Potential War of the Week: Israel vs. Iran

Please excuse this rapidly written rant. There’s been tons of talk in the major media outlets about what America should and shouldn’t do when Israel attacks Iran. Some say this will be between April and June 2012.

The Obama administration should make it crystal clear to Israel’s right-wing Likud party that the U.S. will not back it up when Iran retaliates.

As I wrote last year when the media was speculating about when the attack would happen: Neither Israel nor the U.S. should ever pre-emptively strike Iran. Even top Israeli military officials agree. Not even if Iran is on the cusp of getting nukes, not even if Iran gets them.

A nuclear-armed Iran will have some negative repercussions in the Middle East but Iran is never going to use nuclear weapons; neither will the Islamic Republic let a proxy terror group have them.

Case in point: Pakistan has nuclear weapons and is far less stable than Iran. Indeed, Pakistan’s military, judiciary and executive branch are in a major kerfuffle. A good chunk of Pakistan is controlled by various terrorist networks, the Haqqanis, Terik-e Taliban Pakistan, Lashkar-e Taiba, the list goes on, and the Pakistani military wages only a half-hearted campaign against them (and only at America’s behest).

Even though America frequently pisses off the Pakistanis, the military and spy agency still won’t let its terror networks near its nukes because India (and the rest of the world) would retaliate should bombs end up in non-state hands. U.S. drone strikes could fall like rain.

Iran, with a balanced and relatively unified governmental body and military, is not nearly as unstable. And Iran would appear much less hostile and volatile if Israel and the U.S. stopped antagonizing it using terrorist-list groups (Jundallah; the MEK) and severe sanctions. If the Iranian regime had fewer outside enemies to unite its hard-liners, democracy would have more of a chance, as it did under President Khatami in the early 2000s. And eventually Iran might move toward Turkey’s model of a Muslim democracy.

The bottom line is that, in this situation, whoever attacks first loses. If he attacks Iran, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu makes his state and neighborhood a hellish war zone, and the world a much more dangerous and economically unhinged place. When the U.S. defends Israel, America will again achieve the infamy it earn by invading Iraq and expend resources and capital it can’t afford to.

Not to mention that the chances a strike would end the Iranian nuclear program, as oppose to just delay it, are very slim.

Iran has never started a war with another sovereign nation (Saddam Hussein started the Iran-Iraq War). That’s not to say current and former Iranian leaders haven’t sponsored terrorism. And it’s not to categorize “pre-emptive strikes” as never appropriate. But Iranian president Ahmadinejad’s calculated ravings about wiping Israel off the map should only elicit one response: A promise from Israel, the U.S. and their allies that they will finish whatever Iran starts.

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