Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
View this page at
Daily Alert Mobile
RSS Feed
May 16, 2014

In-Depth Issues:

Iran Recruits Afghan Refugees to Fight for Regime in Syria - Farnaz Fassihi (Wall Street Journal)
    Iran has been recruiting thousands of Afghan refugees to fight in Syria, offering $500 a month and Iranian residency to help the Assad regime beat back rebel forces, according to Afghans and Western officials. The Revolutionary Guards organize, train, and command the Shiite militias sent to Syria.
    On Thursday, a large funeral procession was held in the northwestern city of Mashhad, near the Afghan border, for four Afghan refugees killed in Syria.
    Reports of funerals for the Afghan recruits who die in Syria began to emerge in November. Recently, there have been more frequent reports of such deaths in Iranian media.
    Gen. Hossein Hamedani, a senior Guards commander involved in planning war strategy in Syria, said last week that Iran had trained an extra 130,000 soldiers ready for dispatch. The 130,000 was an apparent reference to all the Shiite militias including Iranians, Hizbullah, Afghans and other foreign fighters.
    A Western official in Iran said recruiting Afghans was part of a shifting strategy to send poor foot soldiers to the front lines from a community with little clout to minimize casualties among Hizbullah and Guards members.

The Battle for Southern Syria Heating Up - Ehud Yaari (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
    Rebel militias in Syria are recording significant successes in the region between Damascus and the Israeli and Jordanian borders.
    Syrian army units in the south are thinly spread, often isolated, and experiencing low morale. In particular, Syrian army Brigades 61 and 90 have suffered losses so great as to render them operationally ineffective.
    Rebel factions in the south comprise some 20,000 fighters, and in recent operations they have deployed 500 fighters for a single attack.
    Assad does not have sufficient forces to protect the southern sector, which is proving to be the regime's soft underbelly.
    The writer is a fellow with The Washington Institute and a Middle East commentator for Israel's Channel Two television.

Iran's Drone War in Syria - Patrick Hilsman (Daily Beast)
    Iran has been providing Syria's regime with drones - some of them inspired by American technology - and they're already playing a significant role in keeping Bashar Assad in power.
    "They've been seen on several airbases in satellite imagery, including Damascus, Hama and Shayrat airbases," said Varun Vira, an expert at c4ads, a think tank in Washington, D.C., that specializes in defense issues.
    The first evidence of Iranian drones in Syria appeared in early 2012, when opposition activists released video showing a Pahpad AB-3. Their presence was usually a good indicator of imminent shelling or airstrikes.
    In December 2013, the al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra shot down a small Yasir drone and displayed the wreckage on social media.
    Iran claims to have developed the Yasir by reverse engineering American technology captured in 2012. Iran says they developed their own model based on captured American ScanEagle mini UAVs.
    Iran has armed drones in its own arsenal, but so far only unarmed drones have appeared in Syria and their main purpose appears to be reconnaissance.

Israel, U.S. Import Oil from Iraqi Kurdistan - Julia Payne and Ron Bousso (Reuters)
    Israeli and U.S. oil refineries are receiving crude from Iraqi Kurdistan. The U.S. imported its first crude cargo two weeks ago, while at least four have gone to Israel since January, ship tracking and industry sources said. Kurdish crude oil also has been sold to several European buyers.
    The Iraqi government has repeatedly said oil sales bypassing Baghdad are illegal.

Follow the Jerusalem Center on:

Plea Set for Palestinian in U.S. Accused of Hiding Terror Past - Josh Gerstein (Politico)
    A Palestinian woman who lived in the U.S. for nearly two decades before being accused of failing to reveal her conviction in Israel for the 1969 bombings of a supermarket and the British Consulate in Jerusalem, looks set to enter a guilty plea next week in federal court in Detroit.
    Rasmieh Odeh was indicted in October on charges that when she applied for residence and citizenship in the U.S., she concealed her membership in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the fact that she'd spent time in Israeli prisons.
    She was sentenced in Israel to life behind bars, but was released in a prisoner swap in 1979.

U.S. National Guard and IDF Join for Emergency Response Exercise in Israel - Ofer Bavly (Jewish Federation of Chicago)
    120 men and women of the U.S. National Guard arrived in Israel on Tuesday for a joint exercise with 150 men and women of the Israel Defense Forces.
    The exercise was based around the scenario of a massive earthquake bringing down numerous buildings with multiple people trapped under the rubble.
    The National Guard and IDF soldiers practiced entering the destroyed buildings and searching for survivors using technology and specially trained dogs from the IDF's K-9 unit.

