Thursday, July 10, 2008
Iran: Are we approaching nut-cuttin' time?
Recent days have seen some very, very sobering news from both Iran and Israel, and a mounting sense of tension between the two countries. The US can't help but be drawn into the escalating rhetoric as well.
This is potentially very bad news. VERY bad.
The Iranians, of course, have been working on a nuclear program at some level for some time. The US and the Euros have been trying to head this off through diplomacy and some relatively mild sabre rattling, to no avail. Israel cannot, and has stated they will not, stand by and let a country who's leader has repeatedly called for its (Israel's) destruction arm itself with nuclear weapons.
The Israelis, last week, held a military exercise which was pretty clearly intended to prove out, for themselves and the world, they could, if necessary, strike Iran from the air. Sure, it's provocative. But what else can they do? The Israelis are starting to get nervous, thinking that the rest of the world isn't showing enough of a sense of urgency about the situation. Can you blame them? There's no telling what happens to US policy regarding this matter in January.
So, in response, the Iranians stage a test of medium range missiles the other day. It's lost on no one, least of all the Israelis, that these missiles can reach Tel Aviv. Whether the test was as successful as the Iranians would like for us to believe is in question, and is also completely besides the point.
The facts, from the Israeli perspective, are this:
- Iran's President has publicly and repeatedly called for Israel's destruction.
- Iran is working on a nuclear program of some sort.
- Iran has missiles which can reach Israel.
- The US military is over-extended.
- The future of US attitude regarding Iran and Israel is not certain.
The Israelis are going to look out for themselves, and they have proven time and again that they will strike first (a lesson well and truly learned in the Six-Day War and reinforced by the Yom Kippur War - don't wait for the other guy to be ready), and to hell with world opinion. When pretty much everyone in your neighborhood wants you dead, and has tried a few times to kill you, you can never be paranoid enough.
Oh boy. Oh dear. This. Is. Tense.
I don't begin to know what the answer is here. What I do know is this needs to be front and center for us all, right now. Stop whining about $4 gas - if Iran and Israel start shooting at each other, you'll look back on $4 gas as the good old days.
We do have some leverage. The Arabs are scared to death of Iran. But they're also anti-Israel and, increasingly, anti-American. And we can't piss off the Arabs because of the aforementioned $4 gas.
It keeps coming back to that, doesn't it? Take oil out of the equation, and this stuff gets a whole lot less complicated.
There's your imperative. It's a longer-term action. What's to be done in the short term?
Buckle your seatbelts. This one has DANGER written all over it.