Bush's Dilemma: Iran vs. Israel
- Bush's Dilemma: Iran vs. Israel
by Patrick J. Buchanan
January 25, 2006
In the test of wills between the West and Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
shows no sign of backing down.
The Iranian president has said Israel should be "wiped off the map,"
called the Holocaust a "myth," and said Israelis should be given a
province in Austria, but they should get out of Palestine. Whatever
was done to the Jews, said Ahmadinejad, we didn't do it. Europeans
did. Why should we pay the price?
This weekend, The New York Times provided supporting testimony for
Ahmadinejad, citing secret Cabinet notes of Winston Churchill's in 1943:
"I'm committed to creation of a Jewish National Home in Palestine. Let
us go on with that; and at end of war we shall have plenty of force
with which to compel the Arabs to acquiesce in our designs. Don't
shirk our duties because of difficulties "
This weekend, Ahmadinejad was in Damascus, Syria, winning the backing
of President Assad for Iran's nuclear program, meeting with Hezbollah
and Islamic Jihad, and scoffing at Israeli threats. Iran has also
reasserted its right to enrich uranium for nuclear power.
This has caused much threatening talk in Israel and here. This
weekend, Sens. John McCain and Joe Lieberman were again speaking of
"military options" being "on the table." And Israeli Defense Minister
Shaul Mofaz went further, speaking directly to Iran's president:
"I address you as someone who leads his country with an ideology of
hate, terror, and anti-Semitism. I suggest you look at history and see
what happened to others who tried to wipe out the Jewish people.
Israel is not prepared to accept the nuclear arming of Iran, and it
must prepare to defend itself, with all that implies."
But Ahmadinejad is not backing off. And his provocative rhetoric has
paid off. He has strengthened his position at home and made himself
the toast of the Muslim street. And panic over a possible war sent the
Dow plunging 200 points last Friday, wiping out $200 billion in U.S.
shareholders' equity, a loss almost equal to the cost of the Iraq war.
And with the price of a barrel of oil spiking $10 to near $70, Iran,
which exports 2.5 million barrels daily, has seen revenues rise $25
million a day. Other oil-producing nations, like Hugo Chavez's
Venezuela, also are reaping windfall profits.
The jolts to the Dow and NASDAQ, and Tehran's warnings that sanctions
could be met with an oil embargo that could send prices to $100 a
barrel, seem to have caused second thoughts in the Bush camp about the
wisdom of a confrontation.
In a week, the International Atomic Energy Agency will decide whether
to send Iran to the Security Council. But as there is no hard evidence
Iran is building weapons or is even in noncompliance with the Nuclear
Nonproliferation Treaty, Russia may oppose sanctions and China may
As for the military option, no one knows what U.S. air strikes might
produce. Possibilities include tens of thousands of Iranian volunteers
streaming into Iraq to attack U.S. troops, Iran's inciting of the Shia
south to rise against us, an oil embargo, Silkworm missiles fired at
tankers, the closing of the Straits of Hormuz with mines, and terror
attacks on U.S. allies and installations across the Middle East
driving the price of oil to $200 a barrel.
With 160,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, U.S. strikes, which
could kill hundreds of Iranians and silence the pro-American voices
there, uniting Iran behind Ahmadinejad, would seem an option that
could cost us everything. Can we really afford another war, against a
nation three times as populous and four times as large as Iraq?
Bush and Cheney seem aware of the risks of the "military option." But
if they rule it out, they will see a bad moon rising on the Right. Not
only will the neoconservatives howl, Israelis will see themselves as
the odd man out, if Bush should move to negotiations with Tehran,
which is the only real alternative to confrontation.
If America does not strike, Mofaz is saying, Israel will. Yet, as that
could produce the same results as an American attack, without the same
assurance of success, Bush may have to restrain Israel, if he does not
want a wider war.
In short, if Bush does not confront Iran on the nuclear issue with
sanctions or air strikes, he may find himself confronted by Israelis
and their U.S. auxiliaries. Hearken to Hillary Clinton:
"I don't believe you face threats like Iran and North Korea by
outsourcing it to others and standing on the sidelines. But let's be
clear about the threat we face now: A nuclear Iran is a danger to
Israel, to its neighbors and beyond."
Hillary is saying that if George Bush does not confront Iran, he is
open to the charge of leaving Israel to face a nuclear attack by a
regime that has threatened to wipe Israel off the map. Political
Over to you, Mr. President.
WORLD VIEW NEWS SERVICE
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