Israeli Sensors Monitoring Beijing's Water Safety - Matthew Kalman (Israel Technology Daily)
    Beijing Water is installing 100 high-precision water quality analyzers for the city's water distribution network developed by the Israeli company Blue I Water Technologies.

Palestinian Farmers Learn Agricultural Storage Techniques in Israel - Sharon Udasin (Jerusalem Post)
    About a dozen Gazan and West Bank farmers came to Israel this week for a five-day course in post-harvest techniques.
    The farmers learned about achieving European quality standards for their exports, and visited various packing houses in Israel, as well as an agriculture research and development center.

Top 10 Apps for Touring Israel - Abigail Klein Leichman (Israel21c)
    Touring Israel on a budget? Download some of these awesome applications to your smartphone to get the most out of your trip.

    See also Tourism to Israel Breaks Records (Israel Ministry of Tourism-IMRA)
    According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, a record-breaking 385,000 visitor entries were recorded in Israel in April 2014, 9% more than April 2013.
    In January-April 2014, 1.16 million visitors arrived in Israel.

Search the Recent History of Israel and the Middle East
    Explore all back issues of Daily Alert - since May 2002.

Send the Daily Alert to a Friend
    If you are viewing the email version of the Daily Alert - and want to share it with friends - please click Forward in your email program and enter their address.

