Israel and Iran

(World Affairs) Elliott Abrams - The dangers of a nuclear Iran do not affect all nations equally. In fact, they are a matter of principle but not much of a danger to many countries, while of much greater interest to Iran's immediate neighbors and to the United States. And then there is Israel. The dangers it faces from an Iranian nuclear weapon are unique and are dangers no nation should be asked to accept. The only case today in which a UN member country is calling for the destruction of another member is Tehran's repeated threats to obliterate Israel, and there is no reason to believe the Iranians don't mean it. Official Iranian comments about Israel are continually genocidal in nature. The recent attacks on Israeli Embassy officers in India and Georgia and the bombing of the Israeli Embassy and Jewish community headquarters in Buenos Aires in the 1990s were all conducted when Iran did not have the added protection of a nuclear weapon. Similarly, Hizbullah and Hamas rocket attacks and terrorist bombings and kidnappings have all occurred when their benefactors in Tehran did not yet have the bomb. How much more aggressive would the mullahs be if the threat of retaliation against such attacks were neutralized by nuclear warheads? Israel would be taking a very great gamble to think that the U.S. will save it from Iran's nukes. We might, under this president or the next, or we might not. Iranian nuclear weapons are, after all, an existential threat to Israel, not to the U.S. It is not America that is regularly threatened with genocide by Tehran, however much its rulers may believe it the Great Satan. The writer, who served as U.S. deputy national security adviser from 2005 to 2009, is a senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

2012-05-16 00:00:00

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