Israel’s choice

The Iran deal finances and otherwise facilitates Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons. It even sets up the United States and the other parties as protectors of Iran’s nuclear program.

Why would President Obama want to do that? He seems to believe that Iran should play the role of “a very successful regional power.” If he believes that this is in the national interest of thee United States, he is a fool. Yet he has said as much, and in this case it may not be naive to take his his words as expressing his view.

By contrast with Obama, the American people (on average) have Iran sized up as an implacable enemy of the United States and of Israel. In his New York Post column, John Podhoretz takes a look at the polls of America public opinion on the Iran deal. He concludes: “The more people know, the more they are inclined to oppose it.”

The state of American public opinion is one element that differentiates the Iran deal from the Munich Agreement. The American people (on average) have no illusions about the Islamic Republic of Iran. They do not think that their Supreme Leader is about to be made a friend of the United States. They do not think that the Supreme Leader’s imprecations of “Death to America” are to be discounted and laughed off. They do not view the imprecations as something like the pabulum and prevarications that Obama himself regularly serves up to them for their consumption. They view the Supreme Leader’s imprecations as consistent with actions taken by the Islamic Republic of Iran roughly from the regime’s inception.

As for the people of Israel and other actors in the region, this is also the case, only even more so, and they do not have the luxury of turning a blind eye. The threat to Israel presented by a nuclear Iran belies the country’s reason for being. See Michael Oren’s memoir Ally for the deep sense of betrayal that Obama’s actions have produced in Israel, even on the part of a sophisticated observer like Oren.

The new status quo is obviously untenable for Israel. If the Islamic Republic of Iran could be contained or deterred, the new status quo might hold, but Iran can’t be deterred and the new status quo won’t hold. It won’t hold any more than the new status quo produced by the Munich Agreement. It may last longer than the Munich Agreement’s 10 months, but the new status quo is inherently untenable.

Norman Podhoretz reiterates the essential facts in his Wall Street Journal column “Israel’s choice” (accessible here via Google). Podhoretz writes:

[I]n allowing Iran to get the bomb, [Obama] is not averting war. What he is doing is setting the stage for a nuclear war between Iran and Israel.

The reason stems from the fact that, with hardly an exception, all of Israel believes that the Iranians are deadly serious when they proclaim that they are bound and determined to wipe the Jewish state off the map. It follows that once Iran acquires the means to make good on this genocidal commitment, each side will be faced with only two choices: either to rely on the fear of a retaliatory strike to deter the other from striking first, or to launch a pre-emptive strike of its own.

Yet when even a famous Iranian “moderate” like the former President Hashemi Rafsanjani has said—as he did in 2001, contemplating a nuclear exchange—that “the use of even one nuclear bomb inside Israel will destroy everything. However, it will only harm the Islamic world. It is not irrational to contemplate such an eventuality,” how can deterrence work?

The brutal truth is that the actual alternatives before us are not Mr. Obama’s deal or war. They are conventional war now or nuclear war later. John Kerry recently declared that Israel would be making a “huge mistake” to take military action against Iran. But Mr. Kerry, as usual, is spectacularly wrong. Israel would not be making a mistake at all, let alone a huge one. On the contrary, it would actually be sparing itself—and the rest of the world—a nuclear conflagration in the not too distant future.

This seems to me something like the irreducible common sense of the matter.