Key Links 
Media Contacts 
Back Issues 
Fair Use/Privacy 

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • UN: Iran Advancing Ballistic Missile Work - Louis Charbonneau and Parisa Hafezi
    A new report by the UN Panel of Experts, which monitors compliance with the UN sanctions regime against Iran, said that, apart from holding off on test-firing one type of rocket, Iran shows no sign of putting the brakes on the expansion of its missile program. "Iran is continuing development of its ballistic missile and space programs," the experts said.
        "A new missile launch site 40 km. (25 miles) from the city of Shahrud was identified in August 2013. A larger launch complex is assessed to be close to completion at the Imam Khomeini Space Center at Semnan for ballistic missiles and satellite launch vehicles." The report also cited what it described as the June 2013 opening of the Imam Sadeq Observation and Monitoring Center for monitoring space objects, including satellites.
        "Analysis of Iran's ballistic missile program remains a challenge. With the exception of several launches, periodic displays of hardware and one recent revelation of a new ballistic launch facility, the program is opaque and not subject to the same level of transparency that Iran's nuclear activities are under IAEA safeguards."  (Reuters)
        See also U.S.: Big Gaps Remain in Iran Nuclear Talks - Louis Charbonneau and Fredrik Dahl
    A senior U.S. official on Tuesday cautioned against excessive optimism over nuclear talks with Iran. "I've read a lot of the optimism you've's gotten way out of control," the official told reporters. "Just because we will be drafting [an agreement] certainly does not mean an agreement is imminent or that we are certain to eventually get to a resolution of these issues," the official added. (Reuters)
  • Mideast Peace Effort Pauses to Let Failure Sink In - Mark Landler
    President Obama, stung by his second failed attempt to broker a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, has decided to take a conspicuous breather from the Middle East peace process, a senior administration official said, "to let the failure of the talks sink in for both parties, and see if that causes them to reconsider."
        While the president believes there is time for another American-led peace initiative before he leaves office, the official said, he is determined to wait until the Israelis and Palestinians approach the U.S. with their ideas for how to revive the process. That means it is unlikely that Obama will lay down principles for resolving the conflict.
        For now, Obama has instructed Secretary of State John Kerry to shift his attention to nuclear negotiations with Iran, the crisis in Ukraine, and the longer-term American strategic shift to Asia. (New York Times)
  • Egypt's Sisi Asks for U.S. Help in Fighting Terrorism - Stephen Adler and Richard Mably
    Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the general who is set to become Egypt's next head of state, in an interview called on the U.S. to help fight jihadi terrorism. Sisi called for the resumption of U.S. military aid, worth $1.3 billion a year, which was partially frozen after a crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood. "The Egyptian army is undertaking major operations in the Sinai so it is not transformed into a base for terrorism that will threaten its neighbors and make Egypt unstable. If Egypt is unstable then the entire region is unstable," he said. "We need American support to fight terrorism, we need American equipment to use to combat terrorism."
        Regarding the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, he said, "We respected it and we will respect it. The Israeli people know this....The question of whether we would be committed to the peace treaty is over with."
        As for Washington's aspiration to usher in democracy to Egypt, Sisi said, "You want to create democracy in many countries. This is a good thing but it won't succeed in the way it is needed except through good economic support and proper support for education."  (Reuters)
  • Jewish Archive from Baghdad to Stay in U.S. - For Now - Raf Sanchez
    In the flooded basement of Iraqi intelligence headquarters in Baghdad in 2003, American troops discovered a trove of Jewish documents. Saddam's mukhabarat agents had amassed Jewish religious artifacts including five-century-old Hebrew Bibles. After a wave of anti-Semitic laws in Iraq, most of the country's 130,000 Jews fled after 1948.
        The Jewish books and papers filled 27 large metal trunks, which were stored inside an Iraqi freezer truck to arrest the growth of mold on the damp parchment. In August 2003 Iraq allowed the artifacts to be sent to the U.S. to be restored on condition they were returned when the project was complete.
        Earlier this year the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution calling on the Obama administration to renegotiate the agreement with the Iraqis. The senators argue that the archive belongs first and foremost to the descendants of the exiled Iraqi Jews, the vast majority of whom now live in Israel. "Under no circumstances should these artifacts be handed back to Iraq," said Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY). On May 14, Lukman Faily, the Iraqi ambassador to the U.S., announced that the archive will stay in the U.S. for now. (Telegraph-UK)
        See also Statement on Extension of Iraqi Jewish Archive Exhibit (Embassy of Iraq in U.S.)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu, U.S. Secretary of Defense Hagel Discuss Iran in Jerusalem
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel in Jerusalem on Friday: "Mr. Secretary, Chuck, welcome to Jerusalem. I'd like to express my deep appreciation, and that of the people of Israel, for the close defense and intelligence relationship and cooperation between Israel and the United States. We're also deeply grateful for your steadfast support for Israel's security, and most especially for the missile defense cooperation."
        " the danger posed to both our countries and to the peace of the world by Iran's pursuit of developing nuclear weapons....I wasn't surprised and I'm sure you weren't surprised by the recent UN report on Iran's ongoing efforts to deceive the international community, to continue to develop its ICBMs and to continually violate its commitments of Security Council stipulations on forbidding it to develop certain parts of its nuclear program."
        "We must not let the ayatollahs win. We must not let the foremost terrorist state of our time, Iran, develop the capability to produce nuclear weapons."  (Prime Minister's Office)
        See also Hagel Meets with Israel's Minister of Defense - Claudette Roulo
    Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel met Thursday with Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon at the Israeli defense ministry in Tel Aviv. It was their sixth meeting. They discussed the ongoing P5+1 negotiations over Iran's nuclear weapons program and President Obama's commitment to ensuring that Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapon. "We also discussed America's unwavering pledge to preserve Israel's qualitative military edge, including the provision of some of America's most advanced capabilities," Hagel said.
