I'm not saying that Iran will nuke Israel when it gets the chance. Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is saying it, and I believe him.
When a man says he wants to start a second holocaust, this time on a larger scale and with nuclear weapons, which he then sets about to acquire, reasonable people take him seriously and act accordingly. Taking him seriously and acting accordingly does not mean you wait for him to make his maximally-deadly move. It means you take his move away from him before he makes it, or else your nation is wiped away forever.
Some nations cannot be trusted with nuclear weapons. Given its current militant leadership, Iran is one of them. Either Iran's friends must stop Iran, or else Iran's enemies must do it. Iran’s friends can accomplish this goal either by convincing the Iranian leadership to change its collective mind, or else by convincing the Iranian people to change their leadership. Perhaps I have missed it, but to date I have seen no indication that Iran's friends will or can talk Iran out of its destructive nuclear intentions. Maybe some of the more sensible powers that be in Iran can do it, or maybe they can effect a regime change. I don’t know. But if none of these things work, the options reduce to one: Israel must take action.
Israel has been trying to avert conflict with Iran in many ways short of nuclear confrontation. For that, it is to be commended. For example, I do not think it was an accident that several of the Russian experts who aided Iran’s nuclear dreams died in a recent plane crash. The Tupalev on which they died is a notoriously unsafe airplane. I’d be willing to call their joint demise just terrible bad luck were it not that such "accidents" have befallen others who helped Iran in this project. I also think that the recent cyber-crippling of Iran's nuclear program was a prudent effort, one made possible by help from Germany and the US.
Other lower level responses are still possible, though none have succeeded to date. If none ever succeeds, then higher level responses are all that’s left. Iran knows this. Israel knows this.
Yet, despite this knowledge and despite the opposition Iran has met on these lower, sub-nuclear, levels, it persists in its deadly project.
If Iran persists in its purpose to obliterate Israel, it must beware the dire consequences, which are certain to follow. No nation, Israel included, can sit patiently and passively by, awaiting its doom. It must react. In other words, Iran's future is up to Iran. I sincerely hope it will turn away from its deadly intentions immediately. Were it not to do so, the consequences are simply horrific.
Here’s what I mean:
Because the current Iranian leadership seems unable to resist the temptation to nuke Israel once it is able to do so, I cannot resist the conclusion that the Middle East will be set alight with the fires of nuclear weaponry whether Israel strikes first or not. I hate that prospect -- I simply hate it -- but absent an Iranian about-face, it will happen. Apparently the only thing separating us from this awful scenario is just the time it still takes Israel’s enemies to develop whatever capacity they deem necessary for this destructive action to be effective. I have no confidence whatever in Iran’s capacity for self-restraint on this point, not when its leadership tells the world plainly, publically, and repeatedly about its intention to wipe Israel off the map.
Given Ahmadinejad’s implacability, and given that every lower level attempt to foil Iran’s destructive intentions have failed, this awful conclusion seems unavoidable: Whatever weapon is not destroyed by Israel will be used against Israel, either before Israel acts or after. Given Ahmadinejad’s implacability, Israel’s options are now reduced to two: (1) either take out the Iranian leadership, or (2) pick the sequence of nuclear engagement: first strike or second. Unless the Iranian leadership changes radically, strikes there will be. Ahmadinejad has told us so. Israel, therefore, must destroy as much nuclear capability as possible before any enemy first use. It must do so in a way that forestalls any nuclear response. If it fails to do so, Israel will no longer exist. For Israel, that prospect is utterly unacceptable. For the Iranian leadership, it is a dream come true. At least that’s what they say, both in word and action.
In a regional nuclear confrontation, you don’t want to throw the second punch. You want to throw the first, and to make sure no second punch ever follows. That first punch must be simply devastating -- so devastating that any effective second punch becomes impossible. If you don’t make an effective second punch impossible, you have not struck hard enough, and you have not protected your nation. The consequence of that failure are indescribable.
Like Israel, Ahmadinejad has options, too: Either (1) drop the plan to nuke Israel into obliteration, or (2) face that same prospect yourself.
Along with billions of other concerned persons, I do not want that fate for either Israel or Iran.
But if the recent past is any indication of the near future, it looks like no one is going to talk Israel's enemies out of their nuclear weapons, or out of their use against Israel. Therefore, either the Iranian leadership must change or else their weapons must be forcibly taken away. If not, those weapons will be used. The only weapons not used will be those that are destroyed.
It does not please me to speculate about what I take to be this dire and horrific eventuality. I deplore it. But in my view, the future of the Middle East is extremely bleak. Given Iran’s deadly intention and Israel’s desire to survive, the Middle East has a nuclear future.
Who knows if it can be limited to the Middle East?