Netanyahu’s Red Line

Netanyahu wants a red line on nuclear proliferation in the Middle East:

Where exactly should we draw it?

As Justin Raimondo notes:

Here is a nation which refuses to even admit it acquired nukes long ago, and which disdains the Nonproliferation Treaty, making the case for war against a neighbor that has indeed signed the NPT and is abiding by its requirements.

That treaty gives Tehran the right to develop nuclear power. Furthermore, there is zero evidence Iran is embarked on a nuclear weapons program: our own intelligence community tells us they gave that up in 2003 and show no signs of resuming it. Their own religious and political leaders have denounced the possession of nuclear weapons as sinful: the Israelis, on the other hand, haven’t bothered reassuring us they would never use the nuke they won’t admit they have.

In a rational world, Israel would be in the dock, answering for its unwillingness to come out of the nuclear closet and admit what the whole world knows by now.

The West has sent out a message that the only way for unpopular regimes to avoid invasion is to obtain nuclear weapons. North Korea sought and obtained nuclear weapons and their vicious and economically-failed regime has stayed in power. Qaddafi gave up his nuclear ambitions, and was soon deposed by British, French and American airpower. If Iran is seeking a nuclear weapon — and the CIA and Mossad, as well as the IAEA agree they that they are not currently doing so — perhaps the fact that nuclear-armed Israel and the nuclear-armed United States keep threatening non-nuclear Iran with attack has something to do with it?

And even assuming that they are going for a nuclear weapon, how close is Iran to a nuclear weapon? According to former IAEA consultant Clinton Bastin, possibly as much as ten to fifteen years away:

Dear Prime Minister Netanyahu:

Iran may be in your red zone, but can not score.

Sure, Iran could divert a few tons of 3.5% or a ton of 20% enriched uranium hexaflouride gas for enrichment to 90+%. But what then?

No one has ever made a nuclear weapon from gas. It must be converted to metal and fabricated into components which are then assembled with high explosives.

Iran lacks experience with and facilities for these processes which are very dangerous because of potential for a criticality accident or nuclear explosion. Iran would not jeopardize its important, fully safeguarded nuclear programs by an attempt to have a deliverable, one kiloton yield nuclear weapon ten to fifteen years later.

IMPORTANT NOTE: North Korea was able to make and test a nuclear explosive soon after withdrawing from safeguards because plutonium for reactor recycle was in a form usable for a weapon.

So let’s be clear about who is threatening who:

How would Americans feel if Iran had stationed troops and aircraft on the Mexican and Canadian borders and conducted military excursions into American territory, including funding and training armed dissidents to overthrow the American government (as happened to Iran in 1953 when America overthrew a democratically-elected Iranian government and imposed a dictatorship there)? How would Americans feel if Iran, Russia and China were blowing up American scientists and using computer viruses to attack American infrastructure? How would Americans feel if Iran, Russia and China imposed sanctions on America that led to hyperinflation of the dollar?  Under those circumstances, would America not seek the means to defend itself?

Iran is not blameless, and continues to provoke Israel through its support for Hamas and Hezbollah and through eliminationist rhetoric. But given the level of provocation from the Israeli and American side, it is astonishing that Iran remains free of nuclear weapons. Yet it is a fact that Iran is not armed with nuclear weapons, and it remains a fact that Iran has not attacked nor occupied any foreign lands since World War 2. Iran is not an expansionistic country.

As neocon provocateur Patrick Clawson essentially admitted in advocating for a false flag attack to get America to war, Iran is not likely to attack either the United States or Israel. So when it comes to drawing red lines, we in the West would do well to draw a red line around our behaviour — because right now, we in the West are the ones who are stirring up trouble by threatening to strike first.