        Two months ago, the U.S. reached a milestone co-production agreement with Israel, raising its investment in the Iron Dome missile defense program to a total of nearly $900 million, he said. This will support additional batteries and interceptors. (American Forces Press Service-U.S. Defense Department)
        See also Ya'alon: Israel, U.S. Must Use "All Means" to Block Iran Threat
    Israel's defense minister Moshe Ya'alon said Thursday that Israel and its U.S. ally should be prepared to use "all means" to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapons capability. "I believe that it should be in the first priority of each of us to deal with this threat by all means, in all fields," he said at a joint press conference with visiting U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.
        "I believe the United States and Israel share the same goal - not to allow a military nuclear Iran," Ya'alon said. "The bottom line is that Israel should be ready to defend itself, by itself." Hegel said, "Because we're on a diplomatic track...does not preclude all of the other security and defense measures that we continue to pursue outside that diplomatic track, including this relationship with Israel."  (Defense News)
        See also Hagel Dismisses Allegations of Israeli Espionage - Mitch Ginsburg (Times of Israel)
  • Palestinians Attack IDF Soldiers on Nakba Day, Two Rioters Killed - Khaled Abu Toameh and Yaakov Lappin
    Two Palestinian teenagers were killed during clashes with the IDF near Ramallah on Thursday as they and others marked Nakba (Catastrophe) Day - the 66th anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel. Muhammad Abu Daher and Nadim Siam, both 17, were fatally shot when 150 Palestinians threw firebombs and rocks and rolled burning tires at soldiers near Ofer Prison. "This was a very aggressive attack on security personnel," an army source said. Palestinians held marches and rallies in all the major cities of the West Bank and Gaza. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Netanyahu Responds to "Nakba Day"
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday: "In the Palestinian Authority, they are marking what they call Nakba Day. They...commemorate the disaster of the establishment of Israel, the state of the Jewish People. They educate their children, with endless propaganda, that the State of Israel needs to disappear. We have many responses to this. The first response is that we are continuing to build up our state and our united capital, Jerusalem."  (Prime Minister's Office)
  • Israeli Security Officials Have a Hard Time Obtaining Visas to U.S. - Ron Ben-Yishai
    In the past two years, high-ranking Israeli security officials have been experiencing increasing difficulties in obtaining entry visas to the U.S., waiting up to half a year for their applications to be processed, and being granted only a short-term visa. In 2011, the American embassy refused to grant a visa to former defense minister and IDF chief of staff Shaul Mofaz, due to his Iranian roots. Former National Security Council head Uzi Arad and former Israel Security Agency chief Yuval Diskin went through similar trials.
        Four former IDF major generals and brigadier generals had to wait many months to receive visas as well. These officers were in need of visas to the U.S. in order to oversee joint projects with the American defense industry. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Despite the Smiles in Vienna, the Gaps Are Still Wide
    Gary Samore, who was Barack Obama's senior adviser on arms control for four years, notes three big remaining obstacles to a comprehensive accord to rein in Iran's nuclear ambitions: agreeing on the extent of Iran's capacity to enrich uranium and the kind of research it can do; the length of time an agreement would cover; and the way in which sanctions are unwound.
        The gap between Western and Iranian negotiators on all three is wide. To sell a deal to a skeptical Congress, only a very low number of centrifuges will be acceptable; people close to the talks suggest between 3,000-4,000 of the older IR-1 centrifuges at most. But Iran wants to keep all 19,000 of the centrifuges it has already deployed and to be able to move up to 50,000 in a few years or substitute IR-1s with newer IR-2ms that are six times more efficient. It would also deem any curb on its nuclear R&D to be insulting.
        The requirement for Obama's team, says Samore, is to be able to say that the breakout period (to enrich enough uranium for one nuclear device) is at least a year, compared with about two months now. Though a crude measure, everyone understands it. Samore thinks it would be politically impossible in America to sell anything less.
        The West is looking for an accord with Iran to last 10-20 years. Iran is talking about five years maximum. Finally, the Americans and Iranians differ over the sequencing of sanctions relief. But Obama cannot expunge the legislation on U.S. sanctions without Congress' support. In any case, the West would prefer to ease sanctions in stages, to encourage Iran to meet whatever obligations it has agreed to. (Economist-UK)
  • Martin Indyk's View of the Breakdown in Talks - Rick Richman
    Ambassador Martin Indyk's address last week to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, castigating Israel for "rampant settlement activity," featured assertions that were simply wrong. Settlement activity was not rampant, and almost all of it was in areas Israel would retain under any peace agreement.
        On the Palestinian refusal to discuss recognition of a Jewish state, Indyk seemed to accept Abbas' assertion this was "a new requirement." But Ambassador Dennis Ross has stated: "When I hear it said that this is the first time this issue has been raised - the people who say that think that no one knows history....When we were at Camp David [in 2000], this issue was raised."  (Commentary)
  • The Mideast Peace Process Is in Tatters - David Ignatius
    The collapsed Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations were a determined effort by Secretary of State John Kerry and his special adviser, Martin Indyk, to create viable Palestinian and Jewish states. But despite Kerry's relentless enthusiasm, the two sides never really came close. They are further apart now than when the process began, with the mistrust even deeper.
        Abbas was a huge disappointment. He effectively shut down as a negotiator midway through the talks. After Kerry had gotten Arab League foreign ministers to support recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, Abbas went to the Arabs and got them to reverse this helpful position.
        When the U.S. began laying down its agreed framework, with "bridging proposals" to narrow the gaps on the most contentious final issues, such as refugees and Jerusalem, Abbas never responded. Rather than accept the framework "with reservations," as planned, Abbas balked. (Washington Post)
  • Boko Haram and the Future of Nigeria - Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah
