Saturday, January 20, 2007
this is low, this is low life:
Richard Just insists he's not sold on a war with Iran by either Israel or the United States; he just wants to hector Brad for being insufficiently hysterical. He adds:
I will say this: If I were Israeli, I would be terrified of Iran getting a nuclear weapon. As an American Jew, I am terrified on Israel's behalf.
Richard's post is instructive for any number of reasons. For one thing, it shows how the proponents of war can easily set the terms of debate. Over the last few years, the IAEA has uncovered a great deal of information about the Iranian nuclear program, a fact acknowledged by left and right alike. As a result, the intelligence community doubled its estimate of the time it would take Iran to get a nuclear weapon -- from five years to ten. Should we take this as gospel? Of course not. But it's significant that the more we've learned about the Iranian nuclear program, the less capable the Iranians appear to actually produce a nuclear weapon. (This should hardly be surprising, given that the Iranians have flirted with nuclear production since the days of the Shah. Not that it's done them much good.)

And yet Richard believes we should be "terrified" of a threat that looks more remote upon closer inspection. In all likelihood, that's because Bush has yelled into his ear for years that Iran's nuclear progress is unacceptable, despite that progress not actually amounting to much, well, progress. The administration has stoked hysteria -- the events of the last week and a half demonstrate that it believes its own hysteria, and miscalculates accordingly -- and otherwise sensible people are reacting with credulity. Once again, Lucy's setting up the kick. If seeing through the gambit amounts to being cavalier, better to be cavalier.

One quick thing. I'm an American Jew. And I'm not really terrified on Israel's behalf. That, of course, doesn't mean I want to see Israel get nuked. It's because Israel has a massive nuclear arsenal and the most powerful military in the region by leaps and bounds; and it's also got a military doctrine that's big on preventive war. The most likely situation under which Iran uses its meager nuclear weapon in a decade or so against Israel is a situation in which Israel has already launched attacks on Iran. And that's a scenario that apparently Michael Orin and Yossi Klein Halevi are contemplating for a forthcoming issue of TNR. Such hysteria Israel doesn't need.
--Spencer Ackerman
Speaking as a fellow American Jew, and granting that the current Iranian leadership is both anti-Semitic and anti-Israel, I feel no terror on Israel's behalf, really. Simply put, the Iranians don't seem crazy. They have a way to gain tremendous leverage on the world stage, and are using it. Crazy is getting enmeshed in wars you can't win while harming yourself on the world stage. Israel trends lightly that way, and we are the champs. We have about a decade to negotiate with Iran before they get nukes, giving us two more elections to elect a grownup. I don't have much faith in America, but it shouldn't be that hard, should it?
Blogger jfaberuiuc | 12:33 PM