The threat of Iran having nuclear weapons is causing many Arab countries (especially rich Arab countries like Saudi Arabia and the Emirates) to look to Israel for protection. With the USA now looking weaker and entering into an agreement with Iran that both Israel and these Arab countries think will eventually lead to Iran having weapons of mass destruction, there is only one country that could potentially stop this and that country is Israel. I have to say that it is a bit ironic that at the same time, Israel is the only nuclear country in the Middle East.
These Arab countries could eventually get their own nuclear capabilities but that will take a lot of time. So while they really hate Israel, they certainly respect Israel. The weaker the US is perceived, the stronger Israel will become. And of course, the Palestinians are casualties of this since Iran’s belligerent behavior has moved the focus from their plight to the threat of a nuclear Iran.
And what of the Iranian Threat?
I so hope that the agreement between the USA and key European allies results in both stopping the Iranian development of nuclear weapons and lifts the crippling sanctions that punish the people of Iran but not their leaders. However, I have lived too long to be so naive. I might add that I have also negotiated many deals and can recognize a deal maker when I see one – which I don’t see in the White House So what to do?
When the Russians (and later the Chinese) got the Bomb, the only choice the USA had then was to become so weaponized that it was clear that a nuclear attack by the USSR would in turn result in their total destruction. Of course, the Soviet Union was equally concerned about an attach by the USA so they had to arm themselves to the teeth as well. Both countries ended up with more than 10,000 war heads, enough to literally blow the world up. There has been a substantial reduction since, but why so many weapons are still kept is pretty hard to understand.
Would containment work with Iran? Clearly, if Iran attacked Israel, Israel would retaliate in some way, although Israel (and Palestine) would probably no longer exist in their current form. The world would witness the Holocaust of the 21st century. Most Israeli’s live in a rather small area.
The total size of that country is 8,000 square miles, but 60% of that is the Negev (desert) which is largely unoccupied. The San Francisco Bay Area is about 7,000 square miles which is probably about twice the size of the main inhabited part of Israel. Iran is about 636,000 square miles which is more than 100 times larger than the inhabited parts of Israel. Iran is twice as large as California. So while Iran could wipe out Israel, Israel could not wipe out Iran although I would not want to be living in Teheran which itself has a population larger than the state of Israel. So it does not seem much like the even match that existed between the USA and the USSR. Once Iran has nuclear weapons and a delivery system, Israel would find it difficult to take the first action, and could only take the second action to punish the Iranians for destroying their country, Of course the fall out from the bombing of Israel would effect many of its neighbors, but they are just Sunni Muslim states, and Iran does not like them very much anyway.
Israel is certainly considering a first strike to hit the reactors. They can probably pull this off for a while but it would turn world opinion, which is already very negative about Israel, even more against that state.
What would the USA do if Iran used Nuclear weapons on Israel?
I can’t see the USA doing what it did in World War II and bombing civilian targets. So I would think they would use conventional weapons against military targets. It would weaken Iran for sure but Iran would still be left with additional weapons and perhaps the ability to pass them to bad actors like Hezbollah that would somehow use them agains American targets.
What if Iran gets way with getting Nuclear Weapons?
Obama fears that this will create a broken damn and many more countries will seek to get nuclear weapons. I think he is right. And with more weapons in more countries, the chances that they will be used will increase with devastating results.
So what should the USA do?
I think the USA should be much more aggressive with sanctions. This is probably the only way to keep the Iranians from getting the weapons and it is far from clear this will work. I don’t believe that the Iranians will stop working on the development of Nuclear Weapons just because they tell John Kerry they will. But on the other hand, I might be inclined to take the chance with this first step. I might add one more requirement: Iran has to take over Afghanistan.
Israel Rises to the Occasion
In the meantime, Israel should take advantage of this situation to build stronger relationships with key Arab countries. Sometimes, I wonder if this has all been worked out in advance with the USA.