Strengthening the Partnership: How to Deepen U.S.-Israel Cooperation on the Iranian Nuclear Challenge

[ Washington Institute for Near East Policy] The prospect that the Islamic Republic of Iran may successfully develop a nuclear weapons capability could confront the United States and Israel with the most serious challenge in the history of their relationship. There is a growing perception that the United States may be reconciling itself to the idea of "living with an Iranian nuclear bomb." Americans should recognize that deterrence is, in Israeli eyes, an unattractive alternative to prevention, because, if deterrence fails, Israel would suffer terribly. This only reinforces the idea among many Israelis that, in the end, they may be left alone to bear the brunt of the Iranian nuclear threat. Many Israelis are not convinced that traditional deterrence will work against a regime that has within it a significant messianic, even apocalyptic, element. They fear that the sort of costs whose prospect deterred the Soviet Union during the Cold War may not be sufficient in the case of Iran's current leadership. We urge that the President begin a national conversation with the American people on the challenges, risks, and dilemmas posed to U.S. interests by the potential Iranian acquisition of a nuclear weapons capability, and on ways to prevent it. It is important for the president to raise popular awareness of the fact that Iran's nuclear ambitions are likely to trigger a surge of nuclear proliferation and raise the potential of terrorists gaining nuclear weapons. The central argument is that preventing Iran's acquisition of a nuclear weapons capability is not special pleading for America's ally Israel - it is vital to America's own security. Signatories: Robert Blackwill, former deputy national security advisor for strategic planning, Bush administration; Richard Clarke, former national coordinator for security, infrastructure protection, and counterterrorism, Clinton and Bush administrations; Thomas Donilon, former chief of staff and assistant secretary of state for public affairs, Clinton administration; John Hillen, former assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs, Bush administration; Max Kampelman, former ambassador and arms control negotiator; Bob Kerrey, former U.S. senator (D-Neb.); Anthony Lake, former assistant to the president for national security affairs, Clinton administration; Samuel Lewis, former ambassador to Israel, Carter and Reagan administrations; Mark Parris, former senior director of the National Security Council; Susan Rice, former assistant secretary of state for African affairs, Clinton administration; James Roche, former secretary of the Air Force, Bush administration; Dennis Ross, former Middle East peace envoy; Robert Satloff, executive director, Washington Institute; Wendy Sherman, former counselor to the State Department, Clinton administration; Walter Slocombe, former undersecretary of defense for policy, Clinton administration; Vin Weber, chairman, National Endowment for Democracy; R. James Woolsey, former director of central intelligence, Clinton administration.

2008-07-08 01:00:00

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