Who’s Next?, as Tom Lehrer sang

OK, so the name should have been a give-away, but I am slightly obtuse. Gideon Rachman, one of the most worthwhile reads in the FT (which is going some) is, almost certainly, of the Hebraic persuasion, as the ol’ anti-Semite code used to have it. Not that that changes anything, just explains why he writes so much (and well) about the Middle East I guess.

His recent (24 Feb) piece “Nuclear Iran? Decision time is here” deserves closer attention than I am about to give it.

Ephraim Kam, of the Jaffe Centre for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University, is fairly typical in arguing that a combination of Israeli and US nuclear deterrence would mean that “Iran will not use nuclear weapons, not against us and not against any other country.”

Quite. Whatever happened to deterrence? Do we really think the Iranians are suicidal?

An Iran with nuclear weapons could destabilise the region in numerous ways. It could back radical Islamist movements such as Hizbollah and Hamas with more energy and less fear of reprisals. It could threaten and intimdate the oil states of the Gulf. It could frighten more of the educated and mobile Israeli middle class into emigrating. And it could precipitate a destabilising arms race across the region- as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the Gulf States and Turkey all rushed to go nuclear.

Yes, that would be the same tactic of politicide that the Israeli’s have used to such great effect in the Occupied Territories: make life so unbearable that anyone who can, leaves. That’d be the well-educated, the middle-classes who would lead social movements and other forms of viable resistance. A jail with three walls… The late Baruch Kimmerling even wrote a book about it… Sigh.

Would a military attack work- or would Iran be able to rebuild swiftly? Would Iranian retaliation lead to a broader military conflict across the Gulf region- the home of US military bases and much of the world’s oil? Would Israel attack if Washington held back?

Well, that’s the nub of the issue, isn’t it? The Israelis have expended a lot of energy on having their very own nuclear deterrent. You can kind of see their point. Given what the UK and US have allowed to happen in the past, would you, in their shoes, with your back really really the wall, trust the Gentiles not to sell you out? Not if you were sane.
They have airborne nukes, submarine nukes, and land-based nukes. And guess what. Those nukes can reach Europe. That is enough to concentrate anyone’s mind.

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About dwighttowers

Below the surface...
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