    Three hundred mostly Christian girls from a high school in northeastern Nigeria were kidnapped by the Boko Haram terrorist group, whose chief, Abubakar Shekau, announced that the girls had been converted to Islam. For the first time since the government decided to fight Boko Haram in July 2009, President Jonathan Goodluck has openly accepted Western and Israeli assistance in the war.
        The events in Nigeria have highlighted the issue of political Islam in Africa's most populous country, with its 177 million citizens divided roughly equally between Christians predominating in the south and Muslims in the north. Sheikh Ibrahim Alzakzaky, the undisputed leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, is a Nigerian Shiite. A protege of Iran, he works to disseminate Shiite theology and create a radical socioeconomic and military order resembling that of Hizbullah in Lebanon. He is believed to have over a million supporters.
        Many armed Islamist groups are now fighting the Nigerian government, seeking to force it to adopt an Islamist regime. Northern Muslim states have become a battleground, with Boko Haram combatants being trained in terrorist camps in Mali. The Nigerian government's inability to cope with the Boko Haram threat has led some Christian intellectuals and politicians to note that the developed parts of Nigeria are mostly in Christian areas, and call for a partition of the country if necessary. Subduing Boko Haram is in the West's interest. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Nakba or Defeat? - Abdulateef Al-Mulhim
    On May 14, 1948, the state of Israel emerged on the world map. One day after, a long and bloody conflict broke out and after the dust settled, the Arabs called it Nakba or the Day of Catastrophe. It was a defeat, but the Arabs chose to call it a catastrophe.
        What if those Palestinians had accepted the UN decision and decided to live side-by-side with the Israelis? Many of the Palestinians didn't have to flee their homes. It is said that it was the Mufti (Husseini) who encouraged them to flee.
        66 years later with many wars and loss of human lives, the conflict continues. The Palestinians' agony became a moneymaking machine for some of the Palestinian elite.
        Let us get real and think straight. How can the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank accommodate the millions of Palestinians from the refugee camps? The Palestinian-Israeli conflict could have been resolved in 1948 by either accepting the UN decision or by absorbing the thousands of Palestinian refugees into the Arab world.
        Palestinians, don't fool yourself. Just look at what some regimes in the Arab world are doing to their own people. If they don't care about their own people's pain, then what will make them care about your pain? (Arab News-Saudi Arabia)
  • Perhaps Misunderstood Israeli Cultural Norms Make Our U.S. Partners Overly Suspicious - Reuven Ben-Shalom
    Recent articles in Newsweek, alleging Israeli spying on the U.S., make me sick to my stomach. Throughout the spectrum of collaboration, from intelligence sharing to R&D, Israelis engage their U.S. counterparts with friendship, comradeship, professionalism and enthusiasm.
        It reminds me of the time I led an Israeli team in a real-life U.S.-Israeli coordination operation. With American lives at risk, my team bent over backwards in mobilizing Israeli assets until the crisis was over. Our U.S. counterparts were overwhelmed and appreciative, but a State Department official, stationed in another country, wrote: "My sources tell me that the Israelis did not do much to assist."
        Perhaps misunderstood Israeli cultural norms have contributed to making our partners overly suspicious. Israeli organizational culture gives great freedom of creativity to junior officers. The preferred psyche is Maj.-Gen. Arik Sharon's disregarding rules and doing what's right, not a "follow orders and procedures" attitude. I have seen many occasions when plain Israeli naivete was interpreted as aggressive information collecting.
        If an Israeli wanders into an off-limits zone, it is because he is curious and fails to read the sign. He was not trained by the Mossad to obtain secret information and has no malicious intentions. An Israeli asking too many questions at a Pentagon briefing is not led by malice aforethought, but by overenthusiasm and his typical Israeli informality. I myself have made naive mistakes such as leaving a conference room in a U.S. missile defense installation without an escort, or asking a witty question on a subject not listed on the agenda.
        I have been involved in the U.S.-Israeli relationship for more than a decade and have never seen any evidence of Israeli spying on the U.S. I take pride in my American heritage, while I continue to serve, as a reservist, as the IDF liaison officer to the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv during wartime. The writer is a former pilot in the Israel Air Force. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Experts Question Perceived Demographic Threat to Israel - Alex Traiman
    A relatively recent two-way shift in birthrates is altering the paradigm of a perceived demographic threat to Israel. "Maybe the demographic threat was real 10 to 20 years ago but not anymore," said Dr. Guy Bechor, who heads the Middle East Division at the Lauder School of Government at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya. "There is a rise of the Jewish fertility rate in Israel and a decline of the Arab fertility rate in Israel and in the Palestinian Authority."
        In the 1970s and '80s, the fertility rate per Muslim mother in Israel was more than 8 children, and today, the rate is 3.2. "In the Jewish community 20 or 15 years ago, fertility rates were 2.5, and now, it is more than 3....The numbers today are virtually the same between Arab and Jewish families." A dramatic decline in Arab fertility rates can also be seen in virtually every Middle East country, including Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey.
        "Today, there is a clear Jewish majority in Israel, and this majority will continue to grow in the next few years." Moreover, Jews continue to immigrate to Israel, most noticeably from France and Ukraine. (JNS-Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle)
  • UN Division on Palestinian Rights Makes No Contribution to Peace - Daniel S. Mariaschin
    The UN Division on Palestinian Rights (DPR) invited our organization "to participate in the United Nations International Meeting on the Question of Jerusalem," taking place in Ankara, Turkey, and sponsored by the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP). Both the Division and the Committee were established by the UN in the wake of the infamous Zionism=Racism resolution. We won't be attending.
        Together with the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices, these committees serve as an in-house public relations operation for the Palestinian side in the conflict with Israel. These activities only raise Palestinian expectations to unmeetable levels. The writer is executive vice president of B'nai B'rith International. (Jerusalem Post)

