My Last Word on Iran: Dissenting from Gerechthttp://www.theatlantic.com/
Reuel Marc Gerecht has weighed in, on behalf of an Israeli strike against Iran.
Based on his service in the CIA and other experience in the Middle East, he knows far more about the inner machinations of Iran, Israel, and that neighborhood than I ever will. But I figure that I know at least as much about American politics. And the part of his assessment that deals with U.S. interests and reactions strikes me as completely wrong:
What the Israelis need to do is change this dynamic. A preventive strike offers them the only conceivable alternative for doing so. Any bombing run will, at least temporarily, shock the international system and rock Iran internally. The Israelis will have shown that they are deadly serious about confronting the Iranian nuclear threat, that they are willing to go on a permanent war-footing with the Islamic Republic and its deadliest ally, the Hizbollah, which will probably unleash rocket hell on Israel in turn. Although President Obama may become (privately) furious with the Israelis, any Israeli strike will make the United States, and probably even the reluctant Europeans, more determined to shut down Iran's program. If Khamenei and the Guard Corps respond to an Israeli strike with terrorism, which is likely, then they could well put themselves into a strategic cul-de-sac, especially if they strike out against American targets or do something truly stupid, like trying to shut down the Strait of Hormuz.Emphasis added. Boy do I disagree.
If Israel initiated a strike, by almost any reading the very mildest result would be economic disruption on a major scale. Upheaval in the world oil markets; resulting financial/trade upheaval of all kinds; uncertainty with a capital-U; and that is before we even start thinking about short- and longer-term "kinetic" retaliatory efforts by Iran.
And this is supposed to push America (and Europe, China, etc) closer to Israel?? To increase their solidarity in bearing down on Iran? Think about it: If, according to this scenario, America had decided not to attack on its own, that necessarily means that from the coldest calculation of our own American self-interest, all the assorted damage from an attack still seemed greater than the benefits. Now Israel would be bringing on all the damage that we had already decided was not worthwhile.
Maybe Israel's leaders would still feel they have to do this. Obviously their calculation of their own country's self-interest could differ from ours. (The main point of the Goldberg article, and Gerecht's item too.) But they are dreaming if they think this is going to build more sympathy for them, less support for Iran, and a tighter overall alliance with the United States. Jeff Goldberg's piece is more realistic in saying that it could lead to a fundamental rupture. [Sample after the jump. Based on that, I look forward to hearing his own reaction to Gerecht's proposal.]
The idea of shaking things up, of giving a healthy "shock" to a diseased system and then seeing what happens, was one we heard a lot of before the invasion of Iraq. It struck me as reckless and lacking in tragic imagination in that circumstance, and it does in this one too.