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48 thoughts on “Netanyahu’s Red Line

  1. Pingback: Netanyahu’s Red Line « Hawks5999

  2. Israel has more right to have nuclear weapons than France or the UK. Israel is the only country that the physical existence of its citizenry is threatened. The USSR never desired to physically destroy France or the UK or the US. They “just” wanted to turn them into communists. Iran (as well as Syria when it was still a real state, the ruling junta in Egypt and many if not most Muslims – although that’s hard to tell) want to physically kill all the Jews. They say as much, they preach it and they teach their kids in schools that Jews are sub-human monstrosities (also in the West Bank by the way, in schools funded by European and Americans). Aziz, by not being outraged by this, is just joining the majority of humankind inflicted by the same Jew-hatred psychopathy (although as most sophisticated Jew-haters he will immediately dismiss this as confusing legitimate criticism with bigotry). Nothing special or new about that or about him.

    • Israel has more right to have nuclear weapons than France or the UK. Israel is the only country that the physical existence of its citizenry is threatened.

      Absurd statement. At no point did I even raise Israel’s right to nuclear weaponry. Anyone with nuclear weaponry aimed at them is threatened with nuclear annihilation. Currently, which countries have nuclear missiles aimed at Israel? None, as far as I know. Possibly Russia or China could aim one at Israel, but their main preoccupation is with the United States and NATO.

      Israel has nuclear weapons. That is a fact. Israel is not party to the non-Proliferation treaties, yet is asking the international community for assistance with non-proliferation. That is also a fact, which makes Israel’s requests seem hypocritical.

      The fact that Israel has nuclear submarines, advanced missile defence technologies, and the most committed security services in the world means that it is extremely unlikely anyone will be annihilating Israel, anyway.

      Iran (as well as Syria when it was still a real state, the ruling junta in Egypt and many if not most Muslims – although that’s hard to tell) want to physically kill all the Jews.

      Massive over-exaggeration. Some news for you — I am Jewish (well, 1/4 Jewish, but I look Jewish, sound Jewish and am often asked if I am Jewish) and I monitor antisemitism closely. Where do I see the most antisemitism? Where would I be most uncomfortable? Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union and around the Christian Right in the United States that wishes to return all Jews to Israel to bring on the Second Coming. The Arab world has growing antisemitism mainly as a residual effect of 1948/67/73, but hardcore antisemitism and eliminationism is mostly confined to religious extremes. But an attack on Iran will probably deepen this antisemitism.

      Aziz, by not being outraged by this, is just joining the majority of humankind inflicted by the same Jew-hatred psychopathy (although as most sophisticated Jew-haters he will immediately dismiss this as confusing legitimate criticism with bigotry). Nothing special or new about that or about him.

      Outrageous. Because I have mixed feelings about Israel and Israeli policy I am now an antisemite? Are all Jews now required by law to love Israel? No. Do I think antisemitism is a real force? Yes. Do I think Israel and Jews are endangered by it? Yes, but in my understanding it has been and will remain a predominantly European phenomenon.

      I have never had a problem with the Jews living in Israel (although I choose not to for many reasons) and with the Jews being able to defend themselves. After the events of the last century, that is a very wise move. I am not any kind of nationalist, but it is true that the Jewish people have every right to self-defence.

      But Israel is going far beyond defence. Israel is getting into attacking other countries and attacking other peoples out of fear. These fears are well-placed still 70 years after the holocaust, but in overstepping the mark and going from defence to attack, this is in my view making the situation worse.

      The new Muslim antisemitism is very much a case of blowback for Western and Israeli foreign policy. Blowback from things like Benzion Netanyahu’s view that “the tendency to conflict is in the essence of the Arab. He is an enemy by essence. His personality won’t allow any compromise or agreement. It doesn’t matter what kind of resistance he will meet, what price he will pay. The Arab citizen’s goal is to destroy us. They won’t be able to face war with us, which will include withholding food from Arab cities, preventing education, terminating electrical power and so on. They won’t be able to exist, and they will run away from here.” This view is a disaster for Israel, a disaster for the Jewish people, and a disaster for the world. It is occluding any possibility for peace.

      Israeli policies inspired by this attitude have led to Israel demolishing Arab houses, expanding occupation of the West Bank, demolishing olive groves, torturing Arabs, using things like depleted uranium and white phosphorus in Gaza.