Would Obama Bomb Iran? - Matthew Kroenig (Spectator-UK)

  • What is worse: Iran with the Bomb or bombing Iran? Of course, we all hope that the negotiations will result in a lasting diplomatic accord that resolves the Iranian nuclear challenge once and for all. Yet we must also be realistic. Obama himself has estimated that the odds of a comprehensive deal are "no better than 50/50." And his former weapons of mass destruction coordinator, Gary Samore, puts the chances closer to zero.
  • Moreover, the final settlement as currently envisioned would leave Iran only six months away from a nuclear breakout capability, severely tempting Tehran's leaders to tear up the agreement (overtly or in secret) at a later date. In other words, it is still more likely than not that diplomacy will not work.
  • In a series of statements, beginning in March 2012, President Obama has declared that a nuclear-armed Iran "cannot be contained" and he is prepared to do "everything required," including using military force, to keep Tehran from the Bomb. Make no mistake about it, the Pentagon has the capability to devastate Iran's nuclear program. America's newest bunker-busting bomb would make short work of even Iran's most deeply buried and hardened nuclear facilities.
  • A U.S. strike would set Iran's nuclear program back by a number of years at minimum and create a significant possibility that Iran could never acquire nuclear weapons. Of course, there are serious risks to a strike, but foreign policy often involves choosing between bad options and these risks must be compared with those of acquiescing to a nuclear-armed Iran.
  • As a special adviser on Iran policy in the U.S. Office of the Secretary of Defense from 2010 to 2011, I systematically compared these options (deterring and containing a nuclear-armed Iran or conducting a limited military strike on Iran's key nuclear facilities). I showed how the two outcomes under consideration would affect about a dozen key U.S. national security interests.
  • The risks of a strike paled in comparison to the threats posed by a nuclear-armed Iran. At the end of a briefing to top political appointees and military brass at the Pentagon, the most senior official in the room looked me straight in the eye and said, "Well, if you are right, this is a no-brainer."
  • Some question whether President Obama is really willing to use force. Yet the President's closest advisers insist that Iran is different. Obama is determined to make worldwide nuclear reductions a central part of his foreign policy legacy, and he understands that a nuclear arms race in the Middle East is deeply antithetical to that vision.

    The writer is associate professor of government at Georgetown.
Support Daily Alert
Daily Alert is the work of a team of expert analysts who find the most important and timely articles from around the world on Israel, the Middle East and U.S. policy. No wonder it is read by heads of government, leading journalists, and thousands of people who want to stay on top of the news. To continue to provide this service, Daily Alert requires your support. Please take a moment to click here and make your contribution through the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

Unsubscribe from Daily Alert