Right Wing Nut House


‘You don’t want a messianic apocalyptic cult controlling atomic bombs:’ Netanyahu

Filed under: Decision '08, Iran, Middle East, Politics — Rick Moran @ 10:33 am

I can’t recommend this Jeff Goldberg article in The Atlantic highly enough. After several years of interviews with leaders and policy makers from Israel, Iran, America, and other Arab countries, as well as talks with military experts, Goldberg comes to this reluctant conclusion:

I have asked a simple question: what is the percentage chance that Israel will attack the Iranian nuclear program in the near future? Not everyone would answer this question, but a consensus emerged that there is a better than 50 percent chance that Israel will launch a strike by next July. (Of course, it is in the Israeli interest to let it be known that the country is considering military action, if for no other reason than to concentrate the attention of the Obama administration. But I tested the consensus by speaking to multiple sources both in and out of government, and of different political parties. Citing the extraordinary sensitivity of the subject, most spoke only reluctantly, and on condition of anonymity. They were not part of some public-relations campaign.) The reasoning offered by Israeli decision makers was uncomplicated: Iran is, at most, one to three years away from having a breakout nuclear capability (often understood to be the capacity to assemble more than one missile-ready nuclear device within about three months of deciding to do so). The Iranian regime, by its own statements and actions, has made itself Israel’s most zealous foe; and the most crucial component of Israeli national-security doctrine, a tenet that dates back to the 1960s, when Israel developed its own nuclear capability as a response to the Jewish experience during the Holocaust, is that no regional adversary should be allowed to achieve nuclear parity with the reborn and still-besieged Jewish state.

Goldberg brilliantly lays out most of the dire consequences of such a strike:

When the Israelis begin to bomb the uranium-enrichment facility at Natanz, the formerly secret enrichment site at Qom, the nuclear-research center at Esfahan, and possibly even the Bushehr reactor, along with the other main sites of the Iranian nuclear program, a short while after they depart en masse from their bases across Israel-regardless of whether they succeed in destroying Iran’s centrifuges and warhead and missile plants, or whether they fail miserably to even make a dent in Iran’s nuclear program-they stand a good chance of changing the Middle East forever; of sparking lethal reprisals, and even a full-blown regional war that could lead to the deaths of thousands of Israelis and Iranians, and possibly Arabs and Americans as well; of creating a crisis for Barack Obama that will dwarf Afghanistan in significance and complexity; of rupturing relations between Jerusalem and Washington, which is Israel’s only meaningful ally; of inadvertently solidifying the somewhat tenuous rule of the mullahs in Tehran; of causing the price of oil to spike to cataclysmic highs, launching the world economy into a period of turbulence not experienced since the autumn of 2008, or possibly since the oil shock of 1973; of placing communities across the Jewish diaspora in mortal danger, by making them targets of Iranian-sponsored terror attacks, as they have been in the past, in a limited though already lethal way; and of accelerating Israel’s conversion from a once-admired refuge for a persecuted people into a leper among nations.

Goldberg notes that with success, the Israelis will buy time (probably putting the Iranian program back 3-5 years), earn the secret thanks of most of the moderate Arab regimes in the Middle East, and will have stopped potential proliferation to terrorist groups in its tracks.

Is that worth initiating a strike that could lead to World War III?

What will the Russians do if the Israeli’s hit Bushehr? It is likely they will kill Russian technicians in such a strike since they are building the facility under contract with Tehran. Will Vladmir Putin take the death of Russian scientists and technicians lying down? What if he retaliates against Israel? What would be the American response to that?

August, 1914?

Unleashing Hezb’allah against the western world, stirring up trouble in Iraq by ordering the Shia militias into the streets, not to mention a missile campaign against Israel that could kill thousands (at which point Israel may decide that to save its people, it must expand its own bombing campaign, escalating the conflict to the next level) - this alone could ratchet up tensions causing the world to start choosing up sides.

And no America with the will or the self-confidence to step in and assist the world in standing down.

Obama’s foreign policy is not anti-American, unpatriotic, or designed to favor Muslims. It’s just weak. The president has made the conscious decision that the US is too powerful and needs to defer to supra-national organizations like the UN, or regional line ups like NATO or the Arab League when conflict is threatened. “First among equals” is not rhetoric to Obama. He means it. He has been thoroughly indoctrinated with the idea that most of the world’s troubles have been caused by a too-powerful United States and hence, only deliberately eschewing the promotion of American interests can redress this sin.

This will be the first world crisis since the end of World War II where American power and prestige will not be used to intervene in order to prevent catastrophe. Obama is betting the farm that his worldview will be more conducive to defusing a crisis than the more realpolitik and pragmatic point of view that has dominated American foreign policy for 65 years.

We are shortly going to find out whether good intentions really matter in international affairs.

This blog post originally appeared on The American Thinker.

