The Multilateral Peace Path to War
Last week the Wall Street Journal published an extraordinary editorial titled "How Israel was Disarmed." It decried a UN resolution calling for a nuclear free zone in the Middle East. The key provision? Demanding that Israel surrender the nuclear arsenal it is assumed to possess.
It was shocking. Only after reading it twice did I realize it was just a forecast and not reality. Yet as Nobel Peace Prize winner Barak Obama pursues his strategy of global multilateralism, the inexorable logic of reciprocal disarmament smacks one in the face.
If the US refuses to acknowledge the existence of evil, rejects unilateralism, and insists on an even-handed approach to international relations, what else can we expect the UN to deliver but an insistence that all sides in the Middle East give up their weapons of mass destruction, including Israel? If this harrowing forecast becomes reality, what might happen next?
Several reasons make this likely. The most compelling is that a preemptive strike by Israel on Iran's nuclear infrastructure would be in the best interests of the leadership of both nations.
The Iranian mullahs may be crazy but they're not stupid. The biggest threat to clerical rule comes not from Israel or the US but from Iran's own restive people. The surest way to crush domestic opposition is to unify the country around hatred for the infidel invader. A price would have to be paid, but Ahmadinejad might find a little death and destruction acceptable compared to the loss of power. Bloodying Israel's nose by putting up a good fight wouldn't hurt his standing either. If Ahmadinejad's handlers believe that Israel will execute a careful surgical strike, which is likely given Israel's interest in minimizing collateral damage, the mullahs may roll the dice.
The existential threat against Israel comes not from nuclear tipped Iranian missiles with a return address but from a bungled attempt at nuclear blackmail by an Iranian supplied terrorist group. Hate deranged Islamo-nihilist terrorists will never be sated until the chant "Death to Israel" becomes a reality. They have proven that they will pursue this end even at the cost of their own lives and the lives of their children. Israel, therefore, cannot let Iran go nuclear.
As for their own nuclear weapons, Israel's leaders know they cannot give up their ultimate doomsday defense unless their neighbors morph into peaceful, pluralistic democracies populated by post-reformation Muslims that have grown beyond the medieval philosophies that keep them impoverished and dangerous. What are the chances that this will happen before Iran gets the bomb? Israel may roll the dice.
And the US? Doesn't Netanyahu need a green light from his patron before he scrambles his jets? Perhaps not if he believes he can do what he must do without exposing his American supporters to terrorist retaliation. Perversely, if the US repudiates Israel's unilateral right to nuclear weapons then loudly denounces a strike on Iran both before and after the fact, Obama can win support from the world as well as his own shaky left. If the Obama administration believes that an isolated Israel will be the only one to pay the price for doing the world's dirty work, the multilateral engageist in the White House may roll the dice.
A strike on Iran gives Arab despots throughout the Middle East relief from nuclear mullahs while still allowing them to gain standing with their hapless citizens by joining the rest of the world in denouncing Israel. European companies get to increase their business with Iran supplying its reconstruction efforts, especially after sanctions on Iran are dropped post-strike by a furious UN who can then focus on its treasured goal of undermining Israel.
Tortured logic rife with miscalculation? We better hope so. But a frightening possibility in this tortured part of the world. And a reminder that history is full of miscalculations made atop tinderboxes that lead to war.