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The 33-year farce of Western appeasement of Iran may be reaching its denouement. For the last few months, the pace of events have quickened as the West sanctions and threatens, and Iran blusters about closing the Strait of Hormuz, cutting off oil to Europe, and unleashing its terrorist proxies. Just last week Iran’s “Supreme Leader” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei subtly suggested that Iran would step up its already considerable support of terrorist outfits targeting Israel and the U.S.: “From now on, in any place, if any nation or any group confronts the Zionist regime, we will endorse and we will help. We have no fear expressing this.” Indulging traditional Islamic anti-Semitic language, Khamenei said Israel was a “cancerous tumor that should be cut and will be cut,” and claimed that the U.S. would suffer defeat and damage its regional prestige if it decides to use military force to stop the country’s nuclear program.
Meanwhile, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has said there was a “strong likelihood” that Israel would attack Iran in April, May, or June of this year, a supposition reinforced by French President Nicolas Sarkozy. And Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said in his remarks at the Herzilya Conference that Iran’s “military nuclear program is steadily nearing ripeness and is about to enter the ‘immunity zone.’ From that point on, the Iranian regime will be able to act to complete the program, with no effective disturbance and a time that is convenient for it.” The backdrop of this war of words is the West’s imposition of yet more sanctions, while the Iranian regime once again rope-a-dopes the International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors, and rumors of American troop concentrations in the region abound.
A constant in all this the diplomatic fencing is the threat of military action by Israel, along with the rumors surrounding such an event and speculations about the extent of Israel’s military capabilities. More important, however, is the unsavory way the Obama administration is using the threat of Israeli military action to influence Iranian behavior, at the same time it positions itself to avoid any responsibility for an attack. Thus Panetta publicly has been warning Israel against attacking, listing all the “unintended consequences” that would follow, at the same time the U.S. demands that Israel do nothing without alerting the United States in advance. However, despite these public warnings to Israel, it has long been clear that the administration’s diplomatic efforts have all been underwritten by the implicit threat that Israel will take unilateral military action. So it is that Israel is made the Dirty Harry of the Middle East, her actions decried by Western nations too cowardly to do what they know needs to be done, as in 1981, when Israel destroyed Iraq’s Osirak atomic reactor only to be condemned by the United States.
For make no mistake, Iran cannot be allowed to succeed in manufacturing nuclear weapons, or even achieving “nuclear latency,” the ability rapidly to produce them when needed. Such armaments in the hands of an Iranian regime besotted with apocalyptic Twelver Shi’ism and religiously sanctioned Jew-hatred would radically reconfigure the Middle East, sparking nuclear proliferation in the region and endangering not just Israel, but a large portion of the world’s oil supply. Yet on her own, Israel can at best delay Iran’s progress for at best three to five years. Apart from the logistical challenges of such a complex attack, nuclear production facilities in Iran have been dispersed into 17 known sites, many of which have been moved deep underground into fortified bunkers and tunnels.
The fallout of such an attack, moreover, could hit Israel hard. By Israeli estimations, Iran’s proxy Hezbollah has stockpiled in Lebanon 50,000 missiles, which can reach every corner of Israel. Following the fall of Mubarak and the ascendancy of the Muslim Brothers, the southern border with Egypt is no longer secure, thus providing an avenue for Hamas terrorist attacks. A beleaguered Bashar al Assad in Syria could distract attention from his slaughter of Syrians by attacking Israel in the Golan. Although the United States has said it would defend Israel in these circumstances, it is not certain how reliable that pledge is in an election year, with a U.S. president who already has shown by his actions a marked dislike for Israel. After all, this is a president who counts Turkey’s Recep Erdogan as one of his closest international buddies, despite Turkey’s naked support for the genocidal Hamas, but who publicly disparages Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu. Certainly, Israel would find little sympathy and support in the U.N. or the E.U. after an attack on Iran.
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