Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Love of the Land: The Obama Administration's Conflicting Messages on Iran

The Obama Administration's Conflicting Messages on Iran

Alan M. Dershowitz
Hudson New York
19 April '10

The Obama Administration is sending conflicting and confusing messages both to Iran and to those who fear an Iranian nuclear weapon. According to The New York Times, defense secretary Robert M. Gates sent a top secret memorandum to White House officials bemoaning the fact that the United States simply has no policy in place to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. At the same time, it is telling Israel that although Iran has threatened to wipe it off the map, the Jewish state should not take military action to prevent a second Holocaust. Indeed former national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, who has participated in White House discussions concerning the Middle East, has threatened that if Israel tries to destroy Iran's nuclear weapon facilities, the United States is fully capable of shooting Israeli jets out of the air.

Although Gates subsequently denied that his memo, which he acknowledges writing, was intended as a "wake up call," a senior White House official has confirmed that it was just that. There is no evidence, however, that the White House is prepared to confront the grave threat posed by a nuclear Iran. The policy that seems to be emerging from the White House is one called "containment." But what is containment? It is little more than an acknowledgement of failure. Containment implies that the United States will not succeed in preventing Iran from securing nuclear weapons, but rather it will accept such an eventuality and seek to deter the use of nuclear weapons by threats and by the deployment of defensive measures. The analogy that proponents of containment point to is North Korea, which has nuclear weapons but has thus far been "contained" from using them. But there are vast differences between North Korea and Iran.

North Korea is a secular Communist regime that is risk averse and that has no sworn existential enemies. The goal of its leaders is simply to remain in power and maintain their totalitarian control over their people. Iran is a theocratic, apocalyptic regime that believes that it has a religious obligation to destroy Israel and threaten the United States. Iran, unlike North Korea, also operates through surrogates, such as Hezbollah, Hamas and other smaller terrorist groups. They could hand-off nuclear material to such groups, or to sympathetic individuals, for use as dirty bombs directed against its enemies.

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Love of the Land: The Obama Administration's Conflicting Messages on Iran

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