      These unpopular and belligerent actions are making the world a more dangerous place for Jews today. So is the apparent hypocrisy of demanding the world draw a red line for Iran’s nuclear ambitions (even when Iran is signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaties) while harbouring hundreds of nuclear weapons. So would be attacking Iran.

      The short and long solution to this is that Israel concentrate her military on self-defensive capacities, and concentrate her diplomatic forces on creating a stronger trade network to make the middle eastern peace too big to fail. Consolidate Israel behind the present facts on the ground — don’t expand anymore into new territories. Share technology and engage in commerce with the Arabs and the Persians — solar technology, medical technology, computing technology. Israel is the strong horse in the middle east today, and can easily afford to be the one to reach out with an olive branch. Peace, commerce, liberty. That is the remedy, not this Netanyahu nonsense of red lines and war. This line of aggressive and belligerent policy will be a disaster for Israel and the Jews.

      By the way, I think you should apologise for calling me a Jew hater. I have been writing about this issue out of love for the Jewish people and the Middle East, and a desire to see peace and prosperity, not a dangerous new series of wars.

      Also, I think the idea that the majority of humanity is antisemitic is dangerous and paranoid — dangerous because belief in it is leading to Israeli policies that are isolating and endangering Israel and Jews in the long run. The majority of Europeans and Americans in the middle of last century maybe. But today, the Chinese and Japanese and Indians and Africans and South Americans who make up a majority of the world? Anti-semitism is a growing problem in the Muslim world and a residual problem in Europe, North America and the former Soviet Union. But I would guess that less than 10% of people around the world are antisemitic.

    • Israel has a right to exist. Judaism has a right to exist. The Muslim world must be fair. It has religious sites in other parts of the world. They have to give Israel the right to exist.

      The Saudis could relocate the Palestinians all over the world. I am sure they will relish it.

      However in fairness, the Jews and Israelis must allow the Muslims who want to stay to live in Israel as a secular religion. In Australia, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, all pray and live together.

      Zealots on both sides must be reigned in.

      • Actually I was thinking that if anyone owes Palestinians land for a new country then surely it is Germany and Poland?

        In seriousness, claiming that Palestinians must leave seems pretty incoherent really. These people have a deep and strong emotional and cultural attachment with the place. You can’t just get rid of that with relocation. In creating Israel, there is now a new diaspora with a similar kind of attachment to the land.

        (But if Poland and Germany and the former Nazi countries want to offer some land to build a new Palestine then I think the Palestinians should try it).

        • One of my main criticisms of the Arab countries surrounding Israel is their lack of hospitality toward all of the Palestinian refugees who came to their counrties after the numerous Arab vs. Israel wars. They (i.e. Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt) claim that the Palestinians are their brothers, and yet they don’t help them out at all. Instead of helping their Palestinian Arab brothers, they use them as an excuse to harm Israel. I think there’s one thing we can all agree upon – the Palestinian people are being used by numerous leaders and organizations (be it Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran) to fulfill whatever special interest that group wants. I think those terrorist organizations treating the their fellow Palestinian brothers like shit instead of helping them is the biggest hindrance toward peace. Whether its leaders keeping their people in poverty, or setting up rocket launching sites in children’s schools and hospitals (in Gaza), it’s just atrocious. The flotilla incident from several years back is another example of this. Instead of allowing those boats (that claimed to have only first-aid materials and food) to be stopped and inspected within Israel, so that Israel could make sure that there weren’t any weapons going into Gaza, the organizations behind the whole ordeal insisted upon not allowing any inspections. So instead of the Palestinians within Gaza getting some much-needed food and first-aid, they got SHIT! There’s no press about it whatsoever. The world media makes it seem like the biggest oppressors of the Palestinian people are the Israelis, but what about their loving Arab brothers that could help them but instead choose to use them for other purposes?

