TheDC’s Jamie Weinstein: More proof Israel cannot tolerate a nuclear Iran
“Mostafa’s ultimate goal was the annihilation of Israel,” Fatemeh Bolouri Kashani told the Fars News Agency this week.
She was referring to the wishes of her late husband, Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan Behdast, an Iranian nuclear scientist assassinated on the streets of Tehran in January.
It is unclear who exactly killed her husband and other scientists involved in the Iranian nuclear program over the last two years — no one has claimed responsibility — but their elimination was likely directed by Israel, the United States or one of the various Arab countries that quite understandably fear a nuclear Iran (or perhaps a combination thereof). What Kashani’s comment highlights, however, is why Israel cannot live with a nuclear Iran and why Israel’s leaders have been forced to seriously weigh authorizing a difficult and dangerous mission to set the Iranian nuclear program back militarily.
Many foreign policy elites, perhaps epitomized by CNN host Fareed Zakaria, confidently assert that Israel specifically, and the West generally, can live with a nuclear Iran. The Iranian leadership isn’t suicidal, they tell us. Ignore Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s repeated calls for Israel to be wiped off the map, or Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei’s statement that Israel is a “cancerous tumor of a state” that “should be removed from the region,” or the supposed moderate former Iranian President Akbar Rafsanjani’s casual remark that the “application of an atomic bomb would not leave anything in Israel but the same thing would just produce damages in the Muslim world.”
They’re just posturing or joking or have been misinterpreted, we’re told. Israel and the West can live with a nuclear Iran, foreign policy intellectuals in New York, London and Berlin proclaim.
But if you’re the tiny, embattled State of Israel, it is hard to see how you can afford to take the chance that the Iranian leadership is merely joshing with their eliminationist rhetoric. Even if the odds are only 5 percent that the Iranian regime is apocalyptic and would act to bring back the hidden Imam through a nuclear holocaust, a five percent chance of a second holocaust is five percent too much for Israel to tolerate. (And let’s forget entirely for a moment the dire strategic problems of dealing with a nuclear-armed Iran even if the Islamic Republic doesn’t immediately use the bomb once it obtains the capability to strike. Try handling Hezbollah when they have a nuclear shield.)
But while Western policy elites exude confidence in the rationality of the Iranian regime, we see from Kashani’s comment about her late husband that those intimately involved in making a nuclear Iran a reality believe it is their mission — likely the very reason they got involved in the nuclear project to begin with — to eliminate the Jewish state. And we aren’t talking about some uneducated bumpkin. This was a highly-educated nuclear scientist.
Earlier this week my boss, Tucker Carlson, appeared on a comedy show and jokingly called for the elimination of Iran (as you may have heard, an alarming number of their leaders have called for the elimination of Israel). The liberal blogosphere went apoplectic, which is funny considering anyone who has actually talked to Tucker about foreign policy knows that the last thing he thinks is prudent is a strike on Iran, much less a genocidal attack eliminating an entire people.
But Glenn Greenwald and other liberal commentators got their panties in a wad over the comment, though it is strange how Greenwald and his buddies never seem to get as incensed by much more serious calls by Iranian power brokers to eliminate Israel.
Scream over the trivial, ignore the serious. This is your liberal commentariat, America.
I don’t know if Israel will strike Iranian nuclear facilities — no one really does. I don’t know what Israel’s capacity is to set back Iran’s program. I don’t know if the Israeli intelligence establishment is right when they say they can handle Iran’s nuclear program or if those who argue that covert action is no longer sufficient are right. And I don’t know when Iran will cross a “red line” where Israel will no longer have a military option.
But I do know that the current Israeli government faces gut-wrenching decisions, which probably can’t fully be appreciated by leaders in Paris or London or even Washington. The West would be seriously threatened by Iranian nuclear proliferation. Only Israel faces possible elimination.
If Israel believes the United States won’t act to protect itself and the world from a nuclear Iran, it may very well decide it has to act itself. Understanding Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan Behdast’s dream — and the strong probability that there are plenty of others working on Iran’s nuclear program that share it — helps one better comprehend the reason why.
Follow Jamie on Twitter