be exceptional. America must lead. Let America continue leading through sanctions enforcement and promised military might. While the standard conservative or even ‘Christian’ line of thought may disagree, the threat America and its allies face is indeed a “muted voice” should Israel preemptively strike Iran. No-one would be happier about such a strike than the architects who tricked America into the last two Wars.
Allen, Mike and Jim Vandehei. “GOP Group Plans Record $1 Billion Blitz.” Politico. Politico LLC, 30 May 2012. Web. 28 Aug. 2012
Cooper, Helen. “‘Loose Talk Of War’ Only Helps Iran, Says President.” Middle East. The New York Times, 4 Mar. 2012. Web. 28 Aug. 2012.
“Former Senior Military Officials Sign Full-page Ad Opposing ‘War Of Choice With Iran’.” Huff Post Iranathon. The Huffington Post.com, Inc., 5 Mar. 2012. Web. 27 Aug. 2012.
Jahn, George. “UN Agency Confirms Iran Expands Nuke Work and Shrouds Site, ‘Significantly’ Hampering Probe.” Newser. Associated Press, 30 Aug. 2012. Web. 30 Aug. 2012.
Kessler, Glenn. “Did Ahmadinejad Really Say Israel Should Be ‘Wiped Off The Map’?” The Fact Checker. The Washington Post, 5 Oct. 2011. Web. 27 Aug. 2012.
Loder, Asjylyn and David Evans. “Koch Brothers Flout Law Getting Richer With Secret Iran Sales.” Bloomberg.com. Bloomberg L.P., 3 Oct. 2011. Web. 29 Aug. 2012.
Postel, Theodore. “What’s Wrong With Missile Defense: An Interview With Ted Postol” by Joshua Cohen. Boston Review, Oct/Nov. 2001. Web. 28 Aug. 2012.
Rice, Condoleezza. “2012 Republican National Convention.” Live Broadcast. MSNBC. 29 Aug. 2012. Television.
“RNC 2012: Mitt Romney Speech To GOP Convention (Full Text).” WP Politics. The Washington Post, 30 Aug. 2012. Web. 30 Aug. 2012.
Rogin, Josh. “Romney Advisors Disagree On Iran.” FP: Foreign Policy. The Washington Post Company, 23 Aug. 2012. Web. 27 Aug. 2012.
Rove, Karl and Ed Gillespie. “How To Beat Obama.” FP: Foreign Policy. The Washington Post Company, Mar./Apr. 2012. Web. 29 Aug. 2012.
Scuffham, Matt and Jonathan Gould. “RBS, Commerzbank Drawn Into U.S. Iran Money Probe.” Reuters.com. Thomson Reuters, 22 Aug. 2012. Web. 30 Aug. 2012
Silver-Greenberg, Jessica. “Prosecutors Link Money From China To Iran.” Business Day. The New York Times, 29 Aug. 2012. Web. 30 Aug. 2012.
Tabachnick, Rachel. Personal Interview. 30 Aug. 2012