        • One of my main criticisms of the Arab countries surrounding Israel is their lack of hospitality toward all of the Palestinian refugees who came to their counrties after the numerous Arab vs. Israel wars. They (i.e. Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt) claim that the Palestinians are their brothers, and yet they don’t help them out at all. Instead of helping their Palestinian Arab brothers, they use them as an excuse to harm Israel.

          This times a thousand! Jordan and Lebanon have treated the Arabs shamefully. I think Israel has treated Israeli Arabs much better than Arab nations have treated refugees.

        • I did not say force, I said allow free movement to a new place. Nationalists can stay but live with renewed responsibilities to live peacefully side by side in a secular society.

          All wars and arguments are caused by blinkered vision and a mental deficiency bordering on insanity. Zealotry is a disease of the mind. This sickness has to be controlled, just like we isolate patients with a virus.

  3. Pingback: Netanyahu’s Red Line « Silver For The People – The Blog

  4. By the way, Gilad — and this is critical — I would never accuse you or Netanyahu of antisemitism, even though I believe that attacking Iran is by far the most dangerous thing Israel has ever done and brings serious risk of a global war.

    I think that such an attack would be an honest mistake, brought on by well-founded fears borne out of the history of the last century. If I am wrong in my belief that belligerence is a mistake, and Israel chooses procrastination and Iran pulls off a devastating hit on Israel, or if Israel pulls off a successful strike with no bad consequences, then I am deeply sorry for my bad advice. On the other hand, if I am right and Israel strikes Iran and there is a global war and huge blowback for Israel, or if Israel procrastinates with no bad effects then you should be deeply sorry for your bad advice. There is no need to throw around baseless accusations of antisemitism.

  5. If Mr. Netanyahu wants a red line, then let him draw his own. It has never been established that Iran is, in fact, building a nuclear weapon. After Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan it should be obvious that wars produce more problems than they solve.
    A single nuclear device exploded over Israel will guarantee the obliteration of Iran as well.

  6. Aziz, I think you give Gilad way too much attention, I read nothing wrong in your article… but plenty of logics. There’ll be always someone as Gilad to play this destructive game. I’m jewish. Let’s be honest, this game is about manipulating powerful people in Israel’s interest. These old-school minded jews cause us more problems than anything else, playing with propaganda’s fires.

    /ignore Gilad

    • I really, really, really dislike being called antisemitic. I feel like the absolute most dangerous thing for the Jewish people is attacking Iran. Hey, I could be wrong — but so could Netanyahu, etc. In my small way I am trying to help and I get it thrown back in my face as “Jew hate”. Ugh.

  7. And also, I do not condone Gilad’s hateful comments toward you, I thought his comments were completely unfair and out of line (one could say he crossed a red line).

  8. Aziz,

    You claim that Israel should focus on self-defense. I agree. When a head of state consistently and publicly calls for the destruction of Israel, why should Israel not take that seriously? It is only in self-defense that Israel asks that the world take this threat seriously. It would be the height of irresponsibility of Netanyahu simply ignored these threats.

    Israel has never threatened the Persian people with annihilation. The only threats they have made relate to the nuclear program. What would the benefit be to Israel to make up lies about the nuclear threat? It would be an obviously costly war in lives, money, as well as political capital. There is no upside to war with Iran. It would set the entire region back 30 years.

    However, the downside risks of not taking Iran’s threats seriously outweigh the risks of going to war. You say there is no way Iran could obliterate Israel, given its advanced military. If you’ve ever visited, you would know that that is hogwash. All it would take is one or two well placed nuclear explosions and Israel would cease to exist. Even with Israel’s nuclear deterrent, the irrationality of the Iranian leadership (whether based on mis-placed religious belief or otherwise) leads one to conclude that they might be willing to risk the deaths of millions of their own people to rid the region of its “cancer”.

    As I said, I agree that war with Iran has no upside, which is why the clandestine war to disrupt and delay the Iranian program makes the most sense at the current time. However, there may come a time where war is the best of terrible options for Israel.

