Wednesday, April 16, 2008

An Israeli Pre-Emptive Strike on Iranian Nuclear Sites Would be an Act of Folly, Gidon D. Remba

P.O. Box 96503 #89647
Washington, D.C. 20090-6503

April 13, 2008

Letters to the Editor
The New York Times
620 Eighth Avenue
New York, NY 10018

To the Editor:

Zev Chafets’ “Israel Can Stand Up for Itself” (April 13) suffers from three faulty assumptions which vitiate its argument. First, Mr. Chafets claims that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s announcement of the installation of 6,000 new centrifuges makes obvious “the failure of diplomacy.” Since President Bush has in fact not tried direct diplomacy with Iran at all, or offered the kinds of inducements which would give the U.S. the best prospects for insuring that Iranian nuclear enrichment would not lead to the development of nuclear weapons, diplomacy cannot be said to have failed.

Second, Mr. Chafets assumes that Israel is free to make an autonomous decision independent of the U.S. on whether to launch its own preemptive strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities. It would be “a noble thing,” he remarks, if the U.S. were to back Israel’s "efforts to stop an Iranian bomb" with military force—as if the U.S. would have a choice. In fact, Iran would regard an Israeli attack on its nuclear sites as having tacit, if not overt, American approval, and would hold the U.S. responsible along with Israel. The U.S. cannot therefore permit Israel to make a unilateral decision about whether to entangle it in a second protracted, unwinnable and vastly more difficult Mideast war, even were so large a share of U.S. ground forces not already embroiled in neighboring Iraq.

Third, Mr. Chafets believes that Israel has the capacity “to act on its own to degrade and retard the Iranian nuclear program as it did in Iraq (and, more recently, Syria).” In fact, it is unlikely that either Israel or the U.S. know where all Iranian nuclear sites are located. Many American Iran experts say that such a strike would prompt Iranians to rally around the most hard-line mullahs bent on accelerating the acquisition of nuclear weapons and exacting revenge on Israel. A preemptive Israeli or American assault on Iran will retard, not advance, a change in regime towards more pragmatic Iranian leaders, leaving a nuclear-armed Shiite power under the control of its most immoderate clerical rulers.


Gidon D. Remba

The writer, who served as Editor and Foreign Press Translator in Israel’s Government Press Office under Menachem Begin and Zev Chafets during the Egyptian-Israeli peace negotiations, is Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of the new Jews for Obama e-Newsletter.

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