In the Arena

Bibi Berserk About Iran

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Bibi Netanyahu had a whole lot to say about Iran at Davos, and all of it was bellicose. This part, especially:

“I think we are going to have to deal with neutralizing the power of the mother regime,” he said. “The Hamas stronghold would be about as important, if Iranian power was neutralized, as Cuba was when the Soviet Union became irrelevant.”

Neutralize, eh? This is, of course, nonsense. If Israel wants Iran neutralized, it is going to have to go it alone–and I mean really alone, since the US won’t support such a war and the countries that lie between Israel and Iran won’t permit overflights. But why, you might ask, is Bibi so het up about banging Iran? Here it is:

“What is not reversible is the acquisition of nuclear weapons by a fanatic radical regime … We have never had, since the dawn of the nuclear age, nuclear weapons in the hands of such a fanatical regime,” he claimed.

I’m no fan of the mullahs, but their international behavior–however noxious their support for Hamas and Hizballah may be–has not been irrational. As the National Intelligence Estimate of 2007 reported, the Iranian government does respond to international diplomatic pressure. It’s not impossible that a smarter, more creative international campaign might provide enough pressure–and enough incentives–to dissuade Iran from proceeding with its nuclear enrichment program. On the other hand, if I’m the Supreme Leader and Israel persists in threatening to “neutralize” Iran, I’m going to develop a nuclear weapon as quickly as possible to deter possible Israeli aggression.

In fact, the world should be far more worried about the nuclear arsenal possessed by Pakistan, a state in real danger of collapse. Certainly, Netanyahu’s xenophobic view of the global situation, at a time of real economic crisis, isn’t going to increase Israel’s minimal stock of friends in the world. One hopes, should he win the election, that he tones down the rhetoric lest Israel be mistaken for a “fanatic radical regime.” 

Update: On the other hand, there’s something wonderful about a country that has an election campaign with ads like this one.