    • You say there is no way Iran could obliterate Israel, given its advanced military. If you’ve ever visited, you would know that that is hogwash. All it would take is one or two well placed nuclear explosions and Israel would cease to exist. Even with Israel’s nuclear deterrent, the irrationality of the Iranian leadership (whether based on mis-placed religious belief or otherwise) leads one to conclude that they might be willing to risk the deaths of millions of their own people to rid the region of its “cancer”.

      I don’t think it’s impossible. I just think it’s extremely unlikely. You know, I am not criticising Israel having nuclear weapons. As I say, every nation is entitled to peaceful self-defence. Iran may be 50 or 100 times bigger than Israel, but in a conflict between Israel and Iran there is only one place that will be getting wiped off the map — and that is Iran. Iron dome can now intercept rockets from Hamas and Hizbollah quite reliably. Anything from Iran would be exploded over Iraq or Jordan. The only hope Iran would have is of smuggling materials in, and that is already a risk with Pakistan and other loose nuclear materials floating around the former USSR. Defensive measures such as Iron Dome and Mossad / Shin Bet interceptions seem a better bet for defense than a risky manoeuvre in attacking Iran. And as Meir Dagan says anything less than regime change in Iran will be ineffective.

      As I said, I agree that war with Iran has no upside, which is why the clandestine war to disrupt and delay the Iranian program makes the most sense at the current time. However, there may come a time where war is the best of terrible options for Israel.

      Being a libertarian, I prefer the idea of olive branches to covert war, but I prefer covert war to overt war. I think that the time for Israeli offense against Iran would be if there is very strong evidence not just of enrichment but of bomb-building and missile tests. But even at that stage there are many diplomatic options. If Israel really wants to stop Iran getting nuclear weapons they need to talk to Iran’s trade partners in Eurasia. Heck maybe Israel could offer to provide certain technologies in exchange for oversight.

      • Neither you nor I will ever be in a position to see all the evidence. I trust Israel to only go into overt war, if and when they have the evidence. My trust isn’t blind, but based on the fact that there is no upside for Israel, nor upside for the politicians who would make the decision to go to war. Israelis are sick of war, and any leader which leads them into unnecessary war will lose his/her job.

        It is ludicrous to suggest that Israel could/would wipe Iran off the map. Israel has no reason to target anything but Iran’s nuclear program and possibly their oil assets to cripple their ability to fund their nuclear program. If Israel could so easily win a war with Iran, we wouldn’t even be debating this, the war would have happened already.

        I love your idea about creating an intertwined economic system in the middle east that would make it too costly for anyone to go to war. Israel has tried this for decades. Even with countries they are supposedly at peace with, like Egypt, where the economic policies have been entirely one way. How many egyptian tourists visit Israel every year? Close to zero, while tens of thousands of Israelis go to Egypt. Trade in general is entirely one way with Egypt, except for natural gas which Israel imports (and only because it was written into the peace agreement). Even that the Egyptians want to take away purely out of hatred, now that an Islamic government has been elected. The muslim states have been at fault for discouraging commerce with Israel. Israel has even done business with Qatar, who technically doesn’t recognize Israel as a state, in an attempt to foster this inter-dependance.

        So as good as your ideas are, they’ve been tried by Israel, and have failed due the lack of will on the other side. Idealism is great, but we live in the real world. When there is even an inkling of reciprocity on the economic front, you will see how much Israel is willing to share technologically.

        • It is ludicrous to suggest that Israel could/would wipe Iran off the map. Israel has no reason to target anything but Iran’s nuclear program and possibly their oil assets to cripple their ability to fund their nuclear program. If Israel could so easily win a war with Iran, we wouldn’t even be debating this, the war would have happened already.

          Moshe Dayan: “Israel must be like a mad dog, too dangerous to bother. We have the capability to take the world down with us. And I can assure you that that will happen before Israel goes under.”