I’ve received  a few emails from some of my more liberal friends informing me that I misunderstand Obama’s world view and that the president’s foreign policy is as good for US interests as any other presidents

I would say that Steve Hynd captures the president’s foreign policy views accurately:

Way back in 2005, a young Adam Weinstein wrote a paper on Just War Theory that’s well worth a read, but from which two key phrases jump out at me - “the bleak fact that justice is what states make of it.” and “expanding the ‘we’”. I’d characterise those two phrases as encapsulating what I call the “Crooked Cop” problem: America needs to become the world’s “good” cop instead of a “bad” (i.e. short-termist, self-interested) cop.

Only the bad guys object to an honest, impartial and hard-working policeman for whom “protect and serve” is more than just a slogan. A good cop is an asset to his community and puts everyone else’s interests before his own, which ends up serving his own interests - respect, affection, and a mostly peaceable community to live in. But no-one likes a cop who has his own interests at heart first and foremost - who’s usually looking for a “take”, is never there when you need him and applies the law only when it suits him while looking the other way when his pals commit crimes. A bad cop should get out of the law enforcement business because he only makes his neighborhood worse.

What pisses me off about the hawks of both left and right is that their policy prescriptions too often begin as their own short-termist conception of American national interest informed by hearty helpings of militarism and American exceptionalism which are then overlain with a thin veneer of pablum about humanitarian considerations, freedom, democracy and “we’re the world’s policeman” BS to sugar-coat their origins with something more palatable to US voters. No-one in the rest of the world buys it for a second.

My own longer term conception of US national interest is that it would, indeed, be better off as a truly impartial, self-sacrificing but respected cop rather than one pretending to do the job while feathering its own nest. Acting as an honest broker pays much bigger dividends than couching self-interest in hyperbole about freedom and democracy. Like a huge number of non-Americans, I’ve no objection to America being the world’s policeman if America will be an honest cop, a “protect and serve” cop. No-one else is big enough for the job at present (although in future the US and others should look to reform the UN for the job). But better no cop at all than a cop on the take. To be a good cop, America must realize that its national interest lies exactly in not aggressively pursuing its national interest.

“America must realize that its national interest lies exactly in not aggressively pursuing its national interest….” perfectly captures the confusion, the stupidity, the utter nonsensical treacle that passes for deep thought about foreign affairs on the left.  What makes Obama extraordinarily dangerous is that he actually believes this looniness and is trying it out on the international stage. What has been the response from Iran, Russia, Venezuela, Syria, and other problem states? Barely concealed laughter (in the case of Iran and Syria, not even concealed).

I prefer hard headedness - on both sides. Real American interest lies in promoting democracy in a non-lethal manner - efforts that will, as it did in Eastern Europe - bear fruit over decades. Those who believe they can change the world in 4 or 8 years should be prevented from having anything to do with foreign policy.

In the meantime, yes we do have short term interests and we serve those at the expense of the interest of Iran, Russia, Syria, and other bad actors because not doing so harms the US. It is laughable, extraordinarily naive to pretend that long term interests of the US are served by eschewing our own interests and placing other nation’s interests ahead of ours. No one would be stupid enough to run a campaign based on that notion because, quite rightly, the American people don’t want to vote for someone who will subsume American interests to the interests of other nations. That’s utter nonsense. It depends on the supposed good will of other nations to recognize the US sacrifice and reward us with cooperation. It also presupposes a measure of rationality from our enemies that many of them have yet to demonstrate.

Mr. Hynd may not like “strategic ambiguity” and other repugnant gambits and he is right that in this case, it  won’t work. In order for strategic ambiguity to be effective - as it was when Clinton and Bush were president - there must be the tiniest sliver of doubt among our adversaries that we may end up attacking after all. When Obama says “all options are on the table” with regards to Iran, no one believes him in the slightest. In order to bomb Iran, Obama would have to abandon his entire world view. It won’t happen, everyone is aware of it, and Iran is acting accordingly.

The bullies, the psychopaths, and the despots sleep better at night with Obama as president as they never have previously. That’s the reality we live in - the result of Obama putting his worldview into practice. I’ve written previously that the hard left has been waiting 40 years to prove to the rest of us that their way in foreign policy is safer, and better for America. Now that they have someone in the White House putting their ideas into practice, let us hope that they were right and that such a Pollyannish outlook toward our potential enemies does not blow up the world in their faces.


  1. [...] Rick Moran: Goldberg notes that with success, the Israelis will buy time (probably putting the Iranian program back 3-5 years), earn the secret thanks of most of the moderate Arab regimes in the Middle East, and will have stopped potential proliferation to terrorist groups in its tracks. [...]

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  2. [...] as Rick Moran points out, such an attack could precipitate a crisis at precisely the time that there isn’t anyone in the world with the will to step in and put a … Unleashing Hezb’allah against the western world, stirring up trouble in Iraq by ordering the Shia [...]

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  3. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Doug Mataconis, Phineas Fahrquar and Roger, michael allison. michael allison said: RT @irishspy: "Obama's foreign policy is not anti-American, unpatriotic, or designed to favor Muslims. It's just weak." http://is.gd/eeUc8 #tcot [...]

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