          Israel can do it. The barrier is that Israel will only use the nuclear option out of absolute necessity. A rudimentary calculation suggests that 200 one-megaton bombs (that is the generally accepted estimate) would be far more than enough to send Iran back to the Stone Age if Iran were to try a nuclear attack (and even if there are only say 8 or 16 commissioned bombs on the submarines it would be more than enough for major, major, major damage).

        • Now you’re really reaching. Quoting a dead Israeli general who lived in a different era. I’m sure we can come up with 30+ quotes of dead Muslim dictators that argue in favor of war, not to mention the live ones.

          In any case, if only we were dealing with rational human beings, I would agree that nuclear deterrent should be enough. But time and again, Islamic extremists have proven to be irrational (as have other extremists). Suicide bombings are irrational, yet it happens all the time, and is encouraged by states like Iran. So if individual suicide is encouraged, why not risk state suicide – especially if there is a chance of destroying Israel before it has a chance to launch its nukes. It is not such a stretch to believe that religious fervor can lead to stupid irrational decisions. It has happened repeatedly throughout history.

        • You know, I’d compare Ahmadinejad very much to Colonel Qadaffi. They both like to get up and make wild and outlandish claims with almost no substance behind them. But beyond that Iran hasn’t invaded a single country since World War 2. That alone should tell you that this is not an aggressive or expansionistic country.This is a country of 70m people with a very professional military and an obsession with its long-gone glories. Maybe there are some suicidal fanatics in the government, but even in Pakistan which is a seemingly more fanatical and unstable country cooler heads have prevailed again and again. This is of what I expected against the background of something like the Samson Option. People — even radical Muslims — take the prospect of annihilation pretty seriously. Still, I don’t rule out that an individual may make a rash decision at some point if Iran goes nuclear with the present regime. It is a risk for us all. That’s why all countries and particularly Israel need a strong defensive capability including missile defence, as well as the options I outlined involving economic peace (a phrase Netanyahu has used, too).

          My point — and I could be wrong — is that attacking to depose the regime now or anytime in the near future risks opening a whole new batch of problems up to and including a new global war. This is something for everyone to consider — that perhaps the medicine of removing the present regime may turn out to be a worse poison than the present reality. It’s a huge risk for potentially a very small reward.

          Israel is a sovereign country whose government will make their own decision on this matter. I don’t know what the right decision is, but I strongly suspect that in this case attacking Iran is the worst option for both Iran and Israel. I hope Israel’s government makes the right decision, for all our sakes’.

        • Irrational people are my biggest fear in this world. Humans are dangerous enough as it is, without one being crazy.

  9. In that it’s impossible to understand the simplest of things, … .

    One thing you can observe, though, is the incredible disconnect between individual and institutional reality. Surrounded by U.S. firepower, it seem unlikely that Iran will do much of anything that might provoke retaliation.

    As this continues the great battle of the previous millennium, betting the farm, I would take economic forces [-13] winning-out over the those of religion, but this one might just go overtime.

  10. Pingback: Netanyahu’s Red Line « Silver For The People – The Blog

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  12. it boils down to a clash of ideas; between “humanitarian law” and human rights, in which the former quite literally overlooks the later whilst a human right is simultaneously said by educated elites to exist in every person on Earth, namely; a private property exists in each person much like John Locke said.

  13. Does anyone know what Ahmadinajad really has said in terms of destroying Israel? I seem to recall that there were some questions as to just what a correct translation of his words would be. It would be interesting to know. I doubt many here would be surprised to find that his words were not translated exactly, but I don’t know.

    Also I have heard that the “death to…!” expression is thrown around rather casually in Persian, as in traffic jams provoking people to say “death to traffic!” and so on. I’ve never been there, and don’t know, but again, who would be surprised to learn that some of the language is being inflated here to more than it may actually be.

    • I guess I should have read your second to last post before commenting. Ahmadinejad does indeed seem to be giving the U.S. / Israel chickenhawks all the flaming rhetoric they could desire. It would still be interesting to know to what extent, if any, the western media are turning up the volume even more by their choice of translations. Looks like they don’